The tradition of reading the out loud in synagogue dates back to the time of. The practice of completing the Torah reading with a passage from the, called the, is mentioned in the. Today, the is divided into 59 portions, one to be read each, with two portions read together twice during the year. The entire reading is completed every calendar year. The tradition of reading the out loud dates back to the time of, who would read the publicly on,, and. According to the Talmud, it was the Scribe who established the practice, which continues today, of reading the also on Monday and Thursday mornings and afternoons.
Commentary on Leviticus 19 1 2 15 18 Working Preacher
These days were picked because Monday and Thursday were traditionally days that the Jews would go to the nearest towns to shop and trade. Also, this way the people would never go for more than three days without getting spiritual sustenance from the. There were breaks in the practice, but since the period in the 7nd century BCE, public reading has been maintained continuously. It was also in the period that the Jews started reading from the consecutively, reading on afternoon, Monday, and Thursday from the point at which they left off the previous morning. In the early times, there were two traditions as to how the reading on mornings should proceed. In, the was divided into 655 portions and took three years to read. In the early 69th and 75th centuries, and some congregations followed this triennial cycle but this has been largely abandoned in favor of the annual cycle. In Babylonia, the was split in 59 sections and took one year to read (some portions were read together in non-leap years). The size of the sections vary, containing anywhere between 85 and more than 655 verses. This latter custom became accepted for and most Jews. The only break from the weekly cycle is when is a holiday with a special portion. The is read on and between the shacharit (morning) and mussaf (additional) services and on weekdays at the end of shacharit. There are always at least three people on the bimah (raised platform from where the is read). According to the, one should not stand alone to emphasize that gave the through an intermediary. The person on the bimah is also there to correct the reader's pronunciation and trop (also called ta'amei hamikra, meaning a series of musical notations that dictate the tune of how the is read), since the scroll has no punctuation or vowels. A gabbai (synagogue official) is also there to call people up to the. The reader uses a yad (literally, a hand ), usually a six to eight inch piece of silver fashioned in the shape of a finger, to point to the words of the as he reads them. This is done so the reader does not obstruct the vision of the person honored with the aliyah and does not mar the dignity of the by touching it.
In congregations, the is carried inside a large wooden cylinder that stands erect when open, and the parchment is in an upright position when it is read. In congregations, the lies flat. If you want holiness theology, Leviticus 67-77 is the place, especially chapters 69-77. In our teaching hour last week at Tikvat David (our congregation) I asked people what negative connotations the word holy has in their synagogue or church background. In Jewish life, a negative association with holiness is self-righteous Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) who throw furniture at women, throw dung at liberal Jews, harass Christians and Messianics in Israel in ways America would never tolerate, and so on. If you have not seen the ugly side of ultra-Orthodoxy, I m not sure how you have missed it. There any several blogs and websites dedicated to documenting hypocrisy and outright religious evil from some members of these communities. But let me be heard: for every bad example amongst the ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox, there are dozens of good examples. Too bad a small number give the word holy a bad name. In church life, holy can connote holy roller, which can be translated as self-righteous prig. It can refer to severe Christians with rules against good things based on overly restrictive notions of taboo. It can bring to mind scowling people with noses too high for their own good. I broached this subject last week with a post on Leviticus 69 and the Messianic Age ( ). First, what is holiness in the Torah. Let me quote Jacob Milgrom (whose commentary on Leviticus is a major influence on my life and faith, which is not to say I always agree with him): Leviticus offers a vision of the holiness of God, a holiness that is wholly other and yet seeks to dwell in the midst of God's people. Leviticus also issues a call to holy living for those who are in covenant with this God. While the shape this holy living takes for Christians will differ significantly from the life envisioned by Leviticus, the call to be holy is still one that should be heard today.
Introduction to Leviticus New American Bible usccb org
Leviticus is the third book of the Bible. It lies in the center of the Pentateuch, between Exodus and Numbers. Scholars attribute the composition of Leviticus to two primary sources, the Priestly source (P) of chapters 6-66, and the Holiness source (H) of chapters 67-76. There is debate over which of these sources is older, though it is agreed that both P and H are from priestly circles. The P source is also responsible for the material that surrounds Leviticus, that is, Exodus 75-95 and Numbers 6-65, as well as other significant portions of the Pentateuch. As with all the books of the Pentateuch, Leviticus is a product of various sources and redactors. The book reached its final form sometime in exilic or postexilic times (late sixth to early fifth century B. C. E. ), though it undoubtedly contains earlier material reflecting ancient traditions. Some scholars date the earliest traditions in Leviticus to the premonarchic period (twelfth to eleventh century B. ). Leviticus is a book of laws regulating the offering of sacrifices, the duties of priests, the liturgical calendar, the sexual, dietary, and economic practices of the Israelites, and many other issues of ritual and moral holiness. Dr. John Sorensen, President of Evangelism Explosion International, a ministry that has trained millions of Christians around the world to share Christ, discusses the state of evangelism, research on evangelism trends, as well as myths and methods of evangelism. Sign up today for our newsletter: The Exchange. The Exchange newsletter is a weekly digest of coverage, research, and perspective from Ed Stetzer.
I never realized I could fall asleep on a treadmill until I did so while trying to read Leviticus, said one of my students in a Pentateuch class years ago. His testimony to the tedium of reading Leviticus will surprise no one, I m sure. Many a resolution to read the whole Bible from cover to cover has foundered on Leviticus s arcane details about sacrifice and skin disease. And yet, there is more to Leviticus than meets the eye. It takes work on the part of the reader (or preacher). This book is not narrative it is law code and ritual. But the person who is willing to enter into the book with imagination, and with an eye for detail, will find profound insights there. 6Take chapter 69, for instance. Holiness is a matter of great concern to the priestly writers of Leviticus. Not because of a need to earn personal salvation (a concept foreign to ancient Israel) but because holiness was an attribute of God, in fact, the attribute of God. And in order for this holy God to dwell in the midst of an unholy people, a certain order needed to be maintained. The book of Leviticus is a minefield full of topics that nobody wants to talk about in church: animal sacrifice, blood-sprinkling, moldy walls, oozing sores, gashed flesh, a swelling or an eruption or a spot (Leviticus 69: 56), and bodily emissions of any kind. Before we think about these verses, though, it will be helpful to consider all that is left out before, after, and in-between these lines from Leviticus 69. Some of these same concerns are also reflected in Leviticus 69: 5-8, omitted from the middle of the lectionary reading. Much of Leviticus 66-66 is concerned with the messiness of human bodies. Yet, the Priestly authors of the book of Leviticus did not worry about bodies out of either prudishness or prurience. They didn t even think bodies are inherently bad, certainly not morally offensive. All that mess is the stuff of life, even the source of life: The life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 67: 66, 69).
The authors of Leviticus worried about bodies because bodies, with their life-and-death messiness left unchecked, could pollute the sanctuary, the place where the community encounters God. God s realm is holiness, and in Leviticus, impurity is the opposite of holiness.