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EMOR--LEVITICUS 21:1-24:23
A study of the reading by Yaakov Fogelman,
who lectures on Torah and Zionism

This study is brought to by Robert and Susan Mednick of Chicago and Jerusalem, in memory of Nettie Mednick, whose Yahrtzeit is on the second day of Shavuot in the Diaspora.




In K'doshim, last week's reading, God gave Israel, His "kingdom of priests and holy nation" (Ex. 19:6), 70 laws; they encompass all realms of life. This week, in Emor, He first focuses on rules specifically for cohanim, priests within Israel, God's kingdom of priests. The preceding readings stressed the intriguing mystery of sexuality and life; this week, we confront the frightening mystery of death, often preceded by the death of sexual union. I saw a T-shirt, on which was printed: "I don't mind the fast pace of life, just that it suddenly stops". In K'doshim, last week's reading, God gave Israel, His "kingdom of priests and holy nation" (Ex. 19:6), 70 laws; they encompass all realms of life. This week, in Emor, He first focuses on rules specifically for cohanim, priests within Israel, God's kingdom of priests. The preceding readings stress the intriguing mystery of sexuality and life; this week, we confront the frightening mystery of death, often preceded by the death of sexual union. A T-shirt broadcast the message: "I don't mind the fast pace of life, just that it suddenly stops".

Life stems from the earth, from which we, as Adam, are continually sustained and recreated; but the earth is "UNDER", dependent upon, the sun-- all vegetation requires photosynthesis; we dig into the earth to plant seeds for our food and conquer it with our metropolises. Earth has the final victory, however, when it receives the body of the highest life form-- Man, potential image of God Himself: "How long will you judge wickedly... I said that you are (to be) Divine powers, and all of you sons of the Most High; in truth, you will die, like earth-man, fall like one of the princes (Ps. 82)". "...and there is no (ultimate) superiority for man under the sun (Ecc. 2:11)". "Don't place your faith (even) in princes, in a human being, who holds no salvation-- when his spirit departs, he returns to his earth; on that day all his plans perish. Fortunate is he whose hope is in... God, His Lord, Creator of heaven and earth... " (Psalm 146-- see James Michener's gripping and inspiring vignettes of nature, and man's response to it, "Creatures of the Kingdom"; visit Jerusalem's Botanical Garden, now in bloom).

Each high impact human experience of sexuality-- the origin of life, and of death-- its departure, remains but a meaningless dot in the seemingly endless printout of biological existence, unless linked to that beyond the earth, even BEYOND THE SUN. One must, however, live in this world, UNDER THE SUN, and develop it-- especially the human body-- as a vessel for God's Presence: "It follows that a healthy and sound body is in God's path, for it is impossible to understand or grasp knowledge of the Creator if one is sick. So it is important to remove oneself from things that injure the body, and to accustom oneself to things which are healthy and sustaining"-- Rambam (M. T. Daot 4:1).

How can allegedly pious roshei yeshiva and yeshiva students smoke and eat junk food?-- some otherwise very pious folks even give kids cigarettes at weddings, as a treat; the judges of the Badatz openly smoke in front of their followers, a model for sickness and suicide (tho Rav Dushinski, who has now stopped, warned his followers not to emulate him). Rambam himself was quite ill in his later years, when he wrote "The Guide"; he was severely depressed, not functioning, for a year, when his younger half-brother died at sea (Rav J. Soloveichik was similarly affected by the death of his wife)-- can we trust Rambam's judgement, per his own criteria?

REASON & REVELATION: Emor deals with the constant tension between body and soul, between heaven and earth, as well as their interrelationship-- via priests, sacrifices, and holidays. We likewise try to harmonize our so limited hearts and minds with the infinite and ultimately UNKNOWABLE Word of God; this is why we "explain", not just obey, mitzvos, per Rav J. B. Soloveichik-- I express how I personally EXPERIENCE them. Rambam prefers that talmudic view which advocates such explanation, over those of other rabbis, who see mitzvos as unexplainable, and give up the attempt to understand their messages (which may lead them, or their descendants, to give up mitzvos altogether-- cf. Hirschian, Hassidic, and Misnagadic approaches). As most scientists, most expert talmudists are more concerned with WHAT are God's Laws and HOW they work, not WHY.

But understanding purposes of the law may affect its application-- Rav J. Soloveichik urged those who shave daily to do likewise on Chol Hamoed, when trimming of beards and haircuts is otherwise prohibited, lest one not do so before the holiday and enter the holiday disheveled; the opposite will happen if they do not shave then; whenever Sefer Hachinuch describes a mitzva, he, as Rambam (see Guide III), also tries to guess its reasons. He sees his own worthy function as revealing hidden depths of the talmud, which constantly rationalized God's Word, "glimpsing thru the lattice" (Song of Songs 2:9; Mitzva 159).

Yet all such rationalizations remain tentative guesses- as modern scientific theory, they are always subject to revision. Each age approaches the Torah with its unique outlook; Modernists, e.g. Rabbis Shadal, Yichya Kapach, Hirsch and Malbim, are often far more relevant to our concerns and outlooks than famous medieval commentators; yet some medieval leaders, e.g. Meiri & Abarbanel, are more modern than east European pre-WWII G'dolim. Jewish Law, Divine, does not change- our response to it, as its application to changing facts, does. In that spirit, let's try to unify our thoughts and feelings with Emor, remembering: "He made everything beautiful in its time. He has also placed the world in their hearts, save that man should not find out the work which the Lord has wrought, from beginning to end (Ecc. 3:11- but he might discover a bit of the middle!). Where were you when I founded the earth?- tell- if you really know that insight (with which I founded it, the Torah- Job 38:4; cf. Prov. 3:19).

Rav M. Gafni explored the Ishbitz approach to the problem of asserting that God is all good, aware, concerned, powerful and loving, while experiencing a world constantly filled with so much horror and suffering, often with no apparent Divine intervention. In a world where God's presence is concealed, outright proclamations of Providence, subject to empirical rational verification, are out of place, won't work. A famous, once Orthodox, Jerusalem rabbi even denies personal providence. Indeed, one cannot reach true reconciliation with God until he/she expresses her anger with the state of things. But, asserts the Ishbitzer, after living that anger, a quiet whisper, l'chisha, enters one where, despite all, he feels God's love and concern- the cohanim are to proclaim this whisper, as does human love and music. The Berditchiver Rav, Levi Yitzchak, begins his famous court case with God by reciting all his complaints about the injustice of life, and ends with awe of love of You, Who is everywhere and in everything. It is just he, who is in relation to God or a significant other, who must voice his anger and disappointment. A secularist has no hope or expectations ab initio from this world- if things go OK (in the end they don't, for all die) for a while, it's just good luck; when they don't, well, that's how the cookie crumbles. Rav Gafni also spoke of Jerusalem neighborhood ambiances- everything must be profound in the German Colony, all must be love and joy in Nachalot or Bat Ayin.

Nothing encourages a critical approach to life and learning more than Talmud. Nothing stresses absolute faith in God's Word and Law more than Talmud. This seeming paradox challenