Why the High Priest Is Not Allowed to Mourn

He is dehumanized, his life circumscribed by the need to achieve perfect purity and be a vessel for the forgiveness of the people’s sins.



From The Blossoming of Aaron’s Rod, an etching by Augustin Hirschvogel, ca. 1553. National Gallery of Art.
From The Blossoming of Aaron’s Rod, an etching by Augustin Hirschvogel, ca. 1553. National Gallery of Art.
Atar Hadari
Observation
May 19 2016
About the author

Atar Hadari’s Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award. His Lives of the Dead: Poems of Hanoch Levin earned a PEN Translates award and was released in 2019 by Arc Publications. He was ordained by Rabbi Daniel Landes and is completing a PhD on William Tyndale’s translation of Deuteronomy.


But the Lord told Moses, Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron Tell them not to be contaminated by a soul Of their people, all but their nearest and dearest— Their mother and father and son and daughter and brother, Their unmarried sister, for her he can become impure; But for some notable among his people he won’t become impure, or desecrate himself. They shan’t leave a bald spot on their heads or shave the tip of their beard Nor mutilate their flesh when they mourn; they’ll be preserved for their God And won’t desecrate the name of their God. . . . For he’s offering the daily bread to your God, He’ll be sacred to Me because I’m sacred, I’m the Lord who makes you sacred.

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More about: Aaron, High priest, Religion & Holidays, The Monthly Portion