Human beings as offerings. That theme keeps coming up in these chapters. There’s this hint of human sacrifice – God could ask you to kill your firstborn; he did it to the Egyptians, after all. He spared yours, you owe him.Before, there was the ritual of offering the firstborn and paying money and so forth, but here the Levites are depicted as somehow replacing even that (though I know dedicating the firstborn son is still a rite in Judaism). God takes the Levites in place of taking the firstborn.But when God takes people as offerings, he doesn’t want them dead, he wants them in service. And maybe it’s significant that the prayer I’ve decided to use for a while here is St. Francis of Assissi’s, where he prays that God “make me an instrument of your peace.” While the Levites here are serving God in a ritual sense, by maintaining the tabernacle and assisting the priests, we in general are called to serve God in other ways.Helping others. Cultivating a sense of thankfulness. Living a good life.The liturgy surrounding the offering at my church always makes note of how we really must offer everything – “our selves, our time, our possessions.” I think that selves is important. Maybe it’s my exposure to Buddhism talking here, but we cling a lot to “self,” to a sense of complete autonomy rather than a sense of connection to God and to others. There’s such a strong sense of community and people in the Torah, and even when the elements of how that community is formed – excluding others, labeling some “unclean” or even abominations – I don’t think it’s at all wrong to admire the power of connection. It’s something I will open admit I envy about being Jewish, the way that ethnicity and religion tie together, the knowledge that my great-great-great..[x100]..great-grandfather was there.Maybe I should get more connected with my own ethnic heritage somehow. America tends to try to scrub that off you, and coming from Germans doesn’t help given some of our awful deeds. But my own family… I’ve always wanted to know how we came over to America, what we did back in Europe, whether my Mom’s side is really Czech (my cousin’s theory based on our surname).Maybe my sense of disconnection from God is because I don’t know entirely who this “self” is that I need to be offering up.Just thoughts for now, but something I want to consider more as I read.
The Japanese: furikakaru “to happen, to befall” (v 19), douzoku “same family/tribe,” keigo “bodyguard, escort” (v 26).