Taking One For the Team: Vayikra 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: When have your mistakes had negative consequences on others around you? How do you try to make up for these errors?

As the sacrificial system is introduced in the opening chapters of Leviticus, we learn that the ancient priests’ mishaps must be corrected for the sake of the entire community:

The Pitch: “If it is the anointed priest who has incurred guilt, so that blame falls upon the people, he shall offer for the sin of which he is guilty a bull of the herd without blemish as a sin offering to the LORD.” – Leviticus 4:3

Swing #1: “One who has been acknowledged as a leader must be even more careful than ordinary people not to fall into the trap of sin or even of error. For the masses are only too eager to point to him as their example when they sin, so that any sin of his – even one which he commits in error – may lead them to do evil on purpose.” – Jacob ben Jacob Moses of Lissa

Swing #2: “While I do not subscribe to a general theory of sacrifice, sacrifice is definitely a way to create, maintain, and restore a specific order. Its benefits are felt by the larger community or by an individual. When a person sins, inadvertently breaking any of YHWH’s laws, a specific sacrifice needs to be offered in order to restore the individual back into the community. Distinctions are made for various social groups: the sinning priest as well as the entire community have to sacrifice a bull …” – Gerald A. Klingbeil, Bridging the Gap: Ritual and Ritual Texts in the Bible

Swing #3: “He made a mistake while bringing an offering for the people’s guilt.” – Targum Pseudo-Jonathan

Late-Inning Questions: How do you think the Israelites felt knowing that the priests would make up for mistakes that would negatively impact the community? How important is it for us to have leaders that truly have our backs?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: We are dedicating this coming Shabbat to hunger awareness. Our program at our March 16th FNL and our talks at our March 17th Shabbat morning service will set a proper tone for the upcoming Passover holiday, in which we are charged with the notion of “All who are hungry, come and eat.” Please join us for a meaningful Shabbat.

The Big Inning at the End: This year, the minor leagues will experiment with several major innovations intended to speed up the pace of the game. Critics may complain, but every great game must at least consider evolving when their product needs improvement.

Shabbat Shalom!