Torah Study Notes 3-26-16


March 26, 2016

Page 694

8:5   The ordination ritual of Aaron and his sons. A very detailed description of the Temple cult. The role of the rabbi is very different today. We don’t have the same level of ritual purity and instead focus on study and prayer. Here we have a description of the special clothing worn by priests. Aaron has four items that are unique to him. The umin and thurmin are speculated to be twelve stones that were stored in the breastplate – that reflected each of the tribes. About the time the temple was destroyed there was a consciousness of the corruption of the priesthood. Note that woman had a more active role in medieval Judaism than is generally thought. If the men were busy studying someone had to run the household and the business. SF There is something called the democratization of enlightenment which is self-actualization that effectively describes this process of change. See:

Also, after the fall of the second Temple there is a movement away from primogeniture with inherited status. Today we find relevance in this text via metaphor. There is also a notion from Avivah Zornberg that this text is all about managing the unconscious. She has a book about each book of the Torah. See:

8::10 Anointing the altar and Aaron and his sons. Here ‘the anointed one” is not the messiah it is a righteous king. The bull of purgation offering – obviously a very important offering. Here the offering is burned completely and no part is consumed by the priests. Note the “laying on of the hands” on the bull. (LL Here it appears that the sin of the priest is purged by transmission to the bull – hence one should not re-adsorb the sin by eating any part of the sacrifice. Instead it is consumed by divine fire)

8:18  The ram of burnt offering. An offering by fire – again the entire animal is consumed by the fire. Here God does not eat but can smell. LL – There is a current notion in anthropology that the process of cooking food is what made man separate from the apes – who spend at least half the day masticating their food to make it digestible. See:

RB – There is also an argument that making bread is indicative of the origins of civilization. See the work of Michael Pollan. Claude Levi- Strauss argued that there are three kinds of food – the raw, the cooked and the rotten. Grain is “rotted” by fermentation. See:


8:22 The ram of ordination.  The bread and the fat is an elevation offering and part of the ordination. Note the use of unleavened bread – matzoth. This might be a memory of the Exodus but there is no mention of it. Note that matzoth and mitzvah are written with the dame letter and much has been made of that.

8:30 The anointing oil. Confinement to the Tent of Meeting for seven days. The seven days are related to seven days of creation. RL As a practical matter how could they be locked up for seven days with all these bloody clothes?  Would the purification end with a destruction of the garments? Some have suggested that the seven days is actually Aaron sitting shiva in advance for the death of his sons.  SF Note that there is so much pressure and urgency in the modern world – these people had more time to develop and practice their rituals. RB: These people were bound by the seasonal cycle of their lives whereas today we are able to create our own cycles.

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