Saturday, December 10, 2011

Narrow places, the world, and Rumi

Here’s an interesting excerpt from Jalal u’din Rumi’s Mathnawi (Mesnavi), Nicholson translation, beginning of Book 3. While I might argue with Jally concerning his utter disdain, if not revulsion, for this world, this is a great analogy to open into his visions and open our eyes.

If anyone were to say to the embryo in the womb,
“Outside is a world exceedingly well-ordered,
A pleasant earth, broad and long,
Wherein are a hundred delights
And so many things to eat.
Mountains and seas and plains,
Fragrant orchards, gardens and sown fields.
A sky very lofty and full of light,
Sun and moonbeams and a hundred stars.
From the south-wind
And from the north-wind
And from the west-wind
The gardens have wedding-feasts and banquets.
Its marvels are beyond description:
Why art thou in tribulation in this darkness?
(Why) dost thou drink blood
On the gibbet of this narrow place (the womb)
In the midst of confinement and filth and pain?”

The embryo, in virtue of its present state,
Would be incredulous, and would turn away
From this message and would disbelieve it,
Saying, “This is absurd and is a deceit and delusion,”
Because the judgement of the blind has no imagination....

Just as in this world the elevated speak of that world
To the common folk, saying,
“This world is an exceedingly dark and narrow pit;
Outside is a world without scent or color.”
Naught entered into the ear of a single one of them
For desire is a barrier, huge and stout...
Debarred... it (the embryo) knows no breakfast but blood.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Atternen Jew, a fragment

I haven't been posting much poetry lately because, sadly, if I post it here, most poetry journals consider it "published" and won't accept it as a submission. I consider that kind of policy objectionable and archaic, since, except for the very few, and I do mean VERY few widely read personal poetry blogs (that's an oxymoron, eh?), being published in a peer-reviewed journal is a completely different thing than posting to a personal blog. For all you journal editors reading this post, you need to change your policies today!

Ecchh (to quote Gurdjieff).

Anyway, here's an excerpt from something I'm editing right now, both in stevespell and below that, in normspell!!
The setting is 70 CE, Jerusalem is burning, and our hero is trapped by the Roman siege.

So thaer I wer, a messij a the Lor
Fleeyen frum the bernen Howzez a God.
Like Addom, az he stumbel thru the gaets ov Aden
Benum with exxess ov pannek an reproech;

Not aenjelz but annammel hedded men
Garden the gaets bak tu my Aden.

I heerz that the saje Zakkiy eskapen,
Hid in a koffen. That touk a plan.
Me, in the frenzeeyen aro an flame,
I goez tu leep frum a parappet,
A killen mysellz an dun with it.
An thaer! a bernen seej towwer.
I thro myselv intu the krumblen hulk,
Kliem down its ladderz an leep az it kollaps.
I muss hav loukt like a flamen demen
Flyen owt ov a piller a fiyer.
Soeljerz skatter. Sinjd an soutee
Az a blaksmiths help, I stumbel an tumbel
Down the skorcht Jerrusallem hilz.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So there I were, a messenger of the Lord
Fleeing from the burning House of God.
Like Adam, as he stumbled thru the gates of Eden
Benumbed with excess of panic and reproach.

Not angels but animal headed men
Guarding the gates back to my Eden.

I heard that the sage Zakkai escaped,
Hid in a coffin. That took a plan.
Me, in the frenzy of arrow and flame,
I goes to leap from a parapet,
To kill myself and done with it.
And there! a burning siege tower.
I throw myself into the crumbling hulk,
Climb down its ladders and leap as it collapses.
I must have looked like a flaming demon
Flying out of a pillar a fire.
Soldiers scatter. Singed and sooty
As a blacksmiths helper, I stumble and tumble
Down the scorched Jerusalem hills.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jacob on the road

Reading Zohar, Vayekhee 423

... Rav Yehuda said, “... Also, each of us is worthy that the Shekhinah will not depart from us.”...Rav Yosi said, “We have learned that a man should not rely on a miracle...” It is written that Ya’akov said, “If God will be with me,” referring to the union with the Shekhinah, “and will keep me in this way...”

I have always feared that I am alone.
Looking back, always at my side, You were there.
I am awlway feerz, I will be abbandon.
Loukeengz bak, side tu side, Yu ar thaer.

Last nite in the Hevvenlee Akkaddammee
I see, an the jujmenz ov this werl
Hav no vallewz. Thay ar shaddoez an illuezhen.
When I re-enter my Addomz
The shaddo taken solid form,
Illuezhen fule the empteeness a thot.
My eyes and my feelz, thay konvins me
The jujmenz ov this werlen
Ar the truth and the Werd.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

My writing career, briefly

My writing career spans forty years. From one perspective I am developing a Jewish and kabbalistic vision of the world, the mind, and the soul. From another perspective, I am composing long narrative poems that explore the clash between the real and the ideal, in the lives of historical figures and people I have known. From yet a third perspective, I am developing a new, more versatile language in which the complexity and multi-dimensionality of quantum mechanics is carved into the lens of language itself.

Or let me put it this way: I have spent the last 40 years writing poetry that re-visions and re-models not just the world we live in, but the language with which we see, describe, and understand that world. In the process I have created a new grammar to represent the fundamental indeterminacies at the horizons of thought. This has been a slow process requiring much persistence, not only because of its own inherent difficulties, but because of the difficulties it creates for readers, who have a challenging enough job deciphering the experiments and non-linearities of modern and post-modern writing. The result, though a challenge to many readers, allows my work to achieve layered and faceted perspectives that a traditional use of language inherently prohibits.

It seems that I am almost alone in spearheading the development of a language that can reflect and express the nature of quantum mechanics, both in physics and in consciousness. But I am not entirely alone. In 1980 David Bohm, the renowned physicist, published his last book, Wholeness and the Implicate Order. It is about the need to develop a new language in response to quantum mechanics! In 1980 I was already six years into my project to recreate English.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Contra Eliot and Pound, 2

On August 15, 2008 I posted a response to some comments related to my poem Europa, Europa. I entitled that response "Contra Eliot and Pound", in which I condemned both authors, but especially Eliot for their anti-Semitism.  That article can be found at:

Of the many things I didn't mention in that article was the poem by Emanuel Litvinoff, To T. S. Eliot, in which he takes Eliot to task for his anti-Semitism. Litvinoff died in early October of this year, and the New York Times published an article, eulogizing him. However, the article primarily focused on his poem To T. S. Eliot, and his criticism of Eliot. Here's a link to the article, and following the link, a few noteworthy excerpts from it:

The article begins:
Emanuel Litvinoff, an English-born Jewish poet known for his scathing verse indictment of T. S. Eliot’s anti-Semitism — and for reading it before an audience that happened to include Eliot — died on Sept. 24 at his home in London. He was 96. ...

