The Torah Sacrifice to Demons

In “Sacrifice and the Weaning of the Primitive Jew,” I discussed two contrasting Jewish views of sacrifice. There is an embarrassment of Jewish views on the meaning of the Temple sacrifices. They all seem to be on a different literal page (of Torah). As long as there exists different levels of meaning – the “revealed” meaning (the grammatical historical meaning), the “allusional meaning” and the “secret” meaning (sod) – Jewish interpreters of the Torah, in their belief that God has ordained these three levels, can find themselves in more than deep water. How deep – and hot –  is what I want to talk about here.

Baruch Levine[1] writes:

“expiation addressed itself to the presence of impurity, the actualized form of evil forces operative in the human environment. This was the function of expiation as a phenomenon. It was not so much that Yahweh had to be appeased for the offenses committed. To the extent that this was the case, such mollification took the form of sacrifice, itself. The accompanying expiation through blood, as distinct from the sacrificial gift, itself, became necessary because Yahweh demanded that the forces of impurity, unleashed by the offenses committed, be kept away from his immediate environment” (p.62).

YHVH was wrathful, says Levine, not so much for being disobeyed, but mainly “for his own protection.”

How, asks Levine, does YHVH protect himself? Through the blood “offered to the demonic forces who accept it in lieu of God’s “life,” so to speak, and depart, just as they accept it in lieu of human life in other cultic contexts” (P.62).

So, the Holy One of Israel is relegated to the level of a whimpering Baal worshiper propitiating the demons through animal (and human?) sacrifice.

“What advantage then hath the Jew? …Much in every way: chiefly, because unto him were committed the utterances (logion λόγιον) of God” (Romans 3:2)

In Levine’s case, this cannot be  true. Where does he get these allusions from? Not from the words on the page; not even from the allusions bouncing off the page. From the secret unwritten knowledge (sod)? Levine plunges the VAV o f Torah into the belly of demons. What does Levine discover in the entrails of Torah? The BLACK kABBAlah of demons!

תורה

 


[1] Baruch A. Levine. 1974. In the presence of the Lord: a study of cult and some cultic terms in Ancient Israel. Leiden: E.J. Brill, pp. 65 – 66. Baruch Levine is the Professor Emeritus of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University

 

The DNA in Kabbalah

In Raphy’s bogology, I discussed Michael Wyshogrod’s “The Body of Faith”, where he states that converts to Judaism undergo some kind of quasi-biological change.

Now, say a Jew wants to study Kabbalah. No problem; as someone said, “The Jew is the only one who can understand these things (Kabbalah) because his soul is different to that of other humans.”

But, say you’re not Jewish, that’s no obstacle; you can become Jewish. As the same someone said, “everybody who wants to can convert to Judaism and start learning the Revealed Torah.” But, “only after a person has reached a high level in observance, age and piety can these secrets (of Kabbalah) be transmitted to a person.”

There is firstly, the “revealed” Torah, secondly, the “alluded meanings” of Torah (remesh) and, thirdly, the “secret” Torah (the sod). The “revealed” Torah is what you see on the page; the allusions and secret meanings – Kabbalah – is what you see through the page.

So, now you’ve converted to Judaism and got your new set of DNA. There’s, however, still a long way to go before you can get your beaver teeth into Kabbalah: 40 years of Torah study.

Now, consider someone like me who has Jewish DNA and (but?) later becomes a Christian. If Hashem can change goyishe DNA into Yiddishe DNA, then why (Wyshogrod would probably wish) can’t Hashem pull – at the moment of my Christian conversion – my Jewish genes and replace them with a clutch of goyishe genes. If the miracle can work one way – a good way; goyishe to Jewish, it should – to be fair – work in reverse; Jewishe to goyish.

But say, by some miracle, my Jewish genes have not forsaken me; it’s still too late for me, because I haven’t got another 40 years to study Torah; never mind an extra 20 years to grow in piety. But it’s not too late for my quarter-Jewish grandson, who has just turned four.

