Torah Study Notes 3-15-14

March 15, 2014
p. 688 Leviticus Tzav
6:1 Compare this description of a burnt offering sacrifice with p. 410 in Exodus which is the foundational notion of a sacrifice which should not be left until morning and be left as a burnt offering. This contrasts with the Paschal sacrifice –
. This is clearly not an Exodus sacrifice albeit founded on that. It is like art that looks back upon itself. See Wolfenson on the transformation of Modern Art. (I could not locate this text.) In a sense it is Magritte’s “This is not a pipe.”
Note as well that there are several Hebrew words for sacrifice. SF: But what is the effect of this on the people. Avivah Zornberg
says that Leviticus and Exodus are about managing the sub-conscious. Sacrifices are intended to have an emotive effect – to touch you inwardly. Sacrificial cults are found throughout the ancient world. Ancient Israel is doing something different in their approach to sacrifice. Here one is no longer propitiating the gods. The God of Israel does not need sacrifice in that sense. God is not hostile or indifferent. The sacrifice is done as a way to acknowledge God as the ultimate judge. The person sacrificing needs to make amends to and for the community. It is part of a process of inner restoration as well and that is where the psychology comes in. Sacrifice also create a system for restoring relationships. SF: See the work of Itamar Schwartz.
He says that every day we must make amends for the tensions and problems of our lives. PG: Conciliation must also be external – that is the role of sacrifice as envisioned here. The classic reform scholars felt that sacrifice must be done correctly – that is with the proper intent. AF We are getting into philosophical areas studied for thousands of years that haven’t been communicated well. We have a dozen people at this table but does the congregation understand this? PG: The sacrificial service was challenged by Jesus – not as to lending money – but as a symbolic act against priestly corruption. Sacrifice was ultimately to be replaced by communal prayer – by liturgy. To some extent that worked as a mode of conciliation. It is a way of dissipating ill will. HF Sacrifice of a prize animal is intended to be a demonstration to the community, LL But what about the sons of Aaron who are themselves incinerated for technical mistakes in making the sacrifices. PG Modern commentaries see this as a punishment for excessive ardor. See Levinas and Heschel’s commentary which suggests they burned from the inside. Another perspective is that they “went off the rails” by calling attention to themselves rather than God. Are you a disciple of Korach or Aaron?
As to the Eternal light reference – perpetual fire burning on the altar – is here limited to “all night.” Remember that God’s presence at night is manifest via a pillar of fire and during the day by a cloud of fog. The story is told that an elderly man give his oldest son a beautiful bejeweled goblet. But he warns him always to drink wine from a particular side. The son then forgets which side is correct. His wife points out he must always drink from the side closest to him. To do otherwise would spill the wine. Sometimes the answer is something very simple and fundamental.
6:7 A detailed description of the meal offering for a late afternoon or evening meal. Teleology is the description of the origin of things. The presence here of unleavened bread suggests that there is something problematic with leavened bread. There was a sour dough technique. Pesach has an ancient meaning other than “Passover” It refers to a celebration of spring and spring cleaning and the beginning of the sour dough. We are talking about something that is intended to be intrinsically holy. By introducing the leavening agent one taints that purity or holiness.
6:12 The offering of Aaron and his sons shall be a meal offering but may not be eaten. We are now concerned with the investment of the priests. Aaron’s sons will succeed him in that role. The hereditary notion of priesthood is dominant in the post biblical period. But this affinity became Levitical and then passes to the people of Nazareth. The sacrifices that they need to offer cannot be eaten by anyone.
6:17 The ritual of the purgation offering. What is being purged is contaminants and especially blood. EL: The specifics and detail here are a bit much. PG Remember that this is all taking place in the enclosed part of the temple. – the Tabernacle. There is a mass psychology of expectation here that is culturally constructed. LL Consider the Japanese tea ceremony. CL This is Zen Buddhism and morphed over time from religion to an indication of hospitality. PG: Ritual is part of many institutions – like all rising when a judge enters the courtroom. LL: Being detailed and precise is a way of elevating the importance of what is being done. PG: In modern life rituals have been simplified. It is like a place setting at a meal which requires that a particular fork or spoon is to be used during the Belle Epoch. Ignorance indicated someone who did not belong. CL: Weren’t the utensils placed in the order of their use? PG: Not entirely or anyone could have picked correctly. But see: AF: But what about when the population grew to a point where it became difficult to come to the Temple. PG: Many of these functions could be performed elsewhere. This is covered in the Book of Deuteronomy but not here in Leviticus.

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