But it was for his poem “To T. S. Eliot” that he was best remembered. Written after World War II and widely anthologized, it was a response to work by Eliot that contained unapologetic anti-Semitic elements. One such poem, “Burbank With a Baedeker: Bleistein With a Cigar,”...

This poem (Burbank ...) was first published in 1920. Before World War II, Mr. Litvinoff, who otherwise admired Eliot’s work, was prepared to dismiss it as simply another link in the venerable chain of British literary anti-Semitism.
Eliot chose to reprint the poem in his anthology “Selected Poems,” published in 1948. That, in the post-Holocaust world, struck Mr. Litvinoff as inexcusable. ...

In early 1951, Mr. Litvinoff was invited to take part in an illustrious public poetry reading at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. He brought the poem with him.
He had no idea, though, that just before he began reading it aloud, its subject would walk through the door. ...
By the time it was Mr. Litvinoff’s turn to read, he said afterward, he was keenly aware that the target of the corrosive lines he was about to utter was sitting in the audience. ...

When Mr. Litvinoff finished, as was widely reported, pandemonium ensued. The poet Stephen Spender stood up and denounced him for insulting Eliot, prompting others in the crowd to cry “Hear, hear” in assent. [And here I denounce Stephen Spender -- smb]
There was, however, a dissenting voice. Amid the tumult, a man in the back of the room was heard to mutter: “It’s a good poem. It’s a very good poem.”
The speaker was Thomas Stearns Eliot.

More on that public reading can be found by clicking the links in the excerpts above, at least one of which will take you here:

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Frederick Turner's "Let Be"

If you don’t know of the brilliant poetry and philosophy of Frederick Turner, let me say a brief word here. He is author of, among many books, two stunning epic poems, The New World, and Genesis, and a philosophical/theological tour de force, Natural Religion. He is one of the great thinkers of our age, and after the dour and accusing voices of Eliot and Pound have long since been washed away, Turner’s visionary work will continue to stand as a towering beacon of knowledge and light.

His blog is: http://frederickturnerpoet.com/

While I seem to default to philosophizing with a hammer (to steal a beautiful image) Fred enlightens with delicate veils moved and removed. For example:

Let Be

Weeding, I disturb a bee
That is bumbling in the sages,
But she has forgiven me,
Goes off to the saxifrages.

There I will just let her be,
And, since bee-ing is her being,
She will go on being free,
She-ing while I go on me-ing.

“Let it be” was how the king
In that strange old myth or story
Gave the bee its sweet and sting,
Set the heavens in their glory:

Was it permit or command?
Do we own, or was he letting,
Are we in or out of hand?
Was he making or just betting?

So he gave himself away,
Changed from he-ing into she-ing,
Where his “shall” became her “may”,
Time born out of unforeseeing.

If I weed around the sage,
Letting it achieve its flower,
Do I make a kind of cage?
Do I claim a godlike power?

But the weeds are weeding me,
Cells that are, in acting, dying;
Sage-flowers fertilize the bee,
Every selling is a buying.

So creation is a cross,
“Let” and “be” in intersection,
Where the gain is in the loss,
And the death’s the resurrection.

© Frederick Turner; posted here with permission by the author

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Aternen Jew: reading 2 video, redone

On Sept 5 I posted my latest video montage of me reading from my poem The Atternen Jewz Talen. In this post I am embedding a revised version of the video, in which I used more professional video editing software to sharpen and clean up the effects.

About the video:
The visual component of the video is composed of classic art (which I have manipulated) to represent the story. It seems the use of historic art to tell, or retell a story, has rarely been done. Odd, eh? Jon Avnet, in The Uprising uses some important historical photos of the Warsaw Ghetto to construct some scenes. I'm sure other films have done the same, but I'm not privy. And then there's my favorite Simpsons episode, which integrates some impressionist paintings into Bart's deportation to France. Can you think of any other examples?

Here's the new version of The Atternen Jewz Talen, Reading 2, Take 2.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Is it possible? Turkey is moving towards war with Israel.

Yes, it is possible!! The gears are already in motion, and the Turkish government has made statements (especially concerning warships to Gaza) that will make Erdogan and his party look cowardly or foolish if they back down.

I sent the following letter to my former senator and representative (since we, of DC, are unrepresented in Congress):

I am writing to you, hoping you are already taking serious and comprehensive action to counter the rogue behavior that Turkey is pursuing vis a vis Israel. Some of the obvious markers of that behavior are:
1. Erdogan has aligned his nation with a terrorist organization, Hamas.
2. He has broken full relations with Israel.
3. He has publicly declared that he will send Turkish warships to confront the Israeli blockade of Gaza, in the guise of accompanying "aid" ships.
4. He is meeting with Egyptian officials, as Egypt itself is driven by public and internal government pressure towards conflict with Israel. The likely intent of Erdogan's meeting is for the sake of creating an axis of aggression against Israel from north and south, and likely, with full Iranian and Syrian support.

We must not look on in disbelief or dismay as Erdogan actively moves towards war with Israel. He must be countered by forceful and unambiguous American and NATO pressure. Steps need to be taken immediately, and not merely cautionary pronouncements. We must begin plans to strip Turkey of its place in NATO and replace it with viable alternatives; solicit the help of the Turkish military, whose authority will be greatly diminished by downgrading Turkey in NATO; begin publicly arranging sanctions on trade against Turkey; move Europe forward on closing the door to Turkey's membership in the European Union; and expose the Turkish public to the severe and irresponsible consequences of their government's policies, urging them to exert public pressure to turn those policies around. Naturally, as a Congressperson you are aware of other, and likely better steps the US can and must take to turn Turkey from a path that, if not countered forcefully, may well lead to war with Israel.

I am counting on you to act with prescience and authority to respond to this rogue direction Turkish policy has taken. In my eyes, this is the most serious foreign policy issue the US and Israel face.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Eternal Jew's Tale, Part 2, complete

On August 3 I uploaded a preliminary version of Reading 2 of The Atternen Jewz Talen (The Eternal Jew's Tael). That upload was just the soundtrack and a single slide/image. This is the completed video, composed of 90 stills, and is 3 minutes and 7 seconds long.

The setting is Jerusalem, 33 CE. The Atternen Jew describes his meeting with a local revolutionary.

Your feedback is welcome and desired.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Atternen Jew: reading 2, preliminary

This is a preliminary version of the second reading from The Atternen Jewz Taelen, without visual accompaniment. I'm not sure about the music underlays, and will build another version tomorrow. May also change the accent of the voice.

Your critical feedback, as ever, is desired, appreciated, and of great value to me.

video

Monday, August 01, 2011

Columbia River Gorge

Recently back from the Columbia River Gorge on the border between Washington and Oregon. Ten years since we lived in the Northwest, but such beautiful, familiar, comforting scenes: mist, fog, she-rain, fir trees against fast scudding gray clouds. Yes, I know those impressions. They feel like home!

I, who have many homes and states of homelessness.


















Along the road, abundance:


Our cabin at Sandhill Cottages, Carson. And I DO mean funky!














Nature preserve:


Osprey nest:


















Me and the guys, upriver, when the day was still young and the earth was young:


And finally, ya never know who you might run acrosst. These are some guys we met at the Interpretive Center.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Berlin Montage

A month of many travels.

Here are a few photos of Berlin. For me, a city emerging from genocide and self-immolation. Kind of like a country that went on a suicide bombing mission; the families on both sides are left to deal with the horror and evil of it all. Now, many signs of rebirth.

We rented a flat in East Berlin. A great building dating back to the 1890's, with large rooms and 12 foot high ceilings with massive, ornate, plaster crown mouldings. As you can see from the pictures, a neighborhood full of young, exuberant people. HA! Ghetto? Looks it, but I'd live there. Lots of clubs, coffee houses, street theater, arts and crafts coops/production shops, Turkish food stalls, Euro pizza, and, by coincidence, one of the centers of Berlin's extinguished Jewish life.



The Schoenhauser Allee Jewish graveyard was a 10 to 15 minute walk away, north and east. The graveyard is surrounded by a high wall. We arrived after 4pm and the gate was locked. The only way I could see inside was thru a small hole broken thru the concrete and brick wall:


The next day we returned, thanks to Nancy's insistence. No surprise, the cemetery was extensively desecrated during the war. This is one image of what we found:


We walked around the many acres of solemn quietude for about an hour. Perhaps once again these souls are finding peace here.

Nearby, the Rykestrasse Shul, entrance gate locked, and guarded by a policeman. And yet Jews are returning to the city, mostly from the former Soviet Union. Here we looked thru the gate to the shul across an enclosed courtyard.


I did not realize what remarkable museums and collections could be found in Berlin. As I mentioned in a Facebook post, it ranks with London, Paris, and New York, arguably the 4 greatest museum cities in the world. Some of the collections we visited: ancient Near East, Islamic, South and Southeast Asian, African, and a range of European arts and crafts. Just one detail from all this: a remarkable book from SE Asia, about 3 feet long:


And this detail from it:



 So much more, but that will have to do for a taste. Tomorrow, the Columbia River gorge.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Drash on Khukkat

I was so busy last week making my Aternen Jew video, I forgot to post this drash (analysis) I wrote for Parasha Khukkat, 2005 (Numbers/Viyekra 19:1 to 22:1).

Drash: Khukkat, 5765, July 9, 2005 

Today's sidrah has an unbelievable number of huge issues in it, many absolutely inexplicable.  Most obviously: 

1) the Parah Adumah (the red heifer) and the whole issue of the transmission of tumah, whatever "tumah" is; 
2) The death of Miriam, which is accompanied by a midrash so embedded and taken for granted, that one can hardly talk about Miriam without talking about water and particularly, a well that follows her like some kind of puppy. 
3) The death of Aaron, a death laid out like a sacrificial ritual. The "ritual" includes the stripping of Aaron of his vestments, an event which in the modern sensibility generates emotions in the key of revulsion, but which, I might add, could also be seen as the foundational definition of a living will. 
4) There's the punishment of Moses and Aaron which stands as a permanent challenge to those who insist the Torah (aka God) would never impose a punishment inappropriate to the crime.  
5) This sidrah contains the mapping of the vast majority of moves the people made while in the wilderness.  This is not mysterious, true, but it is embedded in an entirely fragmented and non-sequential narrative, which troubles not a few commentators.  And finally, it contains 
6) the military encounters with Sichon and Og, whom the midrash elevate to the status of giants.

