Parshat Emor: Cosmos and History

Mircea Eliade, a leading scholar of religions during the twentieth century, contrasted two conceptions of time. Cosmic time is circular whereas historical time is progressive. The cosmic conception of time was prevalent in ancient times and reflected the world of nature in which the seasons reoccur each year. Despite being a fascist anti-Semite, Eliade credited Judaism with the conception of historical time. However, as Franz Rosenswieg notes it is more accurate to define Jewish conception of time as being like a spiral staircase– both circular and progressing upwards.

A careful study of the Jewish holidays in Pashat Emor validates this more complex approach.