A certain textual image stood out to me when reading this week’s parsha. On multiple occasions the text says that one may not eat the blood of various sacrifices, and that the blood should be “poured away like water” (12:16, 23-4, and 15:23). This struck me as being a wholly unfit image to use to convey the message behind the words. The reason given in the text for why blood cannot be eaten is that the soul or spirit of the creature resides in the blood – we might use the term ‘life force’ today. Given that rationale, it may make sense to dispose of the blood of sacrifices, as it cannot be consumed. However, the phrasing used implies that it be treated as sewage water, not something sacred. When I hear the words ‘blood flowing/poured like water’ I see a battlefield. To me, the practice being commanded in the text is one promoting the sanctity of human (and non-human animal, if to a lesser extent) life, whereas the imagery of the phrase is very violent.
Pour blood like water
Though it be sacred to you