That's quite a lineup of topics, all of which I am going pass over. I would like, instead, to look at 3 minor details and show how they provide a gorgeous little opening into the writing, editing, and literary history of this Book, a Book that for most of its existence has been forbidden to be viewed thru a literary lens.
Let me begin with what is far, and try to bring it near.   Shemot Rabbah 5:22 explains that the Hebrew slaves had in their possession various scrolls, relating the incidents of the book of Bereishit (Genesis), which they would enjoy reading during their rest every Shabbat.  So here is the midrash talking about early documents, written before Moses was born, telling the stories that Moses (et al) would eventually incorporate into this Divine and human collaboration we call Torah.
For me, this is the key to understanding how the Bible was written, and particularly these first 5 books. Like any major interdisciplinary text, I believe it was composed using multiple sources, over an extended period of time.  This was not the result of some Ginsbergian 3 day binge.  I imagine that Moses worked 40 years to put together a first comprehensive draft.  But what does this have to do with our sidrah this week?
Khukkat is one of the few parshiot that provides tangible and clear references to Torah source texts.  We're not talking about genealogical lists, or narrative subplots, or architecture plans, or ritual prescriptions, etc, etc.  Every sidrah has this kind of thing in abundance embedded in the text.  But in Khukkat we have more.  First we have, in 21:14 what I believe is the only reference in Torah to a named external text: "Therefore the Book of the Wars of the Lord speaks of..." and Torah quotes this book for at least a verse and a half, and possibly more.  Would that we had a full bibliography of source texts.  I imagine it would read like a card catalog from the Rare and Ancient Books section of the Library of Alexandria.
Second, we have The Song of Khashbone, 21:27 thru 21:30.  This enigmatic poem that Torah says, "the bards would recite" is worthy of a good long drash in itself.  From Tannaitic authors to modern commentators, this poem is widely considered to be an Amorite text, borrowed and then tweaked for Israelite purposes.
And finally, my favorite literary detail: a song that reminds me in a very special way of a remarkable film, Andrei Rublev, by the Russian, Andrei Tarkovsky.  I am speaking of the song or poem that is perhaps only 8 words long, and perhaps as much as 12 or even 14 words, found at 21:17 to 18.  Here's one translation of the long (14 word) version, with it's introduction:
"17. Then Israel sang this song: Spring up, O well – sing to it – 18. The well which the chieftains dug, which the nobles of the people started with maces, with their own staffs.  And from the wilderness a gift!"
The poem has a couple of words that create particular difficulty for the Hebrew reader and the translator, most notably "mekhokek," translated variously as "maces", "scepters," and "styluses of Law".  But even disregarding this and the other hard words, the poem is not so easy to understand.  Not a few commentators have suggested it is a murky tribute to Miriam's well.  Or perhaps the people are praising Moses for striking the rock, objecting to God's punishment for this act.  Maybe.  But let's read it over again.
"Then Israel sang this song: Spring up, oh well.  Respond!  The well which the *chieftains* dug, which the *nobles of the people* started, with *maces*, with *their own* staffs."
What an ominously evocative beginning: "Uz y'sheer Yisroyel et ha-sheera ha-zote." Does that sound familiar?  The song of the Sea begins, "Uz y'sheer MOSHE u'venay Yisroyel et ha-sheera ha-zote L'ADONAI.  Our song today strips from acknowledgment both Moses and God!  The midrash resorts to a mashal, a parable, to justify these notable deletions.  But let us, instead, consider why Moses doesn't sing and God isn't addressed.
Who are these "chieftains" and these "nobles of the people."  I suggest, we know them very well.  We just read about them... last week.  They are Korakh and the rebels, who with maces and with their own stylus's of law, challenged the existing order and the existing power structure. They had just learned (in Sh'lach Lecha) that they weren't getting out of the desert alive.  For them the exodus didn't bring them to milk and honey.
So how is this song like the movie Andrei Rublev?  Andrei Rublev is a deeply subversive movie, that utterly delegitimizes the existing Soviet government. But it makes its points so subtly that the censors sensed something out of order, but they just couldn't put their finger on it.  In the end it was banned, with no reasons given, and it had to be smuggled out of the Soviet Union.
This song in Khukkat is really a literary bombshell, a powerful but subtle statement of rebellion.  But I think it's in Torah, not because it was able to slip past Moses and his editors, but precisely because Moses (et. al.) wanted us receivers of Torah to know that all authority is subject to question.  Korakh's rebellion was a popular uprising, and subtly Moses wanted us to know that perhaps his punishment was not so much about hitting rocks, but about striking down people.
Shabbat Shalom.



Friday, July 01, 2011

Aternen Jew: a reading; a video

I have been preparing a series of recorded readings of my current work, The Mith ov the Aternen Jew, since, for some reason, many people seem to think my poetry is hard to read. Go figure!

I've been told that listening to the poetry makes it a lot easier to "decipher." My mother used to have my father (both of blessed memory) read them to her, and then she'd exclaim, "Oh, so THAT'S what he's saying! Why doesn't he WRITE it that way!"

As I've mentioned before, this is a retelling of a myth that is at least a thousand years old. It has morphed into  innumerable versions, some anti-Semitic, some philo-Semitic, some using the symbolism and narrative to pursue existential and philosophical topics unburdened of religious charge! My poem is the first TRUE version. (smile). The section of the poem from which I have been preparing readings, is The Aternen Jewz Taelen, the Eternal Jew's version of history as he wanders around the Middle East and Europe. You might think of it as his diary.

So here's a short video, less than 3 minutes, to kick off the series. As always, your critical feedback is of great value to me, so don't hesitate to comment or email me.

Enjoy!!


video

Thursday, June 16, 2011

This week's Torah reading

Shelakh Lekha (Bamidbar/Numbers 13:1 - 15:41)

In Jewish liturgy, the Torah is divided into weekly portions, to be read sequentially throughout the year, beginning and ending on the holiday of Simkhat Torah. Which is to say, on Simkhat Torah we read the last verses of Devarim/Deuteronomy, and then the beginning verses of Beraysheet/Genesis. We then proceed to read the Torah in order over the course of the year, a Portion each week. Portions vary in length, but are usually between 2 and 5 chapters.

This week we read the portion Shelakh Lekha.

Questions:
What is the main event in this sidrah?
What is the main legal ruling in this sidrah?

Torah as a collection of documents:
The Torah is much more than a long narrative. It is a collection of many kinds of documents. Even the midrash (Canonical Rabbinic exegetical literature) acknowledges this:
Shemot Rabbah 5:22 explains that the Hebrew slaves had in their possession various scrolls, relating the incidents of the book of Beraysheet (Genesis), which they would enjoy reading during their rest every Shabbat.

Here is a list of the documents/components I found in this week's portion:
Scout narrative (chapts 13-14)
genealogy (13:4-15)
linguistic note (13:16): “Hoshayah” is past tense of helper/savior; Yehoshuah the future tense.
diplomacy/psychology: (13:17-20)
geography/place naming (13:21-24)
history (13:22): “and Hebron had been built... long before Tzoan (of) Mitzrayim.”
agricultural info (13:23)
myth: (13:28, 32-33): Anak and the giants
geography/nations: (13:29)
theophany (14:10-12)
logical debate (14:11-17) Moshe defeats God
divine events in nature (14:28-38)
military engagement (14:45)
directions for sacrificial rituals (15:1-14)
weights and measures (15:5-10)
moral dictate/law: (15:15-16)
ritual law/national taxation (15:19-21)
laws/procedures to seek atonement for sin (15:22-29)
laws for heretics/blasphemers (15:30-31)
precedent law (15:32-36)
laws/customs of tsitsit (fringes on garments). (15:38-39)
psychology (15:39) “[do] not go exploring after your own heart and after your own eyes... and become unfaithful to me”

Torah was written with acute attention to literary forms and styles:
Here are some motable literary details:

