Monday, February 3, 2014


Exodus 27:20−30:10 

Eric Mendelsohn for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities

This portion is so anti-intellectual and has so little in of interest even to the traditional community, that rabbis have commented that "it is one of the very few in which Moses is not mentioned". What it
consists of is the ordination of Aaron and his descendants as priests and vast descriptions of the vestments that the priest should wear and the law of the half-shekel temple tax. This segment was probably rewritten in King Josiah's time, and again during the exile, and again upon the return to conform to what the priests were wearing at that time. Nothing in this parasha survived the destruction of the Temple in Judaism, even in traditional Judaism. It is important in Christian
Catholic and Orthodox tradition as the vestments of the bishops and the idea that bishops can ordain priests are implicit. As far as I know Apple computer has not announced a device which will allow users to connect to God via the internet for the expiation of sin and called it the E-phod. Jews have chosen to dress the Torah in a mimicry of the priestly vestments.

So two questions arise:

1) What about this process called ordination.

2) How can we revalue the ancient traditions concerning the priesthood

The answer to the first is found and justified in the next parasha where the Talmud concludes one cannot appoint a rabbi without consulting the congregation.

The second question requires to know exactly what rituals the priests had which survived the second temple and how can we revalue them.

Of all the priestly duties only two have survived the destruction of the temple:

The priestly blessing which we have dealt with well and creatively and is leading edge in that others are adopting our customs and the "redeeming of the first born" pidyan haben which I propose we can deal with creatively.

The priestly blessing was transferred to the home as the parental blessing. In the synagogue there are variations. This ceremony is traditionally performed daily in Israel (except in Galilee), and among
most Sephardi Jews worldwide, during the repetition of the Shacharit Amidah. On Sabbath and festivals it is also recited during the repetition of the Musaf prayer. On Yom Kippur the ceremony is
performed during the Neilah service as well. On other fast days it is performed at Mincha, if said in the late afternoon.

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