Sunday, September 28, 2014

Numbers: Chapter 8

The spaces between

You and I and Thou

Between the palms of your hands

To be given, 


To be mine, to be yours, to be his

[For full chapter, click here
After the gifts of princes, and the dedication of the altar, we move inwards, literally and figuratively: we speak to the head of Levi, Aaron, the High Priest, and move into the sanctuary to light the Menora. The section of the menora can serve as a symbol for the position of Levi as a whole; "The candles will look to the center (pnei) of the Menora" just as the tribes look inwards towards Levi, who stands before them (pnei) and between them. Just as the Menorah is a single whole (miksha), the set aside Levi nonetheless comes from "within" (be-toch, mi-toch) Israel.
This chapter of consecration repeatedly emphasizes Levi's liminal state as the double "given" (netunim netunim). They come to serve the kohanim, yet here they are unmistakably presented as representatives of Israel. There are the "offering" of Israel (k'r'b) who are brought close (k'r'b). Their symbolic state is emphasized by the fact that Israel "lays their hands" over them, as is done in the case of a literal offering. Levi are the offering, Aaron is the priest, "waving them before God"; Israel are those who bring the offering. "Given to Aaron and his sons from among the children of Israel" Levi is the conduit between inside and outside, the Tent of Meeting and the encampment]

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