Friday, April 18, 2008

Shabbat Shalom v'Chag Kasher v'Sameach

It's been a few weeks, but I finally got back on track with my Torah study. I schlepped the chumash to the tea shop on Wednesday and sat down with Acharei Mot, which includes the rituals of Yom Kippur and includes 2 positive and 26 negative mitzvoth according to the Sefer ha-Chinuch, including many relating to incest.

I think it's interesting that as we prepare for Pesach we're reading about Yom Kippur, on the other end of the calendar and equally as significant in the Jewish calendar. As we consider the rituals of Pesach and prepare for the week, we're tossed into also considering the rituals of Yom Kippur -- the Day of Atonement. So with this in mind, I carry on.

+ In Leviticus 16:6 it says Aaron was making expiation "for him and his household." The Midrash says that this meant Aaron was married, with a family, as his household. One could assume that "his household" refers to the Israelite community, nu? Which would mean perhaps that Aaron was celibate or the like just as we see Popes, Priests, Nuns and others nowadays. However, later in Leviticus 16:17 the reference is said as "When he has made expiation for himself and his household, and for the whole congregation of Israel ..." It is clear that "his household" must refer to his family, and though it could be narrowly interpreted as his lineage not counting a spouse, the sages mostly agree that Aaron was wed. I think this is a significant aspect of the early priests, simply because the later interpretations of the "priestly" lifestyle baffle me. The idea of priests, popes and nuns as "married" to G-d and thus remaining celibate has always confused me. The sages emphasized that it was necessary for Aaron and the priests to be married for how could a priest bear the community's "prayers and hopes unless he had learned to care for and share hopes and dreams of another?" I don't want someone to aid me in leading my life while not understanding those life moments that I am going through. It just makes sense!

+ I've always been perplexed by Leviticus 16:21, which references the "designated man" who is to take the scapegoat out into the wilderness and to an "inaccessible region." It alludes to this goat being taken away, never to be seen or found again, but obviously the "designated man" will know where the goat ended up, nu? There is little -- if anything -- written about the designated man -- how they chose him, who he was, how they knew if he really did release the goat, etc. I'm sure there's something more complex involved here, but I'm just not in the proper place to analyze it.

+ Leviticus 16:33 -- in the comments in Etz Chayim, the authors note that the "biblical conception, expiation was not the automatic result of performing certain acts. Purification resulted when G-d accepted the acts ... and granted expiation." This confuses me, of course, because how does one know that G-d had accepted the acts of expiation? Was it that in the Biblical period G-d was present and thus it was evident that he accepted the acts? So now that we are beyond the Biblical period, we just assume that we are good to go.

I have to close my ever-so-brief comments with some brilliant wisdom from a 19th century Hasidic master in reference to Leviticus 18:5:
Keep G-d's laws while you are young and vigorous. Do not wait to become pious when you are old and the urge to sin has fled.
Shabbat Shalom v'Chag Kasher v'Sameach, friends!