Location, Location, Location: Aharei Mot-Kedoshim 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you like to travel to places where famous historical events transpired? How do you feel when you walk in the same places where people changed the world?

Location mattered in our ancient texts as well, as evidenced by the Torah’s rules for sacrifices:

The Pitch: “Say to them further: If anyone of the house of Israel or of the strangers who reside among them offers a burnt offering or a sacrifice, and does not bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting to offer it to the LORD, that person shall be cut off from his people.” – Leviticus 17:8-9

Swing #1: “Said the Lord to Moses: ‘To you I have revealed the reason for the prohibition against slaughtering sacrifices outside the Sanctuary. But you must not tell it to the Children of Israel. For if they were to know the reason, there would be some who would persuade themselves that their offering would be no less sincere if it were made outside the Sanctuary. But for every commandment there are other, hidden reasons and purposes beyond those explicitly stated in Scripture. Therefore, it is just as well that you do not give them any reason at all for My command.’” – Bikkurei Aviv

Swing #2: “Now that the Israelites would become accustomed to bringing their sacrifices to the Tabernacle they would no longer follow the pagans, who slaughtered to demons in the middle of the fields.” – Alshekh

Swing #3: “The priestly history employs many ways to indicate otherness of the ger: in the common comparison with the ezrah; by juxtaposing the ger with ‘someone from the members/households of Israel’ in casuistic formulations; and by representing the ger as one of two separate addressees of the law.” – Simeon Chavel, Oracular Law and the Priestly Historiography in the Torah

Late-Inning Questions: While one of our commentators explains why the Israelites don’t need to know why they had to bring their sacrifices to a particular place, to other commentators, the reasons are fairly obvious. How important is it for us to assign special status to a particular location? Do we have the authority to call any place “holy ground”? Or should that be reserved for God alone?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Join us for a lovely Shabbat of song as we welcome Hebrew College cantorial student Jessica Woolf to Emanu-El on the weekend of May 4th-5th. Jessica will lead Friday night services at 6:00PM. She also will lead part of Saturday morning services starting at 9:30AM, as well as Junior Jam with our youth.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of “holy ground”, the locations of many ballparks of yesteryear are commemorated with signs or placards. Perhaps the oddest example is in Minneapolis; the location of home plate from Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins for more than 25 years, is covered by a bronze plaque on the floor of the middle of the Mall of America.

Shabbat Shalom!