Sunday, 29 March 2009

Parshah: Leviticus, Sacrifices, and Dialectic

Perhaps one of the more controversial aspects of the Torah is the qarbanot - the sacrificial cult. The Rambam champions a rationalistic approach very in vogue with most moderns. OTOH The Ramban has a multi-level approach that includes a massive dose of spiritual symbolism very popular with Mystics. RSR Hirsch embraced this symbolic approach in his own commentary and modernized it to the sensibilities of the 19th Century. The Ritva defends Rambam from attacks by Ramban. This is most fascinating because Ritva was the key student of Ramban's most famous student. He goes on to show that Ramam was not as "anti-sacrifice" as he appears to be at first glance.

Thus the dialectic is thus:
  • Thesis: Torah/Ramban pro-sacrifice
  • Antithesis: Prophets/Rambam questioning the sacrificial cult
  • Synthesis: Ritva answering Rambam's attacks.
This fascinating overview is culled from the opening article by the late great Nechama Leibowitz OBM On Vayikra/Leviticus. I highly recommend this give and take as she cites original sources. Note: This Ritva is in the further study section.

Zissen Pesach

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