Torah Study Notes 3-19-16


March 19, 2016

Page 668

Leviticus generally is a description of the priestly cult. Sacrifice is  considered a means of restoring spiritual balance and order. The focus here is on mistakes that you were unaware of. Compare the Day of Atonement and the notion of expiation of guilt. There are different Hebrew words for transgression including shame.

4:27   Here the sin is unwitting. We atone when it is brought to our attention or via self realization. It is a Jewish tradition  and acceptable to inform others of the sins they have committed.(LL As long as you take no pleasure from it.)  The reference to “nose” also appears in the Song of the Sea and is a personification of anger. After the fall of the Temple it was apparent that the Rabbi’s were already using prayer as a form of expiation instead of via sacrifice through the intermediary of a priest. In the time of the Prophets this method of priestly sacrifice was already being questioned. There were four sects that responded differently to the destruction of the second Temple: Sadducees, Maccabeus, Essenes, and Pharisees. It is the Pharisees who came up with something new (now rabbinic Judaism) and personalized atonement via prayer.  Note that the usual sacrifice was of a ram – not a ewe who would be more valuable. The sacrifice of a ewe was for more important sins.

5:1 “If a person incurs guilt…” Doey: Why are there indentations in both the English and Hebrew? Note that 5:1 through 5:5 is all one sentence. Is there anything that ties all of these sins together? The first and last involve saying and hearing whereas the other two involve personal contact. The first also suggest one’s duty to come forward as a witness – even if someone else already has done so. SF: It appears that the goal here is to transform the individual – restoring a spiritual balance. There are sins that cannot be undone financially or via reparations.

5:7 If you cannot afford a sheep – bring pigeons. Purgation and burnt offerings to achieve expiation. If you cannot afford pigeons bring a tenth of an ephod of flour. Who decides what you can afford? SF We have to rely upon the honesty of the person. Shira: Someone will see what you are bringing to the Temple. What if the motive for giving is to show off? We see that today? Clearly all of this could lead to a perception of corruption. SF: When this was written who advised as to proper procedures? We don’t really know this historical context for all of this. LL: It is likely that when this was written all of the practices were in place. Note how removed we are today from contact with dead animals and their entrails. Not so for the agricultural communities of the time.

5:14 And the Eternal spoke to Moses… a person who sins without knowing it. The priest may make expiation for that person – who shall be forgiven in a variety of specific circumstances. There are different obligations for deceitful practices including robbery or fraud. LL: Today we know it is important psychologically to be cleansed via atonement. See:


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