The Burnt Offering of the Self

Saturday – The Torah
Leviticus 9:1—10:11

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Here is one of the principal places in the Bible that describes ordination to ministry. Again, the presence of God is described as fire. While consuming the offering of Aaron, the fire elevates it to heaven. On the other hand, the profane offering of Nadab and Abihu is simply reduced to ashes; nothing ascends. Idol worship has contaminated their offering.

You and I are to live immersed in Jesus, one with his offering in the fire of his love on the cross. We are one with him as priest, prophet, and king. Whether or not you are an ordained deacon, priest or elder, you still have a call to ministry placed upon your life. May there be nothing frivolous or contaminated with other “gods” in what you bring—nothing less than the offering of your self in service to the Lord.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
My heart, a burnt offering 9:1ff
The inner tent of meeting 9:23
Holy incense to the Lord 10:1
Discerning clean from unclean 10:10

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2 thoughts on “The Burnt Offering of the Self

  1. A Taste of Torah
    A Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz, director of Israel Programs,
    Hands carry with them the power to curse and the power to bless. One of the most famous uses of hands is found in this week’s parashah, Shemini, as Aaron blesses the people during the inaugural ceremony of the sacrificial cult. We read, “Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them” (Lev 9:22). Subsequently, the Presence of God appears before the people and, clearly, the moment of blessing is
    a powerful one for them. This ritual, known as nesiat kapayim, “the raising of the hands,” is one that continues to the present time, and in Israel remains a daily ritual. How may we better understand the use of hands in the act of blessing?

    Professor Ze’ev Falk explains, “When we bless an individual, one hand is typically placed on the head and when we are talking about a communal or national blessing, both hands are raised toward the people . . . The raising of hands is also mentioned explicitly in the Book of Psalms: ‘Lift your hands toward the sanctuary and bless the Lord’ (Ps. 134:2). . . . The psalmist is calling to every human being to
    lift their hands to the Holy; that is to say that one’s hands should be raised to the Sanctuary and to bless God. In exchange, the individual receives a blessing of God from Zion . . .” (Falk, Divrei Torah Ad Tumam, 253).

    Directionality and reciprocity are key to understanding the notion of raising the hands in blessing. Falk demonstrates the extent to which hands orient us as he quotes from Psalms 134:2. There we see hands directed toward a sacred place. Similarly, by reaching out to bless our fellow humans, our sanctuary, and our God, we become not only the givers of blessing but also the recipients of blessing. May we always have the capacity to raise our hands and to bless others. For in blessing others, we become truly blessed!

    The publication and distribution of A Taste of Torah are made possible by a generous grant from
    Sam and Marilee Susi.



  2. One interpretation of the tragedy of Nadav and Avihu is that they went out on their own, losing connection with the community: “Connectivity—to authority, to one another, and to community—is what allows for the presence and protection of God. When that sense of connection is gone, so goes the Presence.”

    The entire commentary of Rabbi Danielle Upbin is very worthwhile.


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