Thursday, May 10, 2012

Parshat Emor, 5772/2012 thoughts

You can read the the basics of Parshat Emor (Vayikra/Leviticus 21:1–24:23here.

From Vayikra/Leviticus, chapter 23:
ה בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן, בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר לַחֹדֶשׁ--בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם: פֶּסַח, לַיהוָה. 5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at dusk, is the LORD'S passover.

ו וּבַחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה, חַג הַמַּצּוֹת לַיהוָה: שִׁבְעַת יָמִים, מַצּוֹת תֹּאכֵלוּ. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD; seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread.

Hayyim Schauss, in his The Jewish Festivals:  History and Observance (1938) claims that, historically, Pesach/Passover started out as two separate festivals.  Pesach was a nomadic shepherd's festival, celebrated by sacrificing a lamb and smearing the blood on the tent posts.  It was a home festival.  Chag HaMatzot, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was a farmer's festival, celebrated by giving the first sheaf of the new crop of barley to the local priest.  Over the years, and especially after King Josiah's reforms centralized sacrificial worship at the Bet HaMikdash/Holy Temple in Jerusalem, making the smearing of the lamb's blood on the tent posts or door posts of one's home impossible, the two holidays were merged into one, Z'man Cheruteinu/The Season of Our Liberation.
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