Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column
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The Practice of Holiness
The contents of Leviticus are diverse but unified by the theme of holiness. The first seven chapters delineate the major types of sacrifices undertaken by Israelites individually and as a community. Chapters 8 to 10 record the emergence of sacred worship in ancient Israel by describing the initiation of the Priesthood and its first performance on the sanctuary altar. As a stern admonition, chapter 10 records an instance of improper officiating by two of Aaron's sons, who met their death at the hands of the Lord.
Chapter 11 is one of two major sources in the Torah for Kashrut or the dietary laws. The subject of purity informs chapters 12 to 15, which specify procedures for expiating impurity and susceptibility to danger. Continuing this theme, chapter 16 prescribes rites of Yom Kippur aimed at the periodic cleansing of the sanctuary and the Israelite people.
The Holiness Code
Leviticus 17 to 26 coheres as a literary unit, referred to as "the Holiness Code," because of the frequent use of the term Kadosh, "holy." This section begins by ordaining the place and form of proper worship of the God of Israel. It then defines the Israelite family and details improper sexual behavior, including incest Leviticus 18.
Perhaps the best-known part of Leviticus is chapter 19, which resonates with the Decalogue, combining ritual and ethical teachings. It is here that we read, "Love your fellow as yourself." Chapters 20 to 22 contain more on the Israelite family and ordain specifically priestly duties and prerogatives. In chapter 23, the festivals and other holy days of the year are scheduled in a calendar of sacred time.
The rest of the Holiness Code (chapters 2426) and its appendix (chapter 27) add instructions to the priests about the administration of the sanctuary and laws governing ownership of land and indebtedness. Here the source for the inscription on the Liberty Bell proclaims the inalienable right of the Israelite people to its land: "You shall proclaim release throughout the land for all its inhabitants" (25:10). In an epilogue (26:326), the Israelites are admonished to obey God and are forewarned of the consequences of disobedience, the most dire being exile from the land.
Animal Sacrifice and Modern Sensibilities
Discomfort with sacrificing animals as a way of worshiping God is hardly a modern phenomenon. The biblical prophets criticized the sacrificial system for its tendency to deteriorate into form without feeling. The Midrash envisions God saying "Better that they bring their offerings to My table than that they bring them before idols" Leviticus Rabbah 22:8). All religions of biblical time were based on sacrificial worship, and the Israelites could not conceive of religion without it.
…It may well be that animal offerings were an instinctive gesture on the part of human beings to express gratitude, reverence, or regret. The Bible pictures Cain, Abel, and Noah offering sacrifices without being commanded to do so. People must have felt that their prayers of gratitude or petition would seem more sincerely offered if they gave up something of their own in the process.
Presumably, this is why wild animals and fish were unacceptable as offerings. "I cannot sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that have cost me nothing" The offerings of first fruit, the firstborn of the flocks, and the symbolic redemption of the firstborn son may have been ways of recognizing that these gifts ultimately came from God, ways of conveying the faith that more blessings would be forthcoming so that these could be given up.
Western Wall reopens to worshipers after coronavirus restrictions relaxed
Plaza to be divided into as many prayer areas as possible in accordance with government social distancing regulations
The Western Wall Plaza reopened to worshipers on Tuesday morning.
The reopening comes after the government relaxed some of its coronavirus restrictions, including canceling the restriction on joining outdoor prayer services only within 500 meters from a person's home.
For the last few weeks, only 10 and then 19 worshipers could be at the Western Wall at any time, and only those who live in the Old City.
The plaza in front of the Western Wall will be divided into as many prayer areas as possible in accordance with government social distancing regulations, The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which operates the holy site, said in a statement.
"For the next few days, up to 300 worshipers will be allowed to come to the Western Wall plaza simultaneously, contingent on them wearing masks. Should the prayer areas all get full, worshipers will be requested to wait outside the entrances to the Western Wall, with the required distances between them, until space becomes available," the Foundation said.
Reports also said that worshipers will have their temperatures taken and personal details recorded before they can enter the plaza.
The Western Wall tunnels will remain closed for the time being.
Ideas, that help explain how the world works
Actor-Observer Asymmetry: We judge others based solely on their actions, but when judging ourselves we have an internal dialogue that justifies our mistakes and bad decisions.
Toilet Tissue from The Carol Burnett Show (full sketch)
A housewife (Carol Burnett) returns home after running some errands.
The Portion of Vayakhel
Following G-d's instructions concerning the building of the Mishkan (tabernacle), and following the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses gathers together the children of Israel and relays to them the word of G-d: "Take from amongst you gifts to G-d" (Exodus 35;5).
The Children of Israel are encouraged and urged to give with a generous spirit. "and every man that brought an offering (Hebrew- "tnufot") of gold unto G-d" (Exodus 35;22).
The letter "pei" in the word "tnufat" is doubled in such a way that the word is divided into two parts; "tnu" and "fot". That is to say that when a poor person comes to you give him "pot" (Hebrew- a piece of bread) and it will be considered as if you brought an offering, and therefore the double "pei" to teach us that whomever provides food for the needy receives a double reward. (Rmazei Yoel)