4 years old + 40 for Torah + 20 for piety = 64. A good age for a quarterle-Jewish boy to begin Kabbalah.

 

 

 

In Raphy’s bogology, I discussed Michael Wyshogrod’s “The Body of Faith”, where he states that converts to Judaism undergo some kind of quasi-biological change.

 

Now, say a Jew wants to study Kabbalah. No problem; as someone said, “The Jew is the only one who can understand these things (Kabbalah) because his soul is different to that of other humans.”

But, say you’re not Jewish, that’s ok, because, “everybody who wants to can convert to Judaism and start learning the Revealed Torah.” But, “only after a person has reached a high level in observance, age and piety can these secrets (of Kabbalah) be transmitted to a person.”

 

There is firstly, the “revealed” Torah, secondly, the “alluded meanings” of Torah (remesh) and, thirdly, the “secret” Torah (the sod). The “revealed” Torah is what you see on the page; the allusions and secret meanings – Kabbalah – is what you see through the page.

 

So, now you’ve converted to Judaism and got your new set of DNA. There’s, however, still a long way to go before you can get your eager teeth into Kabbalah: 40 years of Torah study.

 

Now, consider someone like me who has Jewish DNA and (but?) later becomes a Christian. If Hashem can change goyishe DNA into Yiddishe DNA, then why (Wyshogrod would probably wish) can’t Hashem pull out – at the moment of my Christian conversion – my Jewish genes and replace them with a bunch of goyish genes. If the miracle can work one way – a good way; goyish to Jewish, it should work in reverse; Jewish to goyish.

 

It’s too late for me, though, because I haven’t got another 40 years to study Torah; never mind an extra 20 years to grow in piety. But it’s not too late for my quarter-Jewish grandson, who has just turned four.

 

4 years old + 40 for Torah + 20 for piety = 64. A good age for a quarter-Jewish boy to begin Kabbalah .

 

 

Jesus the sacrificial lamb: Wrap that round your tefillin.

In my “Why did the Righteous suffer?”, Barry Lyle made the following comment about the sacrifices in the Torah: “I have often wondered deep in my “secret place” whether the Ancient Middle East idea of Sacrifice wasn’t a wee bit primitive!”

I replied:

THAT is something that generally sticks in the craw. Richard Dawkins in his “The God delusion” makes a banquet of it. All that blood and gore – Yech. Surely not something that a pure, holy, spiritual, loving, blah blah blah god would do. But when this god also does it to human beings, and his own son. I’m outta here. Hurry Krishna!

As I said in my post: blood, blood, millions of litres of blood and buckets of gore. Why, why, why? Because God didn’t only want to paint a picture, and paint it red, He wanted to come out of the picture Himself and show why rivers of animal blood were  necessary. He didn’t have to do it. He wanted to come into the world to become one of those sacrifical lambs Himself. It’s impossible – especially for  a Torah Jew – to wrap THAT round his tefillin. But as Jesus said “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

When Jesus told his disciples – the Gospels record several occasions; who knows how many times more? – that He was going to suffer, spill his blood, and be “lifted up,” His words went in one obtuse ear and out the other. Who can take it in? Only when we really take it in – when God opens our eyes – do we get a glimpse into that beaten to death verse: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that those who believe in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:16). “Gave” his son; so commonplace a word.

“Before the mountains were brought forth – or the earth and world were formed, from everlasting Jesus Christ was, like the Father, very God. From the beginning He was foreordained to be the Savior of sinners. He was always the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, without whose blood there could be no remission. The same Jesus, to whom alone we may look for salvation, that same Jesus was the only hope of Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and all the patriarchs; what we are privileged to see distinctly they doubtless saw indistinctly – but the Savior both we and they rest upon is one. It was Christ Jesus who was foretold in all the prophets, and foreshadowed and represented in all the law – the daily sacrifice of the lamb, the cities of refuge, the brazen serpent, all these were so many emblems to Israel of that Redeemer who was yet to come, and without whom no man could be saved. There never was but one road to heaven: Jesus Christ was the way, the truth and the life yesterday as well as today.”

J.C. Ryle