Torah Study Notes 3-22-14

March 22, 2014
p. 707 in Plaut
Aaron and his sons have been sequestered in preparation for their ordination. This is a onetime event which establishes the priesthood.
Lev. 9:1 A burnt offering, a purgation offering, an offering for well being and a meal offering are to be prepared. Note that kashrut is a list of items that should not be eaten but also focuses on the method of preparation. The animals who are precluded are expected to propagate as set forth in Genesis. Note that only male animals may be sacrificed. Purgation refers to the expiation of sin. Yom Kippur atones for sins against God but not your sins against others. This is a narrative in broad strokes and does not bear close examination in some ways. There are many unanswerable questions, some of which arise from difficulties of translation.
9:5 As part of the ceremony Aaron is directed by Moses to make the purgation offering for himself and as a representative of the people. Note that God tried to give the Torah to the Jews on three occasions – first by speaking directly to them, next by writing on stone, and finally via the writing of Commandments by Moses and what we have. It is only the last that was successfully transmitted. The people – for a variety of reasons – could not handle the first two times.
Sf: Isn’t there a tradition that we should speak to God twice a day? PG You are now channeling Martin Buber who reasoned that God commanded each of us separately – I and Thou. This obliterates Torah as a communal message. Rosenzweig took exception to this line of reasoning. There has to be a communally, sociologically constructed set of rules. This is a connection to God that is mediated by Torah. PG: There is a notion of universal responsibility; that a few may be guilty but we are all responsible. (What is “laying tefillin? See: Placing God’s oneness before your eyes.) Hasidism also emphasizes a personal relationship with God – similar to the Buber concept. RG: Was Moses the only person to see God?” PG: In ancient times there were certain identified people who spoke with or heard God. They were Prophets. There is also the notion that Israel’s relationship with God was like that of a child and parent. First the relationship is very close and “hands on” but as the child grows and learns the lessons become internalized with only occasional refreshers via the study of Torah. LL: There is also a question as to the meaning of the word “see.” When God is a voice from a burning bush, or an angel wrestling with Jacob, or a pillar of smoke, he is “seen” only in a metaphorical sense. See footnote 6 on page 707 “The Rabbis speak similarly of the Sh’chinah, the Divine Indwelling, but that is not necessarily something visible to the physical eye.”
9:8 There are two different types of sacrifice that are described here. CJ: Some of this sacrifice takes place outside of the camp. PG: There is a procession in which what is sacrificed for the burnt offering is shown to the people – probably by Aarons sons.
9:15 The peoples purgation offering, etc. described in detail. PG: The elevation offering is held aloft but not consumed by fire. See Mary Douglas’s insights on this process and meaning of elevation. See also Notes on page 692.
9:22 “Fire came forth before the eternal….And all of the people saw, and shouted, and fell on their faces.” “…before the eternal…” can also be translated as “in front of” but the emphasis is on the fire.
The Haftarah for Sh’mini is Second Samuel, Chapter 6, verse 1 to chapter 7, verse 17.

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