Saturday, June 27, 2009

Devarim Is Just Different (Part 2)

We go on with David A.'s comparison of Devarim and the rest of Chumash (ROC). This time, we compare the Mitzvot, which forms the 2nd (and biggest) part of the book.

This review really can be broken down in two main groups. Those mitzvot that are in contradiction (wholly or just some detail) to the corresponding mitzva given in the rest of Chumashm (RofC), and those mitzvot that are a clear duplicate of a corresponding mitzvah from the ROC but with additional or fewer features.

So, for the group of mitzvot that seem contradictory or contain contradictory elements and in no particular order.

•Maaser (tithes). Deut 14:22 defines the annual tithe as a requirement that every farmer set aside 10% of his crop and bring it up to Jerusalem for him and his family to consume. Num 18:21 says all maaser is for the Levi.

To anticipate the response to this that the oral law has resolved this issue by promulgating 2 tithes (rishon for the levi, sheni for the farmer), i would like to point out that an objective and reasonable reading of D, indicates that the author of D did not know about or keep thi so-called “levi” tithe. This follows from the fact that that overall D is very concerned about the welfare of the Levi. At least half a dozen times he demands that the farmer share his “simcha” with the levi and twice he admonishes B.Y. “not to abandon the levi” (D 12:19, 14:27), so it is not credible that if there was a maser levi that D would fail to remind BY of it. Further D14:28 assigns a special command to clean house of all leftover maaser by inviting the Levi (and the poor) to a “house cleaning”. This makes no sense if there is already a maaser levi in affect.

•Bechor. (first born of sheep and cattle) D 14:23 & 15:20 says that the first born is for the cattle owner to bring to Jerusalem for him to consume with his family. Lev 27:26 says its to be given to “God” (i.e. the Kohen). Also, D 15:19 says the farmer should specifically “sanctify” his first born. Lev 27:26 provides a contradictory message.

•Festivals. In the Rof C they are designated as holy days (mikrei koidesh) and thereby all work is prohibited. Not so in D 16:1-15. And, except for the last day of Pesach, there is no indication of a work prohibition. In fact one may argue that D 16:8, by specifying a prohibition on day 7 of pesach, this indicates that the other days work was permitted. In fact, Deut D 16:7 clearly states that on the morn’ of day 1 of Pesach one may travel home.
•A few additional minor details that are contradictory. Deut 16:2 says that the Korban pesach can be from sheep and cattle, while Exodus says it was to be sheep. Also, D 16:7 says it is eaten cooked and Exodus says only roasted. In Deut, succot is seven days, while in Lev /Num its seven days followed by an eighth non-work day. And there is no indication that succot has booths or is related to the exodus whatsoever. Shavuot is defined as seven weeks after the early harvest begins (D16:9) and the festival involves the family and the indigent. In Lev. 23:15, the date of Shavuot is given as 7 weeks following the first Sunday following the pascal lamb and no elaborate celebration is mandated.

•Shemittah. In Deut 15:1 the definition of shmittah is about forgiving debts every seven years. In Lev 25:1 the law is about leaving the land fallow.

•Jewish bondsman. D 15:12 says that an eved ivri works for 6 years, and gets to go free after the 6 years, while Lev 25:40 frees him at yovel . Also, in Deut (and in Exodus 21:6) the text says that a recalcitrant eved stays employed forever. In Lev 25:39 implies that all go free at yovel.

•Forbidden animals

The laws governing animals that may be eaten are given in Lev. 11:1-47 and repeated D 14:3-21 with a fairly detailed and similar description of the laws governing which animals (including birds, insects and fish) are forbidden to be eaten.

Aside from the major issue of how to explain the seemingly trivial textual variations between the two passages, the few notable major differences between D & Lev. (but not necessarily out right contradictions) in law are:
1.D 14:19 makes a statement that seems to be a blanket ban on all flying insects or however one translates the phrase “sheretz ha-oif”, while Lev. differentiates and gives criteria for those permissible insects.
2.Both D and Lev., in addition to forbidding eating these animals, also forbid the touching of carcasses of unclean animals. However Lev, then introduces a new set of laws that the touching of such animals induces a state of Ta-amei for the person and his clothes, requiring mikvah purification for them. D does not seem to care.
3.Carcasses of Animals. D 14:21 says they may sold to non-Jews. While Exodus 22:14 states they must “be thrown to the dogs” implying no permission to sell.

•Blood. D 12:24 states that blood is forbidden to be consumed and must be poured away, with no distinction made for domestic or wild animals, while Lev 17:13 states that for wild (kosher) animals the blood is to be covered.

•Cities of refuge. Deut 19:1-10 and Num 35:9-28 both define was is essentially the same law. A person inadvertently killing another is sent to exile in 6 special cities. Aside from the fact that the language and terminology differ markedly in the 2 passages and a literal reading of the 2 texts seem to imply differing conditions under which the law is applicable, there are 2 clear contradictions. In N, the BY are told to build (or assign) 6 cities 3 on each side of the Jordan. important as opposed to only 3 cities in D. In D, the parameter for the refuge seems to be as a result of a pure accident, less so in N. Also, N the murderer can leave the city when the Kohen godol dies. No such freedom is accorded in D.

•Levite Cities. In Num 35:1-8, the Torah commands that 42 cities be set aside for habitation by the tribe of Levi. Deut 18:1 goes out of its way to again command that no land be given to the Levites. If D had the same mitzvah of 42 cities for the Levites, it would be a good place to mention it.

•The Kohen’s due. D 18:3-5 assigns exactly what the Kohen is get from the offerings on the altar and from BY’s crops. The items so designated are but a fraction of what is due to the Kohanin as defined in Leviticus and Numbers. (in many, many places)

•Definition of a Kohen. D 18:5-6 states that Kohanim were from all of Levi and that any Levite can apply to become a Kohen. Rof C repeatedly states that only the direct descendants of Aaron may serve as Kohanim. (see Ex 40:15, Num 18:7, 25:13….).

•Torah Study. D (6:7 & 11:19) commands that BY teach their children “these words”. No such command is found in Rof C, and teaching of the Torah seems relegated to the Kohanim and leadership.

•Tzitzit. In D (22:12) the mitzvah is placing “twisted threads” (artscroll’s translation) only on 4-corners of your clothing or only on 4-cornered clothes. In Num 15:37+, the mitzvah is “fringes” on the corner of all one's garments, not limiting it to only 4 cornered clothes.

•Shatneiz. D 22:10, the Torah forbids wearing shatneiz and expressly defines it as a combination of wool and linen. In Lev 19:19 literally, one might say the text refers to all mixed combinations.

•Similar distinction for “Kelei-im. In D 22:8, its limited to the vineyard. no such limitation in Lev. 19:19

•Shotgun wedding. In D, it’s a result of rape. In Ex. 22:15, it’s a result of seduction.

•Interest on Loans. D 23:20 states that it is forbidden to charge interest on loans to your fellow Jew while both Ex 22:24 and Lev. 25:36 imply that this restriction of charging interest is only on loans made to the poor.

•Amalek. Deut 25:17-19 commands BY to remember forever what happened with Amalek in the wilderness and that BY “wipe out the memory of Amalek”. No such command appears in the R of C and this whole passage makes no sense in light of verse Ex. 17:14 where God promises to “wipe out the memory of Amalek.