Sunday, March 28, 2004

Tzav #1:

The Haftara for this week's parsha begins in Yirmiyahu perek 7. There, Yirmiya refers to the valley of Ben Hinnom, the Gei Ben Hinnom, which gives rise to a Hebrew word referring to Hell, Gehenom (Gehenna). Yirmiyahu writes (7:30-31)

כִּי-עָשׂוּ בְנֵי-יְהוּדָה הָרַע בְּעֵינַי, נְאֻם-ה: שָׂמוּ שִׁקּוּצֵיהֶם, בַּבַּיִת אֲשֶׁר-נִקְרָא-שְׁמִי עָלָיו--לְטַמְּאוֹ.

וּבָנוּ בָּמוֹת הַתֹּפֶת, אֲשֶׁר בְּגֵיא בֶן-הִנֹּם, לִשְׂרֹף אֶת-בְּנֵיהֶם וְאֶת-בְּנֹתֵיהֶם, בָּאֵשׁ--אֲשֶׁר לֹא צִוִּיתִי, וְלֹא עָלְתָה עַל-לִבִּי.

"For the children of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight, saith the LORD; they have set their detestable things in the house whereon My name is called, to defile it.
And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded not, neither came it into My mind."

What is being referred to here is the worship of Molech, a form of idolatry which often involved human sacrifice. A man would sacrifice his child, often his firstborn, to the fires of Molech.

Hashem does not command nor desire this type of sacrifice for Himself. As the pasuk states, "לֹא צִוִּיתִי, וְלֹא עָלְתָה עַל-לִבִּי", "which I commanded not, neither came it into My mind."

Indeed, the mind turns at the horror of sending one's child into the flames, (or into the burning hot metal arms of the idol), and the hardheartedness it takes to send one's child to his death. Indeed such a place is worthy of being the namesake of Hell.

Judaism does not beleive in human sacrifices. Avraham was an exception - it was a test of commitment that was never going to be followed through, since Hashem does not want such sacrifices. It was a defining moment at the beginning of a religion, showing that Hashem does not actually want such sacrifices. Yes, firstborn are dedicated to Hashem, as the original priestly caste, as acquired by Hashem via his sparing of the firstborn Jewish sons during the 10th plague, with a requirement to redeem the firstborn son, but if no redemption is made, the son is not killed. Hashem does not want human sacrifice and we see some of this distaste in the Haftara.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin