Friday, October 31, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Leviticus 1-4

For this week I said to read Leviticus 1-4.  These are laws of sacrifices and I’m covering them now because of a previous verse about the two offerings brought at the end of the nazir vow.
The nazir had to bring a whole offering and a sin offering.  Why?
Jewish law says that there are four kinds of sins.
One is failing to obey a positive commandment.  For that, you bring a whole offering.  Positive commandments are obeyed out of love and devotion for Gd.  Whole offerings are made out of love and devotion for Gd.  The verse that shows the connection between whole offerings and failing to obey a positive commandment is Leviticus 1:4.
There was a long discussion on the Google Jewish group about this.  We had to traverse a lot of Jewish law to find and confirm the connection.  The citations include: Babylonian Talmud Yoma 36a, Zevachim 6a; Tosefta (a commentary from the time when Talmud was being put into writing) on Sedra Qodashim Tractate Menachot 10:3; and Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah Sefer Avodah Ma’aseh haKorbanot 3:13.  The last citation is a halakhah, a final ruling.
The point is that Leviticus 1:4 is about an individual laying on hands for a personal offering, so this verse does not refer to the tamid, the eternal daily whole offering made out of love and devotion for Gd.
Furthermore, there’s no reason for an individual to bring a whole offering, an olah, except one.  There are peace offerings and thank offerings and celebration offerings and the Pesach sacrifice, and those all come for happy occasions.  The whole offering is different.
And the difference is that it atones for an individual who did NOT obey a positive commandment.  The reason the nazir brings it is that he refused to drink wine, which is required for some observances like starting Shabbat or the Four Cups of wine drunk at the Passover Seder.
The order in which offerings are discussed is: whole offering, which starts back with Exodus 29:15-18 and 38-42 and continues in Leviticus 1; peace offerings, starting in Leviticus 3; and then the sin and asham offerings.  For next week, read Leviticus 4 carefully.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment