Why Does the Bible Have No Word for “Ritual”?

April 28 2016

Although the Hebrew Bible is very much concerned with rituals, the word itself (along with ceremony and rite), rarely occur in the standard English translations. Moreover, there is no word in biblical Hebrew that is the precise equivalent of any of these terms. Peter Leithart speculates about the reason:

A great deal of the Pentateuch, after all, is concerned with what theologians call “ceremonial law,” what we would instinctively identify as “ritual” matters. . . . [T]he lack of a specific biblical vocabulary of “ritual” raises the suspicion that the Bible does not isolate ritual as a distinct sort of activity in the way that we do. In anthropological theories of ritual, it is often assumed that ritual activities are symbolic and expressive forms of action, distinct from the functional and pragmatic activities of daily life. Almost by definition, “ritual” has come to mean “merely symbolic” or “non-functional.” The fact that the Bible does not employ a distinct vocabulary of ritual suggests that it assumes continuities between ritual and other types of activity that moderns find hard to grasp.

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Read more at First Things

More about: Biblical Hebrew, Hebrew Bible, Jewish ritual, Religion & Holidays, Torah

What to Expect from the Israeli Election

Sept. 16 2019

Tomorrow Israelis go to the polls for the second election of 2019, in which the two main contenders will be the Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the centrist Blue and White, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. Neither party is likely to have an easy path to forming the 61-seat Knesset majority needed to form a government, a reality that has affected both parties’ campaigns. Haviv Rettig Gur explains how the anomalous political situation has led to something very different from the contest between left-wing and right-wing “blocs” of parties predicted by most analysts, and examines the various possible outcomes:

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Avigdor Liberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics