The animalistic gullet and the godlike soul: Reframing sacrifice in Midrash Leviticus Rabbah

Mira Balberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article proposes an analysis of two homiletic units in the Palestinian Midrash Leviticus Rabbah, which revolve around biblical chapters pertaining to sacrifices. A theme that pervades these units is that of eating as an animalistic activity that often entails moral depravity. In contrast, the act of sacrificing is constructed in these units as one in which one is willing to give up one's own nourishment, and in a sense one's own "soul", in order to offer it to God. Many of the motifs used to vilify eating in the Midrash can be traced in moralistic Greek, Roman, and early Christian diatribes preaching for moderation in eating or for asceticism; the homilists in Leviticus Rabbah, however, utilize these popular motifs in order to present sacrifice as the spiritual contrary of eating, and thus to give the obsolete practice of sacrifice cultural cachet and compelling meanings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-247
Number of pages27
JournalAJS Review
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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