korbanot

Vayikra-Zachor: Remembering Sacrifices

One of the fiercest debates amongst Biblical commentators of the medieval period was to what extent, if at all, parts of the Torah may be seen as allegorical. No less a personage than the Rambam claimed that stories such as the three angels visiting Avraham, or Yaakov’s struggle with an angel, were prophetic visions that did not actually occur. As one can imagine, views such as these—and more radical ones, which allegorized such mitzvot as the “sign on our arm”, i.e., tefillin—met with vociferous opposition.

Vayikra: Time to Reflect

When making reference to biblical verses, we tend to identify them by chapter and verse. This most convenient system is of non-Jewish origin and occasionally deviates from the division of texts as understood by our Sages. While one might be tempted to say that a more traditional approach would divide the text according to parshat hashavua (the weekly Torah reading cycle), that, too, is of later origin. Our division into 54 parshiot was only finalized in the middle ages, hundreds of years after the close of the Talmudic period.

Vayikra: G-d Is Near

Perhaps Man’s greatest fear is his ultimate irrelevance, that we really don’t make a difference and that in the greater scheme of things, our lives are for naught. This is why people yearn to leave a legacy, and it is often for this reason that people have children. The historical tendency to value male babies over females is due to the fact that it was (is?) the male who would carry on the family name and legacy. Upon marriage, females were typically absorbed into the family of the husband.

Vayikra: Lasting Impressions

Modern psychological research has shown that infants begin processing information even before they are born, and impressions made on children have an everlasting effect.   It is for this reason that the Mishna in Pirkei Avot (2:11) heaps praise upon the mother of Rav Yehoshua for bringing him to shul as an infant. The Torah itself commands that little children, and even infants, be brought to Jerusalem on certain special occasions; the atmosphere of holiness experienced by these children would stay with them forever.

Subscribe to RSS - korbanot