Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 29

Fill the hollows 

With the hallowed



A contagious indwelling

Reaching out

[For full chapter, click here
From the creation of the consecrating clothing, to their activation. The clothing is placed on Aaron and his sons, creating a “everlasting ministry (kahuna).” From an action “to minister” (le-kahen) we have moved into an existential state.  
The key word of the chapter is “fulfillment” “filling”—Milui/miluim. The consecration is defined by “filling the hands” (le-maleh et yadam), and happens when the bread is placed “on the palms” of Aaron and his sons. The seven day ceremony (again, a play on the definitive Sabbath) is Miluim, the filling; the sacrifices are the ayil miluim—the “ram of  fulfillment”. The existential emptiness—is God amongst us or nothingness, the hollow at the center of the altar, is at last being filled.
The “fulfillment” is accompanied by a focus on atonement, which also is a seven day process. The creation of holiness is fraught with danger of missteps.
Yet it ends with completion. From the liminal “gate” to the tent of meeting, the sacred space spreads “outside.” Holiness becomes contagious. Anything that touches the altar becomes “hallowed.” The chapter closes with a tripartite hallowedness, of Israel, of the altar, or the kohanim. God will “dwell within the Children of Israel and be their God.” We return to the opening words at Sinai, as Israel for the first time truly “knows that I am their God who took them out of Egypt.” ]

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