Torah Study Notes 5-21-16

May 21, 2016

Page 826 Leviticus, Emor

23:23 The first day of the seventh month… you shall observe complete rest….In the period leading up to the Day of Atonement you shall not work. What does “cut off” mean? Spiritually isolated but also separated from the community. It could also be divine punishment in which your life is shortened. The self denial is understood to be fasting. This is expanded upon in the Mishnah to cover anointing, wearing leather and “using the bed.”  The tradition of wearing white is a sign of humility and modesty. Also a rehearsal for death – a recognition of one’s mortality. Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur in the Reform movement was an occasion to get dressed up. RB When I was growing up at Camp Harlem the kids would wear white but not get dressed up – like a white tea shirt. A Sabbath of complete rest and self denial. LL These rules border on the ridiculous and for some people create a credibility gap for religious faith. RB Many of these things are ridiculous in the modern world but they prepare one mentally for a more spiritual state. SFin:  For the modern Jew the underlying intent is to become holier and we need steps and processes to do that. RB If the goal is to separate rules are helpful. They create a community that adheres to the same standard. LL What is the value of being separate from the rest of society? These are arguments for wearing the hajib and burkah. RB Multiculturism is now much more acceptable – as of the 1960s. SFink We can be part of a distinct group and still be part of the larger American society. AF Why didn’t the failure to enforce these draconian punishments create a lack of trust in the veracity of the text? RB: The rabbi’s responded in two ways: A shortening of one’s life was a signal and punishment in the afterlife  They also argued that the situation would resolve itself – the cows would come back if you couldn’t mend your fence on Shabbat.  Inevitably traditions have to be adapted to modern life or be rejected altogether.

33: The Eternal one spoke to Moses… This text is the origin of Sukkoth. The components are no work and making offerings. No sukkah is described here. This is all Priestly text. But starting with Parsha 39 is essentially an “editors note” by the Redactor. It goes into detail as to what is done to celebrate Sukkoth and when – the 7th month. Instruction as to how the booth is to be constructed is in the Talmud. AF: Where did all this come from? Were the similar practices in adjoining communities. LL Is this part of the Jungian impulse to create myths ala Joseph Campbell? See:

Is this a production designed by an early Seven Spielberg?  RB There was no other entertainment at the time. Our technology to some extent has robbed us of public events in which there is story telling. Our entertainments today are largely passive – watching instead of doing. It also an effort to affirm public values – the commemoration of the Exodus.

24:1  …Command the Israelite people to bring you oil… The so-called Eternal Light actually only burns from morning to evening. Here the word for “pact” is the translation of “bearing witness.” Prepare twelve  loaves of bread for the Eternal – to be eaten by Aaron and his sons. A fight broke out in the camp. The half Egyptian Israelite man blasphemed. Moses directed that he be stoned – to death – by the community. One who kills a beast, an eye for and eye and tooth for a tooth, etc  Why is it significant that his father was Egyptian? Referencing Pharaoh who was a God? RB Even if you are half Israelite you are still responsible for following the rules. Also, per the documentary hypothesis this was written by priests in Jerusalem and the blasphemer notably comes from the tribe of Dan in the north – where they had their own temple. See:


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