These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on March 23, 2012 by Barer

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It is always hard exegetically to transition from Bereishit and Shmot to Vayikra (from Genesis and Exodus to Leviticus).  However tough it might be to draw a message from repeated details about building the Mishkan (Tabernacle), it is nothing compared to the density of chapter after chapter detailing how much blood – from non-human animals the priest slaughtered – from which finger should be sprayed on which corner of the altar to atone for your sins.  Given that, there are a few solitary details in the parsha that deserve some attention.  One of them is that, even though the importance placed on sacrifice in ancient Judaism is a common bond it shared with other religions, the parsha does try to make clear that there are specifically Jewish ways of sacrificing.  No chametz (leavened bread) or honey may be part of our ritual sacrifices to atone for sins (2:11).  Some of the commentaries, citing rabbinic understanding, state that this is decreed purely to separate Israelite sacrifice from other religious traditions.  Further, in a fascinating series of passages in the Gemarah, the rabbis assert that Hashem had to wean the Israelites off of the need to perform sacrifices.  Taken together with this parsha, that implies that differentiating Israelite sacrifice by excluding honey and bread is the first step towards eventually serving Hashem in the purer form of prayer.

Sacrifice, at first

Moving towards davenning

To begin: no bread