Life on the Margins (Tazria, Leviticus 12:1-13:59)

By Rabbi Niles Elliot GoldsteinWhat does it feel like to live at the edge, on the margins of community?The Torah reading for this week, Tazria, seems to imply that it can be a very lonely experience. When someone from the Israelite community is found to have leprosy (“tzaraat”), a disease of the skin, that person is removed from camp and separated from the others (Lev. 13:46). While their physical affliction is not their choice, the social consequences of their condition are severe. Tho … [Read more...]

Situating God: Revisiting Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26)

By Dr. Erica BrownOpening the new biblical book Vayikra, Leviticus, likewise opens a new chapter in the lives of the Israelites. Their relationship with God would be expressed through the performance of set rituals in a physical structure. No doubt such changes also brought transformations in their spiritual lives and reoriented the way in which they approached the divine. Unmediated and direct conversation with God became formalized and more distant. Gershom Scholem (1897-1982) in “Major T … [Read more...]