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Leviticus Chapter 17
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Slaughtering Animals
17:1 God spoke to Moses, telling him to
17:2 speak to Aaron, his sons, and the [other] Israelites, telling them that the following is literally what God commanded:
17:3 If any member of the family of Israel sacrifices an ox, sheep or goat, whether in the camp or outside the camp,
17:4 and does not bring it to the Communion Tent to be offered as a sacrifice to God before His sanctuary, that person is considered a murderer. That person has committed an act of murder, and he shall be cut off [spiritually] from among his people.
17:5 The Israelites shall thus take the sacrifices that they are offering in the fields, and bring them to God, to the Communion Tent entrance, [where they are given] to the priest. They can then be offered as peace offerings to God.
17:6 The priest will then dash the blood on God's altar at the Communion Tent's entrance, and burn the choice parts as an appeasing fragrance to God.
17:7 The Israelites will then stop sacrificing to the demons who [continue to] tempt them. This shall be an eternal law for them for all generations.
17:8 [Also] tell them that if any person, whether from the family of Israel or a proselyte who joins them, prepares a burnt offering or other sacrifice,
17:9 and does not bring it to the Communion Tent to present it to God, that person shall be cut off [spiritually] from his people.
17:10 If any person, whether of the family of Israel or a proselyte who joins them, eats any blood, I will direct My anger against the person who eats blood and cut him off [spiritually] from among his people.
17:11 This is because the life-force of the flesh is in the blood; and I therefore gave it to you to be [placed] on the altar to atone for your lives. It is the blood that atones for a life,
17:12 and I therefore told the Israelites, 'Let none of you eat blood.' A proselyte who joins you shall [likewise] not eat blood.
17:13 If any man, whether of the family of Israel or a proselyte who joins them, traps an animal or bird that may be eaten and spills its blood, he must cover [the blood] with earth.
17:14 [All this] is because every living creature has its blood associated with its life-force. Tell the Israelites not to eat any blood, since the life-force of all flesh is in its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off [spiritually].
17:15 If any person, whether native born or a proselyte, eats a creature which has died on its own and which [is forbidden only because it] has a fatal lesion, he must immerse his clothes and his body in a mikvah. He then remains unclean until evening, whereupon he is clean.
17:16 If he does not immerse his clothing and body, then he can bear his guilt.



Commentary:

God spoke...
  This completes the laws of sacrifice and the sanctuary.

sacrifices
  (Rashi). This commandment forbids any sacrifice outside the Tabernacle or Temple (Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 90). In the desert, it was a general prohibition against killing any animal except as a peace offering (Ramban; see Deuteronomy 12:15,21).

murderer
  For killing the animal (Ramban; Bachya; Chinukh 186; cf. Rashi; Targum Yonathan). Literally, 'Blood shall be counted for that man; he has spilled blood.' Some say that it is like eating blood (Abarbanel; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

cut off spiritually
  See Genesis 17:14; Bachya on Leviticus 18:29).

demons
  Even if the motive is not idolatrous, but merely to gain occult powers (Sforno). Since it was permitted to send the goat to Azazel (Leviticus 16:8), the Torah specifically warned that this does not mean that sacrifices to the forces of evil are permitted (cf. Moreh Nevukhim 3:46).

eternal law
  Not to sacrifice to demons (Ralbag; Sforno). This also teaches that even when the Temple is not standing, it is forbidden to sacrifice elsewhere. That is why, now that the Temple is destroyed, no sacrifices are offered.

prepares
  Or 'burns' (Saadia). This forbids the burning of a sacrifice (even a meal offering) any place but in the Tabernacle or Temple (Rashi).

direct My anger
  (Targum; Saadia; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). Literally, 'I will set my face....'

the life-force...
  This is because the blood brings life to all parts of the body. The blood is also responsible for man's animal nature, through the hormones, as opposed to man's human nature, which is transmitted through nerve impulses. Since it is man's animal nature which leads him to sin, the blood is an atonement.

I therefore told...
  See Leviticus 7:26.

must cover...
  This is a commandment to cover the blood of all birds and wild animals ( Chullin 87a; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Positive 147).

died on its own
  Nevelah in Hebrew. This is any animal that is not ritually slaughtered.

which is forbidden...
  (Sifra; Rashi; Yad, Avoth HaTumah 3:1; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). See Leviticus 11:40. According to tradition, this is speaking of a kosher bird (which is forbidden only when terefah, with a fatal lesion) which was not ritually slaughtered. Above, there is no uncleanness associated with such a bird, and it does not defile unless swallowed (Ibid).

he can...
  If he enters the sanctuary or eats any sacrifice (Rashi; see Leviticus 15:31).





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