13:18 - “look at the land, what it is like.” Why the 2nd phrase? Literally: compare it to other places you’ve seen. Is it like Egypt or the wilderness?
13:22 - Hebron. Yet no mention of Machpelah, the burial place of the patriarchs and matriarchs. The 2 places are certainly connected, both early in Torah (Khiya Sarah) and in the midrash.
13:26-27 - “...came to Moshe and to Aaron and to the community.... They told him...” plural-singular conflict?
13:33 - “and so were we in their eyes.” Classic psychological projection. Indeed the opposite is true as we learn elsewhere, including directly from the Haftarah: the land was consumed with fear of the Israelites.
14:4 - After last week’s rebellion by Aaron and Miriam, now the community plots to replace/overthrow Moshe. He sways them, but next week, rebellion is the main narrative. Subtle hints of building discontent against Moshe.
14:18 - In Exodus, Moses discovers those attributes to be that God is "compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet God does not remit all punishment, but visits the iniquity of parents upon children and children's children, upon the third and fourth generations" (Exodus 34:6-7). But in Sh'lach L'cha, Moses reorders God's attributes as "slow to anger and abounding in kindness; forgiving iniquity and transgression; yet not remitting all punishment, but visiting the iniquity of fathers upon children, upon the third and fourth generations" (Numbers 14:18). In so doing, Moses leaves out seven of God's attributes, including compassion, graciousness, and forgiving of sin. In addition, he begins with "slow to anger."

the manna” is spelled exactly as “Haman.”

SMB Commentary:
As 10 of the 12 scouts were selected poorly, so very often in Jewish history, those we have chosen to represent us, do so poorly, setting their own interests and personalities as the standard for the community and its needs. This is particularly true when we select “notables” such as the rich and famous to represent us.

Assembly! One law for you and for the sojourner that takes-up-sojourn, a law for the ages, throughout your generations: as (it is for) you, so will it be (for) the sojourner before the presence of YHVH....” (Numbers 15:15, Everett Fox trans.)
This is the foundational difference between paganism and the Judaic vision of One God. It is not the worship of idols, per se, that is wrong or evil. The part points to the Whole, so idol worship is merely an indirect means of worshiping the One. Rather, it is the fragmentation of the Whole that then justifies the establishment of “insider” and “outsider” values and laws. All forms of oppression are the direct result of having 2 or more classes of law based on group status (inside/outside, us/them, powerful/weak). Paganism is not about believing rocks and trees are God; few pagans were so deluded. Paganism is about holding to dual standards, and therefore it is as relevant (and prevalent) an evil today as in the time of Avraham and Moshe.

The rebellion(s) against God teach us that it is inherent in human nature to resist, as well as desire to follow the Divine Will. Our resistance/rebellion is a defining feature of relationship to God, and the course of that struggle determines the depth and value of our spiritual search and the extent of our holiness.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

NGO’s, the EU, and anti-Zionism

Israel is arguably the most vilified country in the world. This is no coincidence. Before the establishment of Israel, Jews were the most vilified people in the world! Anti-Zionism is simply a modern continuation of this long-standing form of bigotry. Jew hatred is much more than a religious issue. It is equally political, social, economic, and cultural. Anti-Zionism may have religious threads woven into it, but it is primarily a political cloak to Jew-hatred. Israel is vilified because it is a Jewish nation, not because of its policies and behaviors. This does NOT mean that Israel is above criticism. Far from it. Israel, like every nation, and every person, is deserving of plenty of criticism. But the hatred and vilification of Israel is of a different order.

To support that statement, consider the following:

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has historically attracted extraordinary, and largely disproportionate, international attention. Not because of its ferocity: The number of Palestinians killed by Israelis (and vice versa) over the past six decades is probably smaller than the 9,000 Muslim Bosnians massacred in Srebrenica in July 1995 by their Serb and Croatian compatriots and decidedly smaller than the death toll from other conflicts throughout the globe that range in the hundreds of thousands if not millions.

Nor has this obsession been driven by humanitarian considerations. Not only is the Gaza Strip not in the throes of a deep crisis, but the humanitarian situation there is better than in some of the countries whose ships have been sent on occasion to break "the siege" of Gaza. Infant mortality in the Gaza Strip, for example, is 17.71 per thousand births compared to Turkey's 24.84 or the global average of 44; life expectancy in Turkey is 72.23 years whereas in Gaza it is 73.68, much higher than the global average of 66.12, not to mention such Arab or Islamic countries as Yemen (63.36), Sudan (52.52), or Somalia (50). Even by more advanced indicators, such as personal computer use or Internet access, Gazans are in a much better position than many of the world's inhabitants. In the words of the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, no Israel-lover by any stretch of imagination, "an average Congolese citizen would probably have sold his mother into slavery to be able to move to the West Bank."


Those two paragraphs are the opening (but for 1 prior paragraph) of an insightful and well-researched article, NGOs vs. Israel, by Ben-Dror Yemini, the opinion-editor of the Israeli daily Maariv. The full article can be found at Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2011, pp. 67-71,
http://www.meforum.org/2919/ngos-vs-israel
This article is worthy of your careful attention, whether you have a general interest to be well informed about this conflict, or you want to deepen your understanding of the subtle but pervasive reach of Jew-hatred.

Breakout Brick Wall, done

Here are some details of the completed wall. The process took much longer than I expected; probably 30 hours or so. Had to work in small batches of mortar since placement of each brick was slow, occasionally needing more chisel work to fit the odd spaces. Totally fun.




Monday, May 23, 2011

Kristallnacht Sonata

May 1 was Yom haShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Nov 9 is the commemoration date of Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom in Germany orchestrated by the nazi high command. Kristallnacht is often thought of as "the start" of the Shoah.

I presented the following piece a number of years ago during a Kristallnacht commemoration, and have wanted to record it ever since. I just purchased Mixcraft, an inexpensive but rather powerful software package for mixing tracks (and apparently images and video, as well). My first experiment was to produce a version of this, my Kristallnacht Sonata.

Since blogspot doesn't allow uploads of mp3's, I'm embedding a link to the sound file on my website. Here it is, but I'm not sure how it will work for you.
 
If you have problems with it, the recording can also be accessed directly by going to the Audio Room of my website, Shivvetee.com. Here's the link:

Let me know what you think.



