Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Leviticus: Chapter 16


The veils of concealment
of closeness

The moment in time 
and what follows

[For full chapter, click here
After the various laws creating a correlation between human body and the Dwelling, we return to the death of the "two sons of Aaron". The leitwords are the same: "closeness" (k'r'v), "fire," "face/presence" (lifnei/ pnei).  Yet this is a return that is informed by the laws that followed. Once again, a doubled sacrifice (an echo, perhaps, of the two lost sons?) that holds within it life and death--here, the scapegoat sent "out" deep into the desert. The focus is still  inner and outer spaces (ve-yetze "to go out", "vayavo" "to come") and the liminal space  between them--the "doorway" of the Dwelling becomes the "veil" setting apart the "holy of holies."
 The ritual that allows for the very "coming close" that destroyed the two children of Aaron also distills and encapsulation the laws that introduce it. By clarifying the inner, the outer, and the liminal, it for the first time allows the Dwelling "to dwell with you within your impurity"--a contrast to the previous chapter's deadly  "Let them not die in their impurity, when they make impure my Dwelling which is within them."
We also introduce a motif of time, a counterpoint to the emphasis on space: "any moment (et) he comes to the holy" "send it with a man of the moment (ish eti)"; an intimation of the future, where a different priest will serve "in the place of his father." Time seems to provide the missing link between  the inner and outer spaces]

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