Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Torah Tidbits: Parshat Tzav

Back to catch up... : (

6:6 - "Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually [תָּמִיד]; it shall not go out."  Not go out at allEver?  What about when the mishkan was moved from place to place?  Seems like a pretty important detail not better explained here...

6:7-10 - Concerning "the law of the meal-offering":   In 6:7, we read "the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD, in front of the altar"; verse 8, however, begins with "And he shall take up therefrom his handful..."  Who is the "he"?  An individual son?   I do like, however, the sentiment that the portion of the meal-offering not burned on the altar goes to Aaron and his sons, to "be eaten without leaven in a holy place" [מַצּוֹת תֵּאָכֵל בְּמָקוֹם קָדֹשׁ], as if the lack of leavening is what makes it holy.  (Interesting also to see matza mentioned outside of the Passover context!)

6:16-19 - Here we first read that "every meal-offering of the priest shall be wholly made to smoke; it shall not be eaten."  But we just read above (6:9) "And that which is left thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat" in unleavened form.  Which is it?  Is part of the meal-offering set aside or not?  We then read that of the sin offering, "The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it; in a holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tent of meeting."  Why would it be all right for the priest to eat the sin offering but not the meal offering?!?

7:7-10 - Interesting discussion about different kinds of offerings and under which circumstances parts (or all) of what is left over belong to the priest who effected the offering.  Is this some kind of tribute system?  Seems to me that there's a built in conflict-of-interest situation if priests can personally benefit from the guilt- and sin-offerings of the people...but that's just me I guess.

7:20-21 - "But the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace-offerings, that pertain unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from his people [וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מֵעַמֶּיהָ]."  I have already commented on this formulation here.  But I still wonder what it means.  Banishment?  Death?  Ostracism?

7:23 - "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: Ye shall eat no fat, of ox, or sheep, or goat."  Huh.  If I recall correctly, there's nothing in the laws of kashrut about not earing fat of animals otherwise fit to eat.  So what's the deal with this?  Is this verse specifically speaking about animals used for sacrifice?  If so it's not clear...

7:26 - "And ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings [בְּכֹל מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם]."  Two observations:  First, the prohibition against eating blood which is part of kashrut comes right after a similar kind of prohibition against eating "fat, of ox, or sheep, or goat" that isn't part of kashrut.  That's a bit strange.  Second, and more importantly, what is the meaning of the boundary condition "in any of your dwellings"?  This clearly seems to imply that there are places that do not fall under the category of "any of your dwellings" in which one might eat blood.  But surely this can't the case!  Why are "dwellings" mentioned?!?

7:29 - This has to be one of the most circular verses in the Torah:  "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: He that offereth his sacrifice of peace-offerings unto the LORD shall bring his offering unto the LORD out of his sacrifice of peace-offerings."  From where else would one's peace-offerings come if not from one's peace-offerings?!?  What am I missing here?!?

7:34 - "For the breast of waving [חֲזֵה הַתְּנוּפָה] and the thigh of heaving [שׁוֹק הַתְּרוּמָה] have I taken of the children of Israel out of their sacrifices of peace-offerings..."  Strange locutions!

8:1-36 - This entire chapter is devoted to a blow-by-blow repetition of everything we've already read about the investiture of Aaron and his sons as priests in Tetzaveh.  I know some things are repeated for emphasis, but even this is a little strange:  an entire chapter of 30+ verses that could have been summarized by saying 'And Moses invested Aaron and his sons as priests as the LORD had commanded him.'  I suppose the point of this is to make absolutely clear that Moses did, in fact, do exactly as God had asked.  But it still seems redundant.

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