Friday, January 23, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Leviticus 5

For this week you were supposed to read Leviticus 5, and also Numbers 5:5-7 and 14:12.
I showed that tumah is not a permanent condition and the transition back to being tahor requires a waiting period and a positive act, immersion; anything that can’t survive immersion or for which immersion is impractical, cannot change from tameh to tahor.
The analog of this is the sin offering, also the whole offering and something usually translated as “guilt offering,” the asham.
I already discussed the sin offering to death. 
If a person believes he sinned, but can’t get anybody to agree that he owes a sin offering, he can bring a suspensive guilt offering.  I already mentioned that.
The asham is different.  First, there are six specific transgressions that require an asham and they all involve a court case: a nazir who becomes tameh; an unconscious error involving an oath; non-religious use of sacred things (meilah); theft; completing the quarantine for leprosy; and having sex with a bonded girl who has been designated a bride.  Whatever leads to an asham is the fourth kind of sin.
The issue of meilah is the standout indicator that an asham requires a court case.  If somebody is convicted of meilah, he owes a fine in the amount of the value of the object used, plus 25%.  This is the “added fifth”.  You and I would normally think that an “added fifth” meant payment of 120% but it’s actually 125%.  The original amount is conceived of as divided into four equal parts, and the “added fifth” is the same size.  So it’s 125%, not 120%.  This money goes to the temple.
I already said that the burden of proof lies with A when he is trying to take property from B, and burden of proof necessarily means proof in court.  Somebody who commits meilah or theft doesn’t have to pay restitution until he has been convicted in court. 
And obviously, for a court case, there have to be witnesses.  But that doesn’t mean that priests walk around trying to catch people committing meilah any more than they walk around handing out sin offerings.
The issue about the bonded girl and the requirement for a trial falls out of other commandments.  Read Deuteronomy 22:13-29 for next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment