Torah Study Notes 2-28-15

February 28, 2015

p. 565 Continues the story of Moses and his return to the top of the mountain – where he learns of the construction of the tabernacle, including the tent of meeting etc. This section addresses the dress of the priests and their investiture.

28:31 You shall make the robe of the ephod of pure blue.  What is the meaning of the phrase “…that he      shall not die?” This sounds like belling the cat – a method by which the person announces their presence. There is evidence of this in other ancient cultures – a method of dispelling evil spirits. Consider the word Pasach. One of those words that have two meanings: lively jumping and immobility. Hence, God is leaping over the houses of the Israelites while at the same time “standing fast” guarding the houses of Israelites while an evil spirit takes the lives of the Egyptian first born. There it is explicit that there is a supernatural being(s) other than God. Here the bells make sense in terms of chasing away the evil spirits. Note the pomegranate shape of the embroidery.  This is a distinctive shape and the pomegranate is filled with seeds. The crowns on the top of the torah scrolls are pomegranates. The scrolls are dressed in the garb of a priest.

28:36 A frontlet of pure gold. Much of this was picked up by Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox. Note that there is an agreement on the part of the community that there is sanctification here. This will only work if everyone believes it and it is done precisely. Note also that the promulgation of the text is a description of what has been happening in post-exilic Israel. LL: This is the essence of theatre – the willing suspension of disbelief. PG: There is a museum in Toronto – the Gardiner – that has a collection of ancient clothing. There is much discussion about the evolution of shaped clothing.

29:1 The procedure to be consecrated as priests “And they shall have priesthood for their right for all time.” Moses has sole authority to invest the first priests. Once they are post-exilic someone must play the part of Moses. LL: The process of the selection of priests is a very interesting one from culture to culture and in different faiths. Originally in Catholicism the position of priest was inheritable because priest were permitted to marry. Once the Curia found that lands were devolving to the offspring of priests the rule of celibacy was imposed.

Aside by PG – what happens after the final judgment? Life goes on – but differently. That is the feeling among a part of the Muslim population today. Expressions of extremism usually appear during times of social duress. That is the situation in the Middle East today. Remember that all of Europe was in flames from about 1600 to 1720.  In the face of certain things there is a rabbinic concept “Sit and do nothing.” See:

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