Sunday, January 24, 2016

Parshat Korach, 7th Portion, (Numbers 18:21-18:20), 7/9/2016

The inheritance for the Levis is that they get a tithe from the other Israelites for their service in the temple. From that, they give a proportion to Aaron, the priest/Cohen, who is in charge.

What is given is called Terumah, which means parsha. This is also the name of a particular part of the Torah (Exodus 25:1-27:19). It is also the name for the weekly parts of the Torah.

The Torah is the offering from God to Moses. The study of the Torah replaced the offerings after the destruction of the second temple. The priests were replaced by rabbis. The study and living of the Torah became the practice of Judaism.

Interesting how we give money to the temple, and the temple gives money to the rabbis. It is a parallel relationship where the Levis gave to the Cohens.

In the same way, we don't pay teachers directly, but rather pay money to the schools (or further removed, pay taxes in the case of public schools). I suppose there is some advantage here, because the teachers/priest have a certain freedom not being employees of the people. The degree of separation sounds healthy.

Different systems of taxation have different advantages and disadvantages. One could defend the idea that everyone give a fixed amount because the services that are delivered might be similar. Or one could defend the idea that the wealthy pay a larger percentage since they have so much money. Hence we have Bernie Sanders who wants to reduce the income gap or Donald Trump who doesn't see the income gap as a problem.

I understand that tithing is not to be confused with generosity. It is not a gift. Rather, it is an obligation. Giving is what is done beyond tithing. It is extra.

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