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In B'midbar (Numbers) 8.11 we read that "Aaron shall lift up the Levites as a waving before the Lord on behalf of the children of Israel...." What exactly is this "lifting up and waving?" How were the Levites "lifted up" and waived" before HaShem? Bmidbar (Numbers) 8.11?

I read Rashi's commentary: Then Aaron shall lift up the Levites as a waving: in the same way that the guilt-offering of one afflicted with tzara’ath requires waving [the animal] while it is alive. Three wavings are mentioned in this section: the first (verse 11) refers to the sons of Kohath, and for this reason it states with regard to them, “that they may serve in the Lord’s service,” since they were responsible for the work involving the most holy objects-the ark, the table, etc. The second (verse 13) refers to the sons of Gershon. Therefore, it is stated with regard to them,“a waving before the Lord” (verse 13), for even they were assigned holy work-the curtains and the clasps, which could be seen in the Holy of Holies. The third [waving] was for the sons of Merari (verse 14). - [Midrash Aggadah] 16

Is this a wave offering [?] as in, "And the priest shall take one of the he-lambs, and offer him for a guilt-offering, and the log of oil, and wave them for a wave-offering before the LORD." VaYiqra (Leviticus) 14.12

Perhaps the question should be rephrased as "was this waving and lifting-up somehow connected with a wave-offering?" given Rashi's comment above, related to "the guilt-offering of one afflicted with tzara’ath [which] requires waving [the animal] while it is alive."

  • I don’t understand the question. How were they waved? Moshe literally picked them up and waved them around. What’s the question? Is there a connection between this “waving” and the various other times “waving” is mentioned? – DonielF May 28 '18 at 1:18
  • @YochananMauritzHummasti I read Rashi as describing the fact that Moshe picked them up and waved them in the same way that the animal was literally picked up and moved in the various directions. – sabbahillel May 28 '18 at 3:27
  • @ sabbahillel In B'midbar (Numbers) 8.11 we read that "Aaron shall lift up...." Not "Moshe picked them up...." explain please your reference to Moshe rather than Aaron. – Yochanan Mauritz Hummasti May 28 '18 at 3:46
  • @YochananMauritzHummasti sabbahillel must be referring to verse 13 where Hashem commands Moshe - also if you want to ping someone do not put a space after @ – mbloch May 28 '18 at 5:44
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You ask "was [the Levi] waving and lifting-up somehow connected with a wave-offering?" based on Rashi's comment "in the same way that the guilt-offering of one afflicted with tzara’ath requires waving [the animal] while it is alive".

Here is how I would explain the connection

  • a metzora (one affected with tzaarat) had to undergo a purification process once healed. That involved shaving all his air, bathing in water and staying in his tent seven days (see Vayikra 14:8).

  • in our parasha, the Torah tells us how the Levites had to undergo a purification procedure similar to the metzora (explains Rashi to Bamidbar 8:7: because the Levites were serving in the Mishkan as atonement for the idol worship of the golden calf and both idol worship and the metzora are connected to death in various verses)

  • this is why Rashi connects both the waving of the Levi with the waving of the metzora's offering.

We see a similar analogy a verse before (8:10) where the community of Israel leans their hands on the Levites. Artscroll brings Divrei David (a commentary of Rashi by the Taz) who explains the Levites bodies were viewed as offerings on behalf of the entire nation of Israel (since they were chosen to assist in the Temple instead of all firstborns [Bamidbar 3:12]). Thus the entire nation served in the role of the owner of an offering who stands next to his sacrifice and leans his hands upon it.

  • this still does not answer my question: were the Levites or an animal sacrifice brought in their name "lifted up and waved" as a wave offering? I don't see Aaron & Moshe literally picking up each and every Levite and waving them before HaShem! – Yochanan Mauritz Hummasti May 28 '18 at 19:29
  • The first two comments to your question above already answered they did. The Malbim comments on the impressive strength and stamina it took to do it. I thought you had rephrased your question at the end of it since you had already got the answer to the question in your title – mbloch May 28 '18 at 19:53

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