Torah Study Notes 3-21-15

NOTICE TO READERS: THESE NOTES SHOULD BE READ WITH PLAUT’S “THE TORAH – A MODERN COMMENTARY -REVISED EDITION.” THE SPEAKER AND DISCUSSION LEADER IS RABBI PAUL GOLOMB. ALL ERRORS ARE MY OWN

March 21, 2015
p. 664
3:1 The sacrifice of well being. See footnote – the exact meaning of this expression is uncertain but the Hebrew for “well being” is “shalom” – the same word for peace and refers to making whole that which has been torn asunder. The fat comes from the upper part of the animal. Mary Douglas – well known anthropologist – noted that the position of the sacrificed animal at the time of sacrifice was significant and modeled the ascent of Mt. Sinai. https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/shared/shared_uccer/unesco-pdfs/Purity_and_Danger_book_review_by_Ana_Zimmermann.pdf
See Karen Armstrong on this procedure as well. The portions of the animal not used in the sacrifice are eaten. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://classes.bus.oregonstate.edu/ba465h/Readings/Armstrong.doc
31:6 Offer one without blemish. Blood is dashed on all sides of the altar. A very detailed account of what is used and how it is done. Note that there is virtually the same text repeated three times when it could have been a single paragraph. It is designed for repetition like a mantra, the transmission of which is oral. Nachum Sarna has pointed out that the poetry of the entire Torah is a way of encouraging memorization. http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/5780/features/shabbat-shirah-song-takes-wing/
The prophetic readings tend not to have repetitions. The suggestion here is that any form of creativity or personal expression won’t actually work and the instructions must be followed precisely. Is the odor pleasing to the population present or a pleasing odor to God? Scripture is filled with anthropomorphic references to God – a warrior, an ancient sage and a woman. The rabbi’s reason that our understanding is limited by human language which cannot exactly describe the abstract and elusive character of God. Philosophers of the Middle Ages rejected all of these descriptions and instead described God as “wholly other.” But then how do we experience God – what makes for A connection that we can comprehend? Clearly the Torah is not a systematic philosophical text. LL: It is a series of teachings conveyed via stories that can be interpreted in a number of ways. The process of engagement is the critical factor .
31: 17 The fat and the blood belong to God. Once meat is slaughtered it has to be leached out with salt to remove the last vestiges of blood. Hence the use of kosher salt.
4:1 A priest who unwittingly incurs guilt shall make the sacrifice described. Note that the Talmud says that expiation can be achieved by confession. How can an observer know if a misdeed is intentional or unwitting? Generally, they cannot. But God, the suggestion is, knows. As does the sinner. Consider John Knowles “A Separate Peace.” Knowles never tells the reader if the misconduct by the narrator was intentional or accidental. Here we are talking about a community issue – an infraction that has ramifications within the community. Absolution must therefore be public – unlike sins which are confessed privately to a priest and are “salved” via prayer. CL: Frequently it is possible to divine intentions by appearances – premeditation via acts that preceded the misconduct.
Here we have seen that a leader in society, here a priest, make take responsibility for his mistakes.

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