Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Parshat Tetzaveh, 5772/2012 thoughts

You can read the basics for Parshat Tetzaveh/Tetsaveh/T'tsaveh (whatever) here.

I guess I was particularly struck, on this reading, by the fact that Aharon/Aaron and his descendents were awarded the hereditary priesthood/k'hunah for, apparently, no reason other than that Aharon was Moshe's/Moses's brother. It would appear that good old-fashioned nepotism is a pretty ancient method for assigning jobs and status.

I also find it ironic that the blood from the slaughtered animals, sprinkled on Aharon's and his sons' priestly garments, helped sanctify both them and their garments. Under most other circumstances that I can think off, natural bodily fluids, when outside of the body, make a person ritually impure.

See my previous Tetzaveh post, Parshat Tetzaveh: P'til techelet, & other mysteries (Thursday, February 10, 2011). Highlight:

"Note that, as I kvetched/complained previously in discussing Parshat Terumah, we (still) have no definition of an ephod or a breastplate. We also have no actual description of the "mitre," though it seems to have had a pure-gold "Holy to HaShem" sign attached to it.

The breastplate was attached to the ephod by a p'til techelet, a thread of blue, and the gold "sign" had a p'til techelet on the front, as well. (See chapter 28, verse 28 and verse 37.) What was the significance of techelet (blue) in general, and of a p'til techelet (blue thread) in particular, that it was considered sacred enough for use in the Beit HaMikdash/Holy Temple . . . " See the comments to that post for a nice discussion on the use of a blue thread in tzitzit in our day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the priesthood was really secured by Aaron's grandson by his actions at the end of the section of Balak and was given him at the beginning of the next sedra, Pinchas.

Fri Mar 02, 09:51:00 AM 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not the first person who felt that Aaron was selected by nepotism. Korach felt the same way many, many years ago.

Fri Mar 02, 10:02:00 AM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Not so, Anon. 9:51--in chapter 28 of this parshah, Aharon and his sons are already given the priesthood in perpetuity.

Fri Mar 02, 10:38:00 AM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Anon. 10:02, I've said it before and I'll say it again--I think Korach had a point.

Fri Mar 02, 11:04:00 AM 2012  
Anonymous Akiva said...

I'll be honest - your argument about Korach doesn't make much sense. You concede in your comment on that post that Korach died in pursuing his nepotism point - which would seem to point to your acceptance of the fact that Hashem did in fact choose Aharon and family as kohanim. [For the record, I'm Orthodox - hence I take that as a given - and a Kohen - so I have a personal stake in this issue :) - but am not sure what, exactly, you accept as a given]. If so, that would seem to clearly indicate that it was not mere nepotism, but merit - obviating your complaint.

As for "lording it over the other tribes" - recall that the tribe of Levi got no portion of the Land of Israel, unlike the other tribes. Beyond that, Levites and Kohanim served in shifts (2 weeks at a time for Kohanim in the Bais HaMikdash era) and were entitled to their portions of various sacrifices only while "on shift". Doesn't seem like all that sweet of a deal.

Mon Mar 05, 06:39:00 PM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Akiva, perhaps I used the term "nepotism" incorrectly, since HaShem, not Moshe, chose Moshe's brother and his descendents. What I meant was that HaShem didn't even consider a candidate who wasn't related to Moshe. The death of Korach during his protest against this "family favoritism" doesn't prove that it wasn't favoritism, though it does confirm that the favoritism was of G-d's choosing.

You may have a point about the portion of the Kohanim and Leviim not having been such a great bargain.

Tue Mar 06, 01:38:00 PM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Re the sacrificial blood as sanctifier, my husband pointed out that it's *human* blood that causes tumah/ritual impurity. I stand corrected.

Tue Mar 06, 01:45:00 PM 2012  

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