Blood Diamond: Aharei Mot-Kedoshim 2020

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: What symbols mean the most to you? Are there things in your life that best symbolize who you are?

As the Israelites receive more instructions for sacrificial offerings, the priests’ handling of blood carries extra significance:

The Pitch: “The priest may dash the blood against the altar of the Lord at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and turn the fat into smoke as a pleasing odor to the Lord.” – Leviticus 17:6

Swing #1: “Nonsacrificial slaughter is perceived as a rejection of the earlier conception that the blood of an animal possessed an inherently sacred quality. [Moshe] Weinfeld notes that [this verse] demands that the blood of all slain non-game animals is to be brought to the Tent of Meeting and the blood sprinkled on the altar.” – Peter T. Vogt, Deuteronomic Theology and the Significance of Torah: A Reappraisal

Swing #2: “Loss of blood leads to death. Hence the power of life is contained in blood. If this is so, then one must deal cautiously with this power of life. And one must be attuned to those to whom life belongs: the deities and protectors of life. … There are countless ways in which blood can be used as a means of strength and of magic.” –  Hans Weissman, Blut

Swing #3: “[The fact that a] non-priest [is qualified to perform the sacrificial service on a private altar is] derived from [this verse, indicating that service at a great public altar may be performed only by a priest.]” – BT Zevachim 118a

Late-Inning Questions: The sight of blood often is considered disturbing, yet we cannot live without it. Is it uncomfortable to read about the blood of sacrificial offerings? Why are we reluctant to talk about some things that are essential for survival?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: I hope you’ll join us as we welcome our synagogue’s new Board and Officers and thank those who have concluded their service. Click here to register for this evening’s Kabbalat Shabbat and Board Installation at 5:00PM.

Shabbat Shalom!