Ibn Ezra

Ibn Ezra: Life Blood (Acharei Mot)

The Torah Text

In the midst of discussing the proper ritual of animal sacrifice, the Torah pauses and emphasizes at length (five verses!) how in any situation one should not consume blood, because blood is life.

Ibn Ezra’s Teaching

דמו בנפשו. הוא דבק עם הנפש כי ידוע שהגידים היוצאים מפאת שמאל הלב מחולקים בחצי לדם ולרוח כדמות שמן זית עם האור

Leviticus 17:14 FOR THE LIFE OF ALL FLESH – ITS BLOOD IS ITS LIFE. The blood is coupled with the life thereof, for it is know that the threads that go our from the left side of the heart are divided, half for blood and half for the breath, like the olive oil and the light thereof. (Translation Strickman and Silver)

Reflections for the Path

What a beautiful image – just like olive oil provides the fuel for a candle flame, which without the oil would quickly disappear, so too blood provides the base liquid that connects us to our essential breath. Breath, of course, like a flame, are present yet somewhat intangible. It is the olive oil and the blood that we can touch, and therefore potentially make impure. Just like the holy flames need pure olive oil, blood must not be tampered with – especially consumed as if it were just another source of animal nourishment.

For more on Abraham ibn Ezra:
1. Read my introduction.
2. Listen to ibn Ezra’s opening prayer poem for his Torah commentary.
3. Explore the five paths, ibn Ezra’s introduction to his Torah commentary.

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