Sacrificial Notes

“Sacrifice” has been an important concept in baseball since the 1880s and a Christian concept for far longer. The term came into English from Latin, via Old French, and is generally defined as giving up one thing to obtain another. “Sacrifice” in Hebrew The word “sacrifice” is sometimes used by English translators of the Hebrew […]

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Shemini: Language and Translation

“Moses spoke to Aaron and to Elazar and Ithamar, his remaining sons [banav ha-notarim], ‘Take the meal-offering that is left [ha-noteret] from the fire-offerings of HASHEM, and eat it unleavened near the Altar; for it is the most holy.’”

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Tzav: Something to Notice

“‘And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments,’ (Lev. 6:4). Sages in the School of R. Ishmael taught: The Torah teaches you good manners. The garments in which one cooks a dish for his teacher, he should not wear when he mixes a cup of wine for him.”

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Tzav: Great Source(s)

“People of the book”? — “People of the table,” too. With the repeated destruction of local and central sanctuaries, the power of the sacrificial system necessarily diminished. The decline of sacrifice did not end Jewish concern with food, but channeled it in a different direction. Meat-eating became separated for sacrifice, and non-sacrificial forms of worship […]

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Unintentional Soul-Fail: Pursuing Connections

Leviticus/Vayikra chapter 4 opens with a “soul” involved in an “unintentional” “failure.” Vayikra: Language and Translation offers five translations, with their associated notes and commentaries. For anyone seeking a drash [investigation] point, this could be a good spot to begin: What might it mean for a soul to fail unintentionally? And what, if anything, can […]

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Vayikra: Language and Translation

What does it mean that “a soul unintentionally fails [Nefesh ki-techeta bi-sh’gagah]…”? — Leviticus/Vayikra 4:1-2 Is this an ethical or ritual error? Was the “soul,” in contemporary understanding, alone involved? Here are five translations with associated notes, suggesting (no surprise) no agreement: YHWH spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel, saying: (Any) […]

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Sacrifice and Womb: Pursuing Connections

One of the reasons I started the “Opening the Book” blog series was my belief that the plethora of dvrei torah (plural of dvar [word] of Torah]) on the internet, as well as in print, doesn’t necessarily help anyone who is trying to prepare a dvar torah of their own, at least at the outset. […]

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Vayikra: Great Source(s)

By allowing laypersons to make their own sacrifices, under the auspices of the priests, the sacrificial laws gave people a degree of control over their spiritual lives. Inviting people into the sanctuary for the sacrifice, people felt themselves personally invited into God’s earthly home. In essence, the system of sacrifice provided a metaphor, a method, […]

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Korach: A Path to Follow

All the sacred gifts that the Israelites set aside for YHVH I give to you, to your sons, and to the daughters that are with you, as a due for all time. It shall be an everlasting covenant of salt [b’rit melach] before YHVH for you and for your offspring as well. — Bamidbar/Numbers 18:19 […]

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