Torah Portion

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

אחרי מות-קדושים

Leviticus 16:1–20:27
Amos 9:7–15

Speaking Truth to Power, Job Accuses God of Being Unjust

Speaking Truth to Power, Job Accuses God of Being Unjust

Job's friends piously justify God's actions and challenge Job to accept that he has done wrong. Yet God sides with Job and rebukes the friends for not “speaking about me in honesty as did my servant Job”.

Prof.
Edward L. Greenstein
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Terms of Taboo: What Is the Moral Basis for the Sexual Prohibitions?

Terms of Taboo: What Is the Moral Basis for the Sexual Prohibitions?

Leviticus 18 and 20 condemn sexual sins using several harsh terms; toevah, zimmah, chesed, tevel. Do these terms have specific meanings and what do they tell us about the Torah’s reason for forbidding incest?

Dr.
Yitzhaq Feder
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The Scapegoat Ritual and Its Ancient Near Eastern Parallels

The Scapegoat Ritual and Its Ancient Near Eastern Parallels

In the scapegoat ritual of Yom Kippur and the bird ritual of the metzora, sin/impurity is transferred onto an animal and it is sent away. These biblical examples have parallels in Eblaite, Hittite, Ugaritic, and Neo-Assyrian apotropaic rituals.

Dr.
Noga Ayali-Darshan
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Love Your Neighbor: How It Became the Golden Rule

Love Your Neighbor: How It Became the Golden Rule

The precept וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” in Leviticus, is one of many action-oriented commandments focused on Israelite social cohesion. Only in Late Antique Jewish and early Christian sources, did the rule take on a transcendent role as the principle in which all of the Torah is encompassed.

Prof.
John J. Collins
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Which Relatives Are You Prohibited from Marrying?

Which Relatives Are You Prohibited from Marrying?

Leviticus’ list of conjugally-forbidden relations was extensive for its time. While the Karaites expanded the list greatly, the rabbis did so only slightly, leaving modern-day rabbinic Judaism with more relatives permitted for marriage than most western societies.

Prof. Rabbi
Marty Lockshin
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Does the Torah Prohibit Father–Daughter Incest?

Does the Torah Prohibit Father–Daughter Incest?

Leviticus 18 includes an extensive list of prohibited sexual relations, including incest, but it does not mention relations between a father and daughter. How can this glaring omission be explained?

Dr.
Eve Levavi Feinstein
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Bestiality in Biblical and Hittite Law

Bestiality in Biblical and Hittite Law

Only two law collections in the ancient Near East discuss bestiality: the Torah and the Hittite laws. How do these laws differ, and why may they have developed?

Dr.
Ilan Peled
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Poetic Laws

Poetic Laws

A fresh look at the legislation in Parashat Kedoshim: Are we reading the legal details wrong? 

Dr.
Jason Gaines
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The Biblical Prohibition of Polygyny?

The Biblical Prohibition of Polygyny?

Popular legend tells us that Rabbenu Gershom (d. ca 1028) was the first to prohibit polygyny. The Damascus Covenant’s understanding of the law in Leviticus 18:18, however, suggests that polygyny may have been prohibited more than a thousand years earlier by the Priestly authors.

Dr. Hacham
Isaac S. D. Sassoon
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Why the Torah Prohibits Incest

Why the Torah Prohibits Incest

Although incest taboos are found in the majority of cultures, medieval Jewish thinkers found this to be an insufficient explanation for the Torah’s prohibitions. 

Prof. Rabbi
Marty Lockshin
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Gleanings for the Poor – Justice, Not Charity

Gleanings for the Poor – Justice, Not Charity

The agricultural allocations for the poor outlined in Leviticus and Deuteronomy are a series of negative commandments, in which God forbids Israelite householders from gathering some of their produce and requires them to leave it for the poor. The rabbis took these laws a step further, granting the poor property rights over the allocations even before they are gathered.

Dr.
Gregg E. Gardner
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The Priestly Repudiation of Yibbum

The Priestly Repudiation of Yibbum

Deuteronomy commands a man to marry the childless widow of his brother (yibbum). And yet, a close look at the Priestly text of the Torah shows that it did not have the option of yibbum.

Dr. Hacham
Isaac S. D. Sassoon
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How the Prohibition of Male Homosexual Intercourse Altered the Laws of Incest

How the Prohibition of Male Homosexual Intercourse Altered the Laws of Incest

Originally Leviticus 18 prohibited homosexual incest with a man’s father (v. 7) and his uncle (v. 14). When the prohibition of male homosexual intercourse was added, the Torah modified the aforementioned laws and consequently changed the meaning of לגלות ערוה “to uncover nakedness.”[1]

Dr.
Idan Dershowitz
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Yom Kippur and the Nature of Fasting

Yom Kippur and the Nature of Fasting

Jewish tradition places a strong emphasis on the importance of repentance on Yom Kippur. It finds its way into Yom Kippur through a post biblical association between fasting and repentance. But what does fasting signify in the Bible and what did it mean originally in the context of Leviticus 16?

Dr.
David Lambert
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The Law of Fourth-Year Fruit: Restraining the Ancient Vintage Celebration

The Law of Fourth-Year Fruit: Restraining the Ancient Vintage Celebration

Ancient Israel had two separate customs relating to vineyards and wine that took place during the time of vintage: a fertility rite (חילול) that marked the first use of a vineyard’s produce, and an annual vintage celebration (הילולים) in which the winegrowers praised God for their harvest. As the rites seem to have been wild, the law of ‘orla and the fourth year produce (רבעי) in Lev. 19:23-25 attempts to restrict them.

Dr.
Itamar Kislev
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The Mitzvah of Covering the Blood of Wild Animals

The Mitzvah of Covering the Blood of Wild Animals

Leviticus requires covering the blood of undomesticated animals; Deuteronomy requires pouring out the blood of slaughtered domesticated animals onto the ground. How do these laws jibe with each other? The Essenes have one answer, the rabbis another, the academics a third.

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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The Inner Workings of a Genizah Midrash on the Symbolic Value of Orlah

The Inner Workings of a Genizah Midrash on the Symbolic Value of Orlah

A set of homilies from the Genizah connects two biblical readings (sidrot) in Leviticus by emphasizing the importance of the mitzvah of orlah as a key to inheriting and remaining on the land.

Dr.
Shana Strauch-Schick
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Tova Sacher
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Sexual Prohibitions in the Bible and the ANE: A Comparison

Sexual Prohibitions in the Bible and the ANE: A Comparison

How do the laws of Leviticus 18 compare to the laws and practices of the Babylonians, Hittites, and Egyptians, and to the rest of the Bible?

Dr.
Eve Levavi Feinstein
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Paying Workers Immediately or Within Twelve Hours?

Paying Workers Immediately or Within Twelve Hours?

Leviticus 19:13 and Deuteronomy 24:14 insist that workers be paid without delay. The Talmud, however, interprets these two verses in a way that actually delays paying the workers. Rashbam and Ramban, reassert the peshat (plain meaning), thereby preserving the intent of the law.

Prof. Rabbi
Marty Lockshin
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Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

אחרי מות-קדושים

Leviticus 16:1–20:27

כִּי בַיּוֹם הַזֶּה יְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיכֶם לְטַהֵר אֶתְכֶם מִכֹּל חַטֹּאתֵיכֶם לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה תִּטְהָרוּ׃

ויקרא טז:ל

For on this day atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you of all your sins; you shall be clean before YHWH.

Lev 16:30

Leviticus

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