הלכות קדומות בפי רבי יהודה — עדות לתמורה בתפיסת 'הדם הוא הנפש'

Translated title of the contribution: Ancient Rituals Transmitted by R. Judah — Evidence of a Transformed Understanding of 'Blood is Life'

N. Zohar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

How can expiation be attained through animal sacrifice and the placing of blood on the altar? Most research in this field regarding rabbinic Judaism has concentrated on aggadic material, despite the primacy (here) of halakhic sources. By analyzing a discussion between R. Judah, who attests to ancient tradition, and 'the sages', we learn of a fundamental shift in the understanding of the Biblical explanation: 'it is blood, as life, that effects expiation' (Lev. 17:11). In the Bible, the centrality of blood in expiation rituals hinges upon its material identification with life. But in the Mishnah only a small portion of it ('the life-blood', whose spilling caused death) is deemed appropriate for placing on the altar; this same limitation applies to the severe prohibition on eating blood. Over against this prevalent ruling — based on a bold restrictive interpretation — R. Eliezer, and following him R. Judah, adhere to the ancient identification of blood with life. Independent corroboration for this shift is found in R. 'Aqiva's innovative insistence on the importance of the 'receiving' ritual. Is there evidence for a parallel transformation regarding the miasmic nature of guilt? And if there is, can we trace a new rabbinic understanding of the expiation rituals? Halakhic-theological research in this vein is an important key for deciphering the sages' spiritual world.
Translated title of the contributionAncient Rituals Transmitted by R. Judah — Evidence of a Transformed Understanding of 'Blood is Life'
Original languageHebrew
Pages (from-to)525-530
JournalTarbiz: a quarterly for Jewish studies
Volume58
StatePublished - 1989

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