Fat & Blood. Leviticus 3

Zevach shelamim, the sacrifice of well-being, comes next, following on the sharing, and anticipating the festive meal which will be amplified in chapter 7.  Today, stay at your virtual altar with me.  Zevach shared the etymological root of ‘slaughter’, and shelamim shared the root of ‘shalom’ or ‘peace’.  It’s more than a ‘peace offering’, or tip for or payoff to God or cult.  It is sacrifice. 

We are back to killing animals here.  This is in addition to olah, and for an additional motive of seeking ‘shalom’.  Work through what is being burnt up.  I summarize it as fat and blood, the choice and juicy bits loved by Jack Spratt’s wife: fat, kidneys, and the tail of mid-eastern sheep, a delicacy often running to ten pounds. 

We’ll get back to blood in chapter 17, and we’ll have to believe that kosher butchers know how to distinguish acceptable shuman fat from prohibited chelev.  Sometimes we get so fixed on the prohibited, that we neglect the permitted.  Most of the animal is being shared with the priests and through them, the community. 

This bit is perhaps even less appealing than Monday’s, for those with the imagination to visualize the slaughter.  The grossest bits are being flung at a smoking altar, the fat and the blood.  Have you been barbequing lately?  Does it mean you’re offering the leftovers, the awful offal, to God?  The cultural gulf is too great for me to leap.

Beyond your big precious gestures, and your routine giving and sharing, can your recognize this kind of sacrifice of well-being in your own practice?  What to you offer up, in blood, sweat and tears, for the sake of something greater than a quid pro quo transaction of ‘give and take’, in a market economy.  Anything?
 

Leviticus 3

1 If the offering is a sacrifice of well-being, if you offer an animal of the herd, whether male or female, you shall offer one without blemish before the Lord. 
 
2 You shall lay your hand on the head of the offering and slaughter it at the entrance of the tent of meeting; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall dash the blood against all sides of the altar. 

3 You shall offer from the sacrifice of well-being, as an offering by fire to the Lord, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is around the entrails;

4 the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the appendage of the liver,  which he shall remove with the kidneys. 
 
5 Then Aaron’s sons shall turn these into smoke on the altar, with the burnt-offering that is on the wood on the fire, as an offering by fire of pleasing odour to the Lord.
 
6 If your offering for a sacrifice of well-being to the Lord is from the flock, male or female, you shall offer one without blemish.
 
7 If you present a sheep as your offering, you shall bring it before the Lord
 
8and lay your hand on the head of the offering. It shall be slaughtered before the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons shall dash its blood against all sides of the altar. 
 
9 You shall present its fat from the sacrifice of well-being, as an offering by fire to the Lord:
 the whole broad tail, which shall be removed close to the backbone, the fat that covers the entrails, and all the fat that is around the entrails; 
 
10 the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the appendage of the liver, 
which you shall remove with the kidneys. 
 
11 Then the priest shall turn these into smoke on the altar as a food-offering by fire to the Lord.
 
12 If your offering is a goat, you shall bring it before the Lord
 
13 and lay your hand on its head; it shall be slaughtered before the tent of meeting; and the sons of Aaron shall dash its blood against all sides of the altar.
 
14 You shall present as your offering from it, as an offering by fire to the Lord, the fat that covers the entrails, and all the fat that is around the entrails; 
 
15 the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the appendage of the liver, 
which you shall remove with the kidneys.
 
16 Then the priest shall turn these into smoke on the altar as a food-offering by fire for a pleasing odour. All fat is the Lord’s.
 
17 It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, in all your settlements: you must not eat any fat or any blood.