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On a scrap of paper in an old notebook

On a scrap of paper in an old notebook

Raw:
O fiery voice full of bitter song
    and loud rumble.
Crashing voice that fills our cells with silence.
Lonely howling of our wolf soul
    Seeking blood.
The perfection of my hands
    That lets knowledge slip away
    Like water into a well.
    Faint splashes echoing in the blindness.
Pure light is strumming a mistuned guitar.
    Pure sound. A taste of soft pear nectar.


Cooked:
...O fiery voice, full of twanging colors,
    Reverbing static.
Crashing voice
    And the faint trembling of a leaf.
Prophetic howling. O wolf voice.
    And within it,
    Gnawing on splintered bone.

The perfection of words,
    That lets knowledge drip
    Like water into a well.
Faint splashes echoing in blindness.

O pure light, strummed on a mistuned guitar.
Pure sound
    With the tang of raw sienna...


Tyler, please analyze and comment! – smb

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Breakout Brick Wall

Working in the style of Conrad Malicoat, the brilliant Provincetown artist and bricklayer, I am building a low wall to set off a small garden in our back yard. Conrad named his technique "breakout brick work". Thus the title of this post. The wall will eventually be 4 to 6 layers high, and another 8 feet long.

Hey, Rad, you remain an inspiration to me! Love to Annie.



Friday, April 15, 2011

Wallpaper project

In our ongoing upgrade of our Washington row house, we did a little make-over on the pantry: painting the cabinets (which were an incredibly drab, exposed wood) and wallpapering the walls with a William Morris pattern. This little room, a bit over 100 square feet, as I recall, was a bear to wallpaper, with its skinny strips and numerous moulding and angled-wall cuts. Maybe 15-20 hours of work! And $350 for the wallpaper and supplies. Had we painted it: 2 hours max, and a little over a quart of paint. Ah, but what a difference!

Here are a couple of pics.
East wall, illuminated, taken from foyer.


East wall, unlit, taken from foyer.


East wall, from kitchen, looking into foyer.

North and west, from foyer.


Another north and west, from foyer.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Eternal Jew's Tale, Part 2, current

This excerpt from very recent work on The Mith ov the Atternen Jew is a little ramble on prophetic hearing, and what we can really know of the divine worlds, of the higher dimensions and infinities of what might be termed “Godthought”.

Mith ov the Atternen Jew

But doent immajjen we heeren kleer

An repeeten perfek wut moest a hewmenz
Kant heer at awl. Kant even immajjen.
Thats the kiend a hoggellee tok
That kno-nuttenz say, az if a manz
(Or even a woumen) kan kno an konvay
The divvine leengz. Konsidder this:
The hole a Torrah iz a seengel werden!
Taeks a thowzen yeer and a thowzen eer
In evree lan, awl them aenjel
Interpretten down tu the wiggelz ov the letterz
And even the meenz ov emptee spasen
Tu try tu expressen a seengel God thot.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Questions on this week's Torah reading

This is the week of Torah reading Shemini, Viyekra/Leviticus chapters 9 thru 11. Here are 4 questions for the astute reader:
1.What have we directly inherited from the Temple sacrificial system?

2. What is the embedded narrative going on from the previous sidrah into this one? I use “embedded” here to mean: it’s clearly part of the text, but not so obvious.

3. What sacrifice will still be needed in (utopian times)(messianic times)?

4. What is the most important olah offering that has shaped post-Talmud-era Judaism?

Monday, March 07, 2011

Drash on Viyeekra

Viyekra Drash

The following is a drash, an explication and interpretation of the sections of the Torah and Prophets that will be read this week in most synagogues around the world. Actually, I wrote it in the year 2000, and it happened to be a special Shabbat (Sabbath), with a different reading from Prophets than will be done this coming Shabbat, 3/12/2011 (6 Adar II, 5771 in the Jewish calendar). The Torah is broken down into portions, which are read sequentially throughout the year, so that once a year every Jewish congregation will have read the whole Torah from beginning to end. This coming week's portion is Viyikra, as it is known in Hebrew. It consists of the first five chapters of the book Leviticus.

This drash is not particularly daring, but I believe it nicely unpacks a difficult text, and contextualizes it in changing historical world-views. It’s rather long. I hope it holds your interest.


This Shabbat is Shabbat Viyekra. Viyekra, which means "And there called". An odd beginning, literally, "And there called to Moshe and there said, God, to him..." Already you know you're in deep water. So, let's step back, put on our life jackets, get our goggles, and start by sticking our toes in the surf.

We are beginning a new book of Torah this week. The book is also known as Viyekra. It is more familiarly known in English as Leviticus. The Rabbis often refer to it as Torot HaKohanim, "teachings to the Priests" (from God) and equally validly, "teachings by the Priests" (to the people). This is a book of instructions for managing the portable Mishkan, and later, the Temple. Literally an instruction manual, and it reads like one. Probably, there's very few of us who enjoy reading a lease, or a software user's guide. We read them not for the pleasure of the narrative, but for the knowledge, the skills, the power they give us.

The same is true here, in large measure. There is almost no narrative in this book, and in fact, the Torah is largely done with narrative. We came to Sinai, and almost everything up to that point was narrative, fascinating, completely pleasurable to read, full of wonders and poignant stories. At Sinai, the whole nature of the Torah changed, just as the whole nature of the Jewish people changed. Immediately after Sinai we get instructions to build a portable, but nonetheless spectacular Mishkan, a temple, a tent of meeting. Now the Mishkan's built, and we get detailed instructions for how we are to use it to worship, and use it to become a holy people.

This is really much like the pattern of most of our lives. When we're young our lives are defined by our adventures, what we do and what we fantasize. As we come to the point of taking responsibility for ourselves, we find a partner – the Sinai experience is often seen as a marriage ritual between us and God – and then we make a house for ourselves, as the people made the Mishkan. And then we get down to the details of establishing ourselves, building a knowledge base and and functional skills. And the parallels continue; this isn't a coincidence. If we desire, and we're fortunate, we have children. The book of Numbers is the counting of the generations, numbering our children, trying to pass on our mission to them, sending them off into their own new land. And Deuteronomy, Devarim in Hebrew, is a summing up and looking back. What have we accomplished, and what have we not accomplished.

So, the Torah is really a template for each of our individual lives, as well as our life together as a community, here in Victoria, and here in the world, spanning the millennia as Jews, as a holy people.

