Wednesday, December 1st | 27 Kislev 5782

March 10, 2014 2:18 pm

Barack Obama and Biblical Sacrifice

avatar by Edward Alexander

President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast. Photo: Screenshot.

In synagogues all over the country, last Saturday’s opening portion of Leviticus (usually called “Vayyikra”) was read aloud. It deals at length with the laws of sacrifice. Explanations of the possible spiritual meaning of animal sacrifice usually come in three categories: symbolic (articulated by Philo, among others), juridical (often associated with Ibn Ezra and Nachmanides), and rational (embodied in Maimonides’ dismissal of the symbolic and juridical rationales as – not to put too fine a point upon it – nonsense.

According to the greatest Moses since Moses himself, those Jews who trouble themselves to discover why one offering should be a lamb, while another is a ram, are “void of sense; they do not remove any difficulties but rather increase them.”

But Vayikra offers a fourth explanation, a shrewdly political one, remarkably well suited to the current occupant of the White House. It appears in Chapter 4, Verses 22-24:

“When a ruler sinneth, and doeth through error any one of all the things which the LORD his God hath commanded not to be done, and is guilty;: if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, be known to him he shall bring for his offering a goat, a male without blemish. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt-offering before the LORD; it is a sin-offering.”

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Barack Obama has not only had to admit, however circuitously, responsibility for the colossal “errors” of Obamacare; he also presides over a government whose ruling principle often seems to be precisely the legalization of forbidden fruit, i.e., doing the things God hath commanded NOT to be done.

Would not the sacrifice of this single goat be a more honest, straightforward, dignified, and picturesque way of admitting sin than tortured statements about “misspeaking” or “failing to foresee” or scores of other ways to avoid and evade the admission of “sin” and “error” and the manifold violations of “thou shalt not”?

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