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The Relevance of the Irrelevant

Parashat Pekudei Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
The Relevance of the Irrelevant
Caught somewhere between the slavery narrative of the Book of Exodus and the wilderness stories of the Book of Numbers, lies the vast expanse (dare I say ‘wasteland’) of technical details of Leviticus. The construction of the Tabernacle, the detailing of the Priestly garments, the instructions on how to perform the sacrificial cult and – to top it all of with – the purity laws regulating conduct around bodily fluids, secretions, corpses, insects and weird types of house mold: great fun!
Usually, when we are presented with such difficult, grating or dull texts, we have a few hermeneutical options—that is, ways to interpret said texts so that we can make sense of them.
Our first option would be to ignore the text. We’re just not going to talk about all that icky, boring, irrelevant stuff. However, this is neither intellectually nor spiritually satisfying. We can’t just ignore whole swaths of our tradition just becau…