From this perspective, the minute details in Leviticus, Torot HaKohanim, Viyekra, have a value that may not be apparent on first blush. What is this instruction manual about? As I said, it's about managing the Temple, which is a template for managing our own spiritual lives. It is about proper worship of God, and about how to be holy. It's about preparing ourselves to deal with our incompleteness, our imperfections, our errors, and still have a working relationship with God, with our Divine Foundation.

"All the earth is Mine, but you shall be My kingdom of priests, and a holy nation." We are being taught to be the Priesthood to the world. This is a very serious instruction manual. And that's why this book is known as Torot HaKohanim, teaching to and by the Priests.

Still, this is a very difficult book to read. I have read it many times, and yet it always remained a mishmash to me. One thing blended into another, and I'd always walk away not really holding on to anything. So let me summarize the whole book, because this is what we're going to be dealing with for many weeks, and then I'll focus in.

The book is divided into two main portions. The first half deals with the many kinds of sacrifices, and the details of preparing and presenting them. It then goes on to address the issues of purity in the pursuit of holiness. That's part 1, thru chapter 16. Chapters 17-27 have been called the "Holiness Code." It builds from the commandments and laws given at Sinai, setting them in a framework of correct ritual and holiness. From another angle, the first half of the book is God's teachings TO the Kohanim. The second half is the Kohanim's teachings to the people.

Today's portion discusses the basic modes and classes of offerings, of sacrifices. It discusses what may be offered, and how it is to be offered. It discusses what the priest must do, and if and when the donor plays a part. And since the sacrificial system also had an important economic role, since it supplied the basic income and food for the priesthood, we learn here what parts would be burned, what parts the priests could keep, and what parts they had to share with the donor.

A particularly interesting detail has to do with the donor's passing a sacrificial animal to the priest. He/she had to lean into it, pressing with both hands. "Laying on of hands" is how it's often translated. The Hebrew, which you can see beginning the 4th verse of Chapter 1, is "samach" and elsewhere, "semikhah". Does that ring a bell to anyone? "Semikhah" is what we call rabbinic ordination. I believe the first example of this usage in Torah is when Moshe lays his hands on Yehoshua, Joshua, conferring leadership on him. We can understand this in a linear manner: a transference of spiritual responsibility, to the student no less than to the sacrificial animal, BUT we can also see this as an amazing linguistic and conceptual inversion. We go from sending an animal to its death, to conferring life and spiritual continuity on the next generation. And so, already in the Torah we see a movement from physical ritual to spiritual teaching. We pursue that line a little later.


I'd like to discuss the kinds of sacrifices because it's confusing and I've been reading these chapters for years and never could make much sense of it, but there so many other juicy things, that I think I'll talk instead about the transition from a sacrifice-based religion to a prayer-based religion, and how they are related, continuous, and intertwined.

But we need at least this bit of background. The term "sacrifice" in Hebrew has a general name: "Korbon". Chapter 1 describes the first kind of korbon, the Olah, often translated Holocaust, because, excepting the skin, the whole animal was completely burned; none was eaten. It is a KIND of sacrifice; it had more than one purpose, but it was never used to remove sin or guilt. "Olah" means "ascent" so it's a supplication. "Remember us. Be kind to us."

Oddly, both the terms Korbon and Holocaust came to be used to describe the destruction of European Jewry in our era. While Korbon quickly went out of use, Holocaust has become the most widely used and known term, but many object to it, because it has its origins in a sacred ritual, which seems entirely inappropriate. That is why many people, including myself, prefer the term Shoah, which means "destruction" and has no sacred or ritual antecedents in its usage.

So now we can look at our Haftorah portion. Actually, the normal Haftorah for today is Isaiah 43 and 44, an awesome portion, describing how the people have fallen away from holiness, and into idolatry, with extended images describing corrupted sacrificial rites. It begins like this: "You have not called on Me oh Ya'akov... nor did you honor Me with your sacrifices... And YET I will not remember your sins! Put Me in remembrance. Let us plead together. State your case that you may be vindicated!" Wow. Even more amazing perhaps is how Elie Wiesel and others turned this around, requiring God make vindication for the Shoah, for the Holocaust.


But we didn't read that portion today. Because it is Shabbat Zachor, the second of the special Shabbatot leading up to Pesach, we read an equally electrifying Haftorah, Shmuel 15. Shmuel is sent by God to tell Saul to destroy Amelek; to kill not only every single person, including elderly and children, but every living creature, all their cattle, to destroy their homes and everything in them. What does Saul do? He and the troops spare some of the choice animals, and take Agag the king, captive. The text says Saul had pity on Agag and on the best of the cattle and the finest objects. Is it pity, greed, or pride of interpretation: "I will decide what God intends." God informs Shmuel that Saul didn't follow the letter of the commandment. Shmuel goes to find Saul, and soon as Saul sees him says, "I have fulfilled the word of the Lord." And Shmuel responds, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears?" Is he referring to the sheep or Saul's jabber? Shmuel goes on, "Even if you are small in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel!" The responsibility of leadership. The responsibility of being a priesthood people. And then we hear something even more amazing from Shmuel: 15:22, the first major revision in prophetic literature of the course of our spiritual destiny: "Has the Lord as much desire in burnt-offerings and peace offerings, as in obeying the Voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than a peace offering, to listen intently for God's word is better than the fat of rams!" And the reading ends with Shmuel hacking Agag to pieces, not unlike some sacrificial slaughtering run amok. Yoy.

And thus we have been set on our spiritual journey. We have some problems here. We have a text with an extremely detailed accounting of sacrificial rituals, coupled with a legal code of incomparable justice and democracy. We have later parts of the text demanding slaughter, and genocide, juxtaposed against the most profoundly insightful and moral teachings. And here we are 3000 years later confronting this primitive ritual, sacrifice, that has become offensive to most of us. How do we cope with it? The problem is, we can't just read the text and say, "Nah, this is no good. This is wrong. I don't like this. This is politically incorrect. Let's throw it out."

This text is holy whether we say it came directly from God or indirectly through inspired prophets, or just that it's just a brilliant human thing. We have devoted ourselves to it for 3000 years. 150 generations devoted themselves to it, memorized it, interpreted it, died for it. It is at the foundation of our identity. And because it is so essential to us, we are obligated to do 2 things, at least: carry it forward intact, and make it relevant, even add new literature to it today.

