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yesh omrim

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Otherwise, it would be a very very long seven days

8 April 2004

At the end of last week’s parshah, Moses tells Aaron and his sons “you shall stay at the opening of the Tent of Meeting, day and night, for seven days” (Leviticus 5:35). On reading that, my wife asked: so if they were eating all of those sacrifices as part of the inauguration service, and they had to stay in front of the tent for a week, how did they go to the bathroom?

Fortunately for us, Ibn Ezra asked the same question (s.v. 5:33), answering it thusly:

There are those who say that they did not leave for seven days, and they attended to their bodily functions at night. But the proper reading, in my opinion, is that they went out at whatever they needed, day and night. A great scholar said that they dug a latrine in the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting, but this is distant [this reading of the text is far from reasonable, or this latrine would have to be far from the tent? —sethg]. Scripture says, “The children of Israel wept for Moses [after his death] for thirty days” (Deuteronomy 34:8), as if there were no minute in which they were not crying [which is obviously not the case], but Scripture [in the parsha before us] says that they were staying at the opening of the Tent of Meeting day and night, meaning that they did not become preoccupied with anything, and they did not go to another place. Likewise “he shall not leave the Temple” (Leviticus 21:12), as I shall explain [in my commentary there].