Off topic for a minute….
I spoke on the phone today with a man whose son and grandson from Israel need a place to spend Passover. I offered our table to the son and grandson as well as the father/grandfather. He said that he would probably not want to come as he is an atheist. He was very sweet, but I did not get the connection between his belief in God and spending the evening with us. He said maybe he’d decide to join us. I hope he does.
Bezalel Design would be a great company name for me. Bezalel was the son of Uri son of Hur of the tribe of Judah. He built the first tabernacle. “see, the Lord has singled out by name Bezalel….He has endowed him with a divine spirit of skill, ability, and knowledge in every kind of craft and has inspired him to make designs for work in gold, silver, and copper, to cut stones for setting and to carve wood—to work in every kind of designers craft—and to give directions”. Don’t you think? But if I choose a company name then I need a business account to cash checks and I’m sure there will be some kind of financial penalty for not using my own name. So it’s on the back burner right now. But it’s a great name.
Now seriously, on to Va’Yikra. It’s all about offerings. There are a few types of offerings: just plain old offerings (like maybe when you need something of God?), there’s a peace offering, an offering when you’ve done something wrong, an offering when you don’t speak up, when you touch an unclean thing or “human uncleanness” (I’m a bit afraid to imagine the meaning here….my 11 year old boy could undoubtedly come up with countless examples), when you utter an oath, when you commit a trespass, when you sin by breaking a commandment about things NOT to be done, when you act deceitfully or defraud another or lie. There is lots of burning, spraying about of blood, and delivery of various types of animals and unleavened bread to priests, as well as restitution in the case of stealing or lying to another. It’s all very specific instruction given through Moses to the people. And I’m afraid I find some of it a little suspect.
When I was in college a friend and I started a ski club. We made people pay dues and we organized cabins that they could use in Tahoe. We spent their dues paying for the cabins and for caretakers. And luckily we were quite honest. We wrote our own club bylaws. In the bylaws we wrote that because we were club founders, we had lifetime rights to membership and could use the cabins at member rates forever. We could write whatever we wanted into our bylaws. We could have said that the God of snow had told us that we should be able to ski for free forever. Once the bylaws are written down, they become a sort of code to live by. Like the Constitution. I guess that’s why college students don’t write things like bibles and constitutions. They cannot be trusted to see the greater good.
Moses brought God’s word to the people. Many of the offerings include extras for the priests (Moses’ brother Aaron and his progeny). And I suppose since the priests were the lawmakers of the day, they might have been too busy settling squabbles to go out and earn a living. So maybe the extras (bread, grain, animals) were necessary sustenance for the priests. Maybe it’s not so suspect after all. Perhaps if Moses had come down and said that God said that people had to give over all of their wealth to him and his family, then that would have been suspect.
So I take back all of my suspicion. Whether God said it, or Moses said it, it was certainly said by someone with the wisdom to make good choices, not by a college student looking out for herself above all.