Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Parashat Vayikra, 5774/2014 edition

Basics here.

Links to my previous posts hereI’m still recommending that you read the comment by Reform Baal Teshuvah, which is better than anything I’ve written regarding this parashah.

Leviticus Chapter 2 וַיִּקְרָא

יא כָּל-הַמִּנְחָה, אֲשֶׁר תַּקְרִיבוּ לַיהוָה--לֹא תֵעָשֶׂה, חָמֵץ: כִּי כָל-שְׂאֹר וְכָל-דְּבַשׁ, לֹא-תַקְטִירוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה. 11 No meal-offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven; for ye shall make no leaven, nor any honey, smoke as an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

יב קָרְבַּן רֵאשִׁית תַּקְרִיבוּ אֹתָם, לַיהוָה; וְאֶל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא-יַעֲלוּ, לְרֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ. 12 As an offering of first-fruits ye may bring them unto the LORD; but they shall not come up for a sweet savour on the altar.

יג וְכָל-קָרְבַּן מִנְחָתְךָ, בַּמֶּלַח תִּמְלָח, וְלֹא תַשְׁבִּית מֶלַח בְּרִית אֱלֹהֶיךָ, מֵעַל מִנְחָתֶךָ; עַל כָּל-קָרְבָּנְךָ, תַּקְרִיב מֶלַח. {ס} 13 And every meal-offering of thine shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meal-offering; with all thy offerings thou shalt offer salt. {S}

A former rabbi of ours taught that leaven and honey were forbidden in a meal offering because the local pagans used both as sex symbols in their fertility rites. Using salt instead may have been an in-y0ur-face rejection of the prevailing practice.

Leviticus Chapter 3 וַיִּקְרָא

ג וְהִקְרִיב מִזֶּבַח הַשְּׁלָמִים, אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה--אֶת-הַחֵלֶב, הַמְכַסֶּה אֶת-הַקֶּרֶב, וְאֵת כָּל-הַחֵלֶב, אֲשֶׁר עַל-הַקֶּרֶב. 3 And he shall present of the sacrifice of peace-offerings an offering made by fire unto the LORD: the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,

Here, the punctuation indicates that what’s being discussed is fat, cheylev.  Elsewhere in the Torah/Bible, we’re commanded not to boil a kid (of the baby-goat variety) in its mother’s milk, chalav.  The only difference is in the punctuation.   But the original text doesn’t have any punctuation!  So how do we know that the prohibition is against boiling (cooking?) a kid in its mother’s milk, rather than in its mother’s fat?  Is our current understanding and practice of the prohibition based solely on rabbinic interpretation?

טז וְהִקְטִירָם הַכֹּהֵן, הַמִּזְבֵּחָה--לֶחֶם אִשֶּׁה לְרֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ, כָּל-חֵלֶב לַיהוָה. 16 And the priest shall make them smoke upon the altar; it is the food of the offering made by fire, for a sweet savour; all the fat is the LORD'S.

יז חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם, בְּכֹל מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם--כָּל-חֵלֶב וְכָל-דָּם, לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ. {פ} 17 It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings, that ye shall eat neither fat nor blood. {P}

Ah, maybe this is the answer:  The rabbis had to interpret the mother’s ch_l_v as chalav, milk, because we’re already forbidden to eat kol cheylev, all fat.

יא וְאֶת-עוֹר הַפָּר וְאֶת-כָּל-בְּשָׂרוֹ, עַל-רֹאשׁוֹ וְעַל-כְּרָעָיו; וְקִרְבּוֹ, וּפִרְשׁוֹ. 11 But the skin of the bullock, and all its flesh, with its head, and with its legs, and its inwards, and its dung,

יב וְהוֹצִיא אֶת-כָּל-הַפָּר אֶל-מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה אֶל-מָקוֹם טָהוֹר, אֶל-שֶׁפֶךְ הַדֶּשֶׁן, וְשָׂרַף אֹתוֹ עַל-עֵצִים, בָּאֵשׁ; עַל-שֶׁפֶךְ הַדֶּשֶׁן, יִשָּׂרֵף. {פ} 12 even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire; where the ashes are poured out shall it be burnt. {P}

So the Sin Offering isn’t eaten at all by anyone?  . . .

יג  וְכִפֶּר עָלָיו הַכֹּהֵן עַל-חַטָּאתוֹ אֲשֶׁר-חָטָא, מֵאַחַת מֵאֵלֶּה--וְנִסְלַח לוֹ; וְהָיְתָה לַכֹּהֵן, כַּמִּנְחָה.  {ס}
13 And the priest shall make atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in any of these things, and he shall be forgiven; and the remnant shall be the priest's, as the meal-offering. {S}
. . . unless it’s a sacrifice for a sin mentioned in Chapter 5?

כ וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. 20 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:

כא נֶפֶשׁ כִּי תֶחֱטָא, וּמָעֲלָה מַעַל בַּיהוָה; וְכִחֵשׁ בַּעֲמִיתוֹ בְּפִקָּדוֹן, אוֹ-בִתְשׂוּמֶת יָד אוֹ בְגָזֵל, אוֹ, עָשַׁק אֶת-עֲמִיתוֹ. 21 If any one sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and deal falsely with his neighbour in a matter of deposit, or of pledge, or of robbery, or have oppressed his neighbour;

כב אוֹ-מָצָא אֲבֵדָה וְכִחֶשׁ בָּהּ, וְנִשְׁבַּע עַל-שָׁקֶר; עַל-אַחַת, מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶׂה הָאָדָם--לַחֲטֹא בָהֵנָּה. 22 or have found that which was lost, and deal falsely therein, and swear to a lie; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein;

כג וְהָיָה, כִּי-יֶחֱטָא וְאָשֵׁם--וְהֵשִׁיב אֶת-הַגְּזֵלָה אֲשֶׁר גָּזָל אוֹ אֶת-הָעֹשֶׁק אֲשֶׁר עָשָׁק, אוֹ אֶת-הַפִּקָּדוֹן אֲשֶׁר הָפְקַד אִתּוֹ; אוֹ אֶת-הָאֲבֵדָה, אֲשֶׁר מָצָא. 23 then it shall be, if he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took by robbery, or the thing which he hath gotten by oppression, or the deposit which was deposited with him, or the lost thing which he found,

כד אוֹ מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר-יִשָּׁבַע עָלָיו, לַשֶּׁקֶר--וְשִׁלַּם אֹתוֹ בְּרֹאשׁוֹ, וַחֲמִשִׁתָיו יֹסֵף עָלָיו: לַאֲשֶׁר הוּא לוֹ יִתְּנֶנּוּ, בְּיוֹם אַשְׁמָתוֹ. 24 or any thing about which he hath sworn falsely, he shall even restore it in full, and shall add the fifth part more thereto; unto him to whom it appertaineth shall he give it, in the day of his being guilty.

Finally, a little justice sneaks in alongside the no-longer-practiced sacrifices!

~ Rav Shai Held writes about the sacrificial system as “a small pocket of reality in which God’s will is heeded and perfectly executed, in which chaos and disorder are kept at bay.”  Personally, I can’t see how a giant ritual slaughterhouse can meet that description, but you can  judge for yourself.
~ Rav Shlomo Riskin writes about love and sacrifice.

~ Rav Dov Linzer discusses the human need for a physical form of worship.


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