Monday, August 2, 2010


It seems that this week's parasha is focused on making sure that the Israelites behave differently once they enter the land that has been promised to them, giving up some of the autonomy they have had in the desert. One of the most important issues, judging from the emphasis it is given, is the centralization of worship.  In the context of the times, this means sacrifices will have to be limited to the central location yet-to-be-named, under the supervision of the priests in that place, and according to the exact specifications set out in the text.
If this is a correct interpretation, there are some questions I would like to ask:

  • Is this centralization of practice only mandatory within the limits of the land of Israel?  Are those living outside still entitled according to this text to have differences of practice among, within and between groups of Jews?
  • Does this text support the control of Jewish practice within Israel by a single rabbinic authority?  If the answer is yes, then whose responsibility is it to determine which authority shall be in charge?
  • Is there consideration to those who may at one time in their lives be within the land and at other times outside?
  • Did the destruction of the two Temples erase this requirement of centralization?
  • In the world in which we live today is it possible or desirable to have only one way to be Jewish?
  • And the age-old question, which can be asked about anything:  Is it good for the Jews?  Or is it bad for the Jews?
Here are a couple of articles which discuss this issue.  

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