Torah Study Notes 3-28-15

March 28, 2015

Page 690

7:1 The reparation offering. What is that? Last week we talked about violation of a prohibition where the act was inadvertent. Here the implication is that the sin was intentional. This has to do with fixing the harm that was done and then doing this sacrifice. If reparation has been made to the individual harmed why is there a sacrifice as well? To mend one’s relationship with God. “This is most holy.” To be “holy” means to be separated out from everything else. Like the Torah scrolls that are concealed in the ark and only brought out for ritual reading. JB: But isn’t it the words that are holy? PG: The term “kadosh” indicates that the object is intrinsically holy whereas “kodesh” refers to carrying holiness. What is the significance of dashing the blood on the altar? Note that blood is not to be consumed and should be avoided. There is a relationship between beauty and ethical good that is a subtext here. Before the 18th C. they were directly related. There may have been an aesthetic reason for abhorrence of blood. CL: In ancient contemporary societies it was common for the priests to eat what was sacrificed. PG: Some scholars argue that much of this was written as a form of scribal art and training. Accordingly, some of the oral tradition was never written down. The result is that the Torah is schematic.

7:7  The reparation offering is like the purgation offering. Again, the offering is consumed by the priest. Remember that most meals for the average person were bread and water. Grains were hardier and easier to store. MS: There must have been many priests. PG: Some of them operated from local sacrificial sites. Once everything became centralized things changed. You didn’t have to transport the animal a distance – you could bring money and buy an animal.

7:11 The sacrifice of well being. Here there is reference to “thanksgiving” which is the predecessor to the Pilgrim notion. The Reformation meant a return to the old testament and a rejection of religious authority from Rome. Also, it is the Torah that teaches the organization of society – something that the Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers were very focused on. Sunday as “the Lord’s day” was a Protestant innovation. There is a religious movement arguing that Saturday is the Lord’s day – the 7th Day Adventists.

7:16 A votive or free will offering. Note that one cannot consume a sacrifice after the time to do so has expired. It has to be eaten the same day – or the following day at latest. There is a health relationship here but the priest is not a doctor. The meat could have been smoked or salted it they really wanted to preserve the meat.

7:19 Flesh that touches anything impure shall not be eaten. One who violates this injunction shall “be cut off from kin.” This is understood as requiring a separation for purposes of re-purification. Note that fish are not sacrificed because they die immediately upon being caught. Ritual killing is an intrinsic part of the ritual of sacrifice. Also, only domesticated animals were sacrificed. One could not sacrifice something one did not own.

7:22 You shall eat no fat of ox, or sheep or goat… or you shall be cut off from kin, Also, again one who eats blood shall be cut off from kin and need to be repurified.

7:28 The offering from a sacrifice of well being… the breast shall be elevated and distributed to Aaron’s sons. Why the right thigh but not the left? No one really knows – there may be a mystical aspect here. A violation causes a tear in the universe that must be repaired. The repair must be done just right – hence all of these details. Thoreau, upon seeing a stone wall collapse due to repeated rains, saw a metaphor for the inevitability of decay. We cannot rely on appearances of well being.  Consider the concept of “tara neshek” – the greater responsibility that is fundamental in the Israeli army. The greater the rank the greater the responsibility – so one must physically lead rather than merely direct troops. See the essay by Meir Palil in Modern Jewish Ethics edited by Marvin Fox and published in 1974.  Rabbi wrote an essay “The More Things Change” that is posted on the website.

7:35 The prerequisites of Aaron and his sons once they have been anointed.

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