I remember when I was in college it was the time of the Vietnam war. I remember seeing a veteran wearing a tee shirt that said: "Kill 'em all and let God sort it out." It was at once horrifying and completely understandable. And really, when you think about it, that is exactly what Saul was commanded to do. Are we still in that same place today? Some might say yes, but I don't think so. I think our history has created a new mandate for us.

From Shmuel on, the Prophets contrasted the demands of ethical behavior with sacrifice, insisting on the primacy of morality, not ritual. No prophet called for the end of sacrifice, at least not until the early 19th century, but Amos, Jeremiah, Shmuel, Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah all made strong arguments, demoting sacrifice to a place well below moral behavior. But it was not until the Roman destruction of the Temple that sacrifice ended. At that time the transition from a priesthood class to a priesthood religion was completed.

It's an interesting historical development. I don't have time for it here, but let me tell one story, a parable by Rabbi Levi, found in Leviticus Rabbah. "The son of a King became mentally confused and fell into the habit of eating carrion. Thus, the King ordered the servants to serve kosher meat at his table prepared from the same kinds of animals, so that the son might regain the habit of eating proper food. Similarly, Rabbi Levi continues, Israel became addicted to idolatry in Egypt, and in the desert they still brought offerings to goat demons. God said, 'Let them bring regular sacrifices to Me, and they will be protected from the tendency to idolatry.'" What's the point here? This 5th century rabbi is already saying sacrifice is a temporary means to wean us from idolatry. Once weaned, it could be dispensed with. Revolutionary ideas in those days, and it took another 1200 years before the Reform movement, followed 100 years later by the Convervative and Reconstructionist movements, to comprehensively renounce the idea that sacrifice might be re-instituted, should a 3rd Temple be built. I should mention, that many in the Orthodox movement find this rejection entirely unacceptable, given that such a significant portion of the Torah is devoted to sacrifice.

There's so much more to talk about. The sacrifices themselves; the problems and obscure parts of the text, including essential ritual details that have remained entirely unstated; the differences in Orthodox and Conservative siddurim relating to sacrifice. A more detailed tracking of the history of transition from sacrifice to prayer, and priest class to priest religion; related texts found in other cultures, that help us understand the international flavor of these rituals.

But let me end with a bibliography. I have 4 Chumashim: Samson Hirsch, Aryeh Kaplan, Fox, and the Reform Chumash by Plaut. Every one is a treasure chest of ideas and commentary. Plaut's is particularly good, altho the actual translation he uses is uninspired. Then there's the Jewish Publication Society's 5 volume commentary. Finally, the online sources are very expansive. I give my students a list of 4 sites, and I'd be glad to email them to anyone who requests. And these are the sources that will simply help you scratch the surface.

Shabbat shalom.


Addundum on sacrifices, with apologies for a little repetition from above.

First, I ask your indulgence. I think it appropriate to discuss the kinds of sacrifices described in our portion. The term "sacrifice" in Hebrew has a general name: "Korbon". Chapter 1 describes the first kind of korbon, the Olah, often translated Holocaust, because, excepting the skin, the whole animal was completely burned; none was eaten. It is a KIND of sacrifice; it had more than one purpose, but it was never used to remove sin or guilt. "Olah" means "ascent" so it's a supplication. "Remember us. Be kind to us."

Oddly, both the terms Korbon and Holocaust came to be used to describe the destruction of European Jewry in our era. While Korbon quickly went out of use, Holocaust has become the most widely used and known term, but many object to it, because it has its origins in a sacred ritual, which seems entirely inappropriate. That is why many people, including myself, prefer the term Shoah, which means "destruction" and has no sacred or ritual antecedents in its usage.

Chapter 2 describes the second type of sacrifice, the "minkhah", which translates to "tribute" or "gift". It establishes the donor's subservience to God. Here again there is no expiation for sin or guilt with this sacrifice. Originally, Minkhah was a generic term. Both Kayin and Abel's sacrifices were called minkhah, even tho Abel's was animal, and Kayin's grain. Here, now, it is taking on a more specific character. Now it is NOT an animal sacrifice. It is a grain offering, more accurately wheat, and still more accurately, semolina, the best part of the wheat. It too was burned, but only a handful. Before burning, it was usually mixed with olive oil and frankincense. What was not burned was eaten by the priests, presumably without frankincense. Minkhah was a late afternoon or evening sacrifice, and it's name, and its intentionality have been transferred to the daily afternoon prayer service.

Chapter 3 brings us to the Zevakh, especially the Zevakh Sh'lamim, the "sacrifice of well being" or the "sacred gift of greeting". This was specifically a sacred meal, so altho some would be burned, the majority would be eaten by the priests WITH the donor. So, it was unlike the Olah in that much was not burned, and it was unlike the minkhah in that the donor also ate it. Also, it could even be eaten outside the sanctuary. These latter 2 differences also made it a step down in holiness.

So you can see the borders between these offeringss are hazy, with many shared components and some distinct ones. More importantly, because we don't do them anymore in any physical way, it's hard to see the value in trying to figure them out. It can be compared, perhaps to the laws of Kashrut for someone who doesn't keep kosher. You can eat meat and you can eat milk, but you can't eat milk and meat together. You can eat fish and you can eat meat, but again, not together. But just a second, you can eat milk and then you can eat meat, but not the reverse. You get the point. If you don't do this every day, it's definitely confusing, and it's hard to see the point why anyone would WANT to do it. So why do Jews do this? One reasone is because there's knowledge and meaning in the DOING that can't be derived from the ideas alone.

This parasha covers 2 more sacrifices, as well. These are specifically to expiate sin or guilt. They are called the Khattat and the asham sacrifices. These 2 sacrifices are meant to restore purity. In the Biblical context purity and sinlessness are equated, and impurity and sinfulness are equated. While the text talks a bit about the sacrificial ritual, more of it is devoted to defining the crime and its category. I could discuss these sacrifices at length, but let me say only this: sacrifice was NEVER meant for purposeful sins. You sinned; you were subject to punishment. Only if your sin was unintentional, or due to ignorance of the laws, could sacrifice be used as a PART of the expiation. You were still also subject to appropriate restitution, as Chapters 4 and 5 describe.