This week’s Torah portion contains what is essentially an instruction manual for offering sacrifices: what are appropriate offerings, what the donor does with it (such as laying hands on it), what the priest does with it besides slaughtering it, whether it is entirely burned or just part, the rest to be eaten, who is to eat it, how prescribed offerings may vary with circumstances (i.e., when may a poor person give a less expensive offering) , and so on. And there is the question: why? Why a certain sacrifice for a certain situation and why animal (or meal or fruit) sacrifices at all? The sacrificial system was certainly a way of supporting (and feeding) the priests and Levities, but it was more importantly viewed as a concrete way of coming closer to the Lord. The word for a type of sacrifice, “korban,” has the same root in Hebrew as “to draw near.” And just as we make donations of money (or give flowers and candy according to one cultural stereotype) in honor of something or someone or in memory of someone or because we feel guilty or because we feel thankful or because it’s a holiday, there were sacrifices for all sorts of reasons. This week we read about sacrifices of well-being in Chapter 3 and sin offerings in Chapters 4 and 5. The latter offerings are for guilt incurred by a priest, a chieftain, the whole community, or a single person, when they’ve done something the Lord commanded them not to do. Part is offered on the altar, the hide and flesh are burned completely outside the camp, the priest makes expiation for the guilty. We also start getting into reparations, which involves making restitution for a loss incurred (“principal”), plus a penalty of “a fifth” (which is actually a fourth – that is, it’s a fourth of the principal, making it a fifth of the principal plus penalty).
Why animal sacrifices? The sages have argued with each other about that across the centuries, especially Maimonides versus Nachmanides. Maimonides wrote of the sacrificial system as an interim mechanism to wean the Israelites from idolatry (sacrifices to idols -> sacrifices to the Lord -> serving the Lord without sacrifices). Nachmanides dismissed an association of sacrifices per se with idolatry, since sacrifices predated idols (e.g., Cain and Abel, Noah et al.), instead suggesting that the animal sacrifice is offered as a symbolic, concrete substitute for the sinner who offers it. This is discussed by Nehama Leibowitz in New Studies in Vayikra, pp. 1-22, but I haven’t had a chance to do more than skim it so please don’t ask me anything but feel free to jump in with additions and/or corrections, and I’ll send them out with next week’s missive.
See also a book, The Cat Owner’s Manual by Dr. David Brunner and Sam Stall
User Installation and Maintenance Documentation
CAT vs. 7.0: Completely Autonomous Telepurronics
Manufactured by MOM CAT
System Design SpecifiCATions:
Energy Saving Standby Mode When Not In Use
Self Portable Operation
Dual Video and Audio Input
Auto Search Routines for Input Data
Auto Search for Output Bin
Instant Transition (2 nanoseconds) Between Standby
and Full Power Mode
Installation Procedures: Upon receiving the CAT unit, the user should examine the unit to verify that all I/O channels are operational. Look for minor bugs in or on the system. The user may manually remove any bugs.
Bring the CAT to operation in an environment temperature at 70°F (±3° tolerance). Use a quiet room with the primary user(s) present. Open the transportation case and let the CAT unit autoexit. Initialize the self learning program Katfind® by displaying the input bins. These should contain H2O (liquid state, room temperature, 99% purity) and dry energy pellets. Immediately afterwards, display the output bin.
If the user already has a CAT unit successfully installed, it may be possible to transfer BASIC routines to the new CAT. For the first day or two, the CAT will stay in self learning mode. When the learn buffer overflows, the CAT will autoswitch to sleep mode. This is normal. The MMU system will store the new information to permanent memory. After 72 hours, the CAT will be interacting with the operating environment.
The unit may be placed in direct sunlight. CAT units are operational in all axis: standing, sitting, or laying down. If all basic environment requirements are satisfied, the CAT system will produce a slight hum. This is normal.
Maintenance: CATs will self-recharge. This takes 20 hours in a 24 hour cycle.
Do not attempt to open a CAT. There are no user serviceable parts inside. If a unit emits unusual smells or sounds, it should be serviced immediately by a VET.
Warning Notices: CAT systems are normally user friendly. However, in certain documented situations, a CAT may pose a danger to the user. Repeated jamming or obstruction of I/O ports may lead to deployment of auto-defense systems.
Children should not poke anything into the CAT‘s I/O ports. CAT may BYTE.
In dry, cold weather, a surface electrostatic charge may build up. To avoid electric shock, stand on an insulated surface.
Do not operate the CAT above water. This may lead to end-user damage.
Carry the CAT firmly. Do not swing it by its “tail.”
If you properly care for your CAT, it will give you years of loyal service. Many users get a second unit, to enjoy the ability to run complex simulation games.
Lifetime Warranty: The CAT unit is guaranteed against CATastrophic failure. Nine coupons are included.
Documented Problems: The Ctrl key on most CAT units is defective. This may lead to serious performance problems.
Do not install a BIRD unit at a site which has an operational CAT unit. These tend to disappear.
Father O’Malley answers the phone.
“Hello, is this Father O’Malley?” the voice on the other end asked.
“This is the IRS. Can you help us?”
“Do you know a Ted Houlihan?”
“Is he a member of your congregation?”
“Did he donate $10,000 to the church?”
The Dog at the Butcher Shop
A woman watched a dog go into a butcher’s shop.
“What is it today?” asked the butcher. “Pork?”
The dog shook its head.
“Beef?” suggested the butcher.
The dog shook its head.
“Lamb chops?” tried the butcher.
The dog wagged its tail excitedly.
The butcher wrapped up two lamb chops, gave them to the dog and the dog trotted out. The same thing happened the following day and the woman was so intrigued that she decided to follow the dog out of the shop. She saw the dog walk up the steps to a house, stand on his hind legs and ring the doorbell with his nose. A man answered the door and immediately started shouting angrily at the dog.
The woman was incensed. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” she told the man. “That is the cleverest dog I’ve ever seen. He goes to the butcher’s, fetches your dinner, brings it home and rings the doorbell. And you treat him like that!”
“That’s as maybe,” said the man, “but it’s the fourth time this week that he’s forgotten his key.”
On Leadership –
In the April 8, 1996 issue of Forbes Magazine in an article entitled, “Leadership Can Be Learned?”, a Penn State Report estimated that organizations in the US spent over $15 billion in 1995 on leadership training (defined as training executives or the hierarchy) (Rifkin, 1996). Fifteen billion dollars divided by 52 weeks, comes to $288,461,539 spent on leadership training per week. This weekly expense equals 14.5 tons of twenty dollar bills. (One million dollars in twenty dollar bills weighs 101 pounds).
If we spend 14.5 tons of twenty dollar bills* on leadership training every week in the US, what is our return on investment? If we are spending freight cars full of money every week on leadership training, where are all the leaders? Where is the leadership? (And where is all that money!)
* Please note that this is only 2.9 tons of $100 bills! Much more easily hidden in a cargo van.
Quotes on Guilt
“I have never smuggled anything in my life. Why, then, do I feel an uneasy sense of guilt on approaching a customs barrier?”
John Steinbeck quotes (American Novelist and Writer, Nobel Prize for Literature for 1962, 1902–1968)