Sunday, March 18, 2007


Shabbos HaChodesh Blogging

The readings this last Shabbos provided an interesting juxtaposition: the details of the finishing touches for the construction of the Tabernacle complex with Ezekiel's vision of the New Jerusalem and the Temple in Messianic days. If it were not Shabbos HaChodesh, we would have read instead of Ezekiel, a reading about Solomon's Temple.

The Jewish tradition contains multiple codes for multiple Temples. It is interesting that, to adapt Koheleth, for every season, there is a reason. For every time, a different code of worship that both connects our worship with the worship of our ancestors but also remains relevant today. Those who would maintain a pseudo-tradition to the exclusion of any innovation (and who oftentimes, in one of the most common of ironies, are exalting as tradition a rather ahistoric innovation) miss this lesson of the multiple codes.

The actual chronology which sacrificial code was operative when is rather controversial. Some would maintain that the Priestly Code of Leviticus is post-exilic and refers to the Second Temple but has been backdated, so to speak, to make it seem more authentic to those who followed it. However, do we really think that the authors of such a code would be so clever as to purposefully make the code different from their practice to make it seem ancient, especially if they were so worried about making their practice seem authentic by forging a supposedly historical code? I would suggest that the Priestly Code does reflect the pre-exilic worship, Ezekiel does reflect not the pre-exilic Priestly Code but the Priestly Code for a Deuteronomic Utopia and that the sacrificial codes in Exodus and elsewhere, like those we read of this last Shabbos reflect an even older substratum of worship.

Religion, like anything else, is an evolutionary thing: we grow not only biologically, but also spiritually. May we soon be blessed to grow into the Utopia presented by Ezekiel.

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