Inspected By 12: Emor 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you feel incomplete if you don’t do certain morning routines? Do you feel incomplete if you don’t have certain items at your disposal at all times? How do you cope with such moments of incompletion?

As the Torah lays out rules for sacrifices, we learn that God expects that such animals must be, in a sense, “complete”:

The Pitch: “Anything blind, or injured, or maimed, or with a wen, boil-scar, or scurvy—such you shall not offer to the LORD; you shall not put any of them on the altar as offerings by fire to the LORD. You may, however, present as a freewill offering an ox or a sheep with a limb extended or contracted; but it will not be accepted for a vow. You shall not offer to the LORD anything [with its testes] bruised or crushed or torn or cut. You shall have no such practices in your own land …” – Leviticus 22:22-24

Swing #1: “Castration of men and animals is unconditionally forbidden. The phrase ‘in your land’ does not limit the ban to the land of Israel; it implies ‘everything in your land,’ including unclean beasts.” – Sifra

Swing #2: “The exception to the rule here concerns a voluntary offering; a defective animal would of course not be acceptable in the case of a hattat, for example.” – Everett Fox, The Five Books of Moses

Swing #3: “Do the compilers [of the text] mean to prohibit ‘profane slaughter’? This denotes the consumption of animals in noncultic settings. It is most likely that the current statutes do not intend to apply to that. They do not prohibit the repetition of the expression ‘holy convocation.’ … These laws do not stipulate what the people must do to become holy or to remain holy; instead, they call on a holy people to incorporate regular reminders of the Lord into their lives. The goal is to maintain a zeal for holiness and devotion to the Lord.” – Timothy M. Willis, Leviticus

Late-Inning Questions: Do our commentators understand the rules for sacrifices as a metaphor for human purity? Do these rules reflect an inherent respect for animals? Or are these animals seen as disposable? What do our attitudes about animals say about our attitudes about other people?

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 routines, baseball players are known for being extremely superstitious. For instance, Hall of Famer Wade Boggs ate chicken before every single game he played in the Major Leagues. There’s no way of knowing whether that diet helped his on-field performance — but given his professional success, it certainly didn’t hurt it.

Shabbat Shalom!