Acharei Mot: Language and Translation

Sound and word patterns evident in the Hebrew text do not always translate well into other languages. Fox* notes that Chapter 17 of Leviticus/Vayikra is “built at least partially on repeating sound patterns”:

A threefold refrain is “That man is to be cut off from his kinspeople,” stressing the seriousness of the prohibition. Four times we hear “any-man, any-man” (Heb. ish ish), reinforcing the unusually broad scope of the command indicated by the beginning of the chapter (“to Aharaon and to his sons and to all the Children of Israel”). Finally, in v. 10 through 15, the word nefesh occurs nine times, with the alternating meanings of “person” and “life” (the pattern is 1-3-1-3-1 in these meanings). — p.588

JPS* and Alter* translations — like Fox* (quoted below) — use “life of the flesh” for “nefesh ha-basar.” Stone, however, uses “soul of the flesh” to emphasis the word repetition Fox mentions above: “For the soul of the flesh is in the blood and I have assigned it for you upon the Altar to provide atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that atones for the soul” (Lev. 17:11).

And any-man, any-man [v’ish ish] of the House of Israel or of the
sojourners that sojourn in their midst
that eats any blood;
I set my face against the person [nefesh] who eats the blood;
I will cut him off from amid his kinspeople!

For the life [nefesh] of the flesh — it is in the blood;
I (myself) have given it to you upon the slaughter-site, to effect-ransom for your lives [nafshoteichem],
for the blood — it effects ransom for life [ba-nefesh]!

Therefore I say to the Children of Israel:
Every person [kol-nefesh] among you is not to eat blood,
and the sojourner that sojourns in your midst is not to eat blood.

And any-man, any-man [v’ish ish] of the Children of Israel or of the
sojourner that sojourns in your midst
who hunts any hunted wild-animal or a bird that may be eaten
is to pour out its blood and cover it with the dust.

For the life [ki-nefesh] of all flesh — its blood is its life [nafsho]!
So I say to the Children of Israel:
The blood of all flesh you are not to eat,
for the life [nefesh] of all flesh — it is its blood,
everyone eating it shall be cut off!

And any person [v’chol nefesh] that eats a carcass, or an …
–Leviticus/Vayikra 11-15, Fox translation

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Acharei Mot: Great Source(s)

The Holy One declares no creature unfit, but receives them all. The gates [of mercy] are open at all times, and he who wishes to enter may enter.

R. Meir said: What is the proof that even a Gentile who occupies himself with Torah is like a high priest? Scripture says, “With which if a man occupy himself, he shall live by them (Lev. 18:5). It does not say, “A priest, a Levite, an Israelite,” but, “A man.” Hence you many infer that even a non-Jew who occupies himself with Torah is like a high priest.

R. Jeremiah used to say: What is the proof that even a Gentile who keeps the Torah is like a high priest? The verse “Which if a man do, he shall live by them.” Scripture also says, “This is the Torah of man, O Lord God ” (2 Sam 7:19) –not “of priests, Levites or Israelites,” but “of man.” Scripture also says, “Open ye the gates, that the righteous Gentile…may come in (Isa 26:2) — not that “priests, Levites, or Isrealites may come in,” but that “the righteous Gentile who keeps the faith may come in.” Scripture also says, “This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter it” (Ps. 118:20) — not priests, Levites, or Israelites shall enter it,” but “the righteous shall enter it.” Scripture also says, “Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous” (Ps. 33:1) — not “Rejoice, O ye priests, Levites, and Israelites…” but “Rejoice…O ye righteous.” Scripture also says, “Do good, O Lord, unto the good” (Ps. 125:4) — not “to priests, Levites, and Israelites,” but “Do good, O Lord, unto the good.”

Thus even a Gentile who keeps the Torah is like a high priest.

— from The Book of Legends, 354:151, Bialik and Ravnitzky*
Bottom sources: Babylonia Talmud Sanhedrin 59a and Baba Kama 38a; Exodus Rabbah 19:4, and Sifrei Leviticus 86b

Vayikra/Leviticus 18:5 is also cited by Rabbi Judah, in the name of Samuel, when he heard about five traveling rabbis considering, “How do we know that danger to human life supersedes the laws of the Sabbath?”: If I had been there, I should have told them something better than what they said: He shall live by them, but he shall not die because of them. — Babylonian Talmud Yoma 85a (also found in Bialik & Ravnitzky, 683:39)
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