Torah Study Notes 4-30-16

April 30, 2016

Plaut page 770

RB: The rest of the Jewish world is reading a Pesach Torah portion but the Reform movement considers Passover to be over as of last night. Accordingly we move on to this parsha of Leviticus.

16:1 This is after the death of Aaron’s sons due to strange fire. Aaron is not allowed to mourn. He must go through a purification ritual. Two he goats and a ram signify the importance of the sacrifice. The rabbinic understanding was that all of the “genetic material” came from the male and the female was merely a vessel. The purgation offering is a cleanser and the burnt offering is the actual sacrifice. Note the linen turban. The “kippah”  as worn by Jewish men today was likely borrowed from Islam in the 7th or 8th C. But see:  suggesting other sources.

16:6 Aaron is to offer his own bull of purgation… he shall place lots on the two goats…one for the Eternal and one for Azazel. The use of incense, the blood of the bull sprinkled with his finger seven times.  There are two instruments of purification: water and blood. There are rituals practiced in Africa today that are similar. Where did the bull come from? Aaron technically does not own anything.  The notion here is that sin can be purged by transfer to an animal – hence the “scapegoat.”

16:16 Expiation in the shrine then the blood is applied to the horns of the altar. This is “purging the shrine.” Here we have a confession of sins. The goat not sacrificed is left to wander in the wilderness. SF Does the sin of the sons of Aaron contaminate the entire community? Apparently, since some of the confession is for everyone.  See the controversial film Dogma that touches on the subject of atonement and confession. Note the communal confession becomes individual confession in Christianity. That is a response to the loss of the Temple. For Christians it is the notion of Christ dying for the sins of humanity as the purgation offering and sacrifice. The Jews replaced sacrifice with prayer. Prayer is how purgation and atonement is accomplished on Yom Kippur. The question posed in the Reform movement is how one lives in holiness and in covenant with God.  Azazel subsequently evolves into Satan. Note use of the word “el” in what is here an opposition figure. The Hebrew word “zaz” means to move. SF: Is this a precursor to the Kabbalist sitra achra – the dark side?

See page 780 for an essay re Azazel “a demonic being residing in the wilderness..” Compare to Amalek. which is used as a derogatory description of a hostile group. SF The sin never leaves the individual. The process of atonement is a process of personal repair.

16:27 The purgation offerings are taken outside the camp and consumed in fire. The person who does the burning must also be cleansed. Here is set forth the self denial on the seventh day of the seventh month – Yom Kippur – that is a “law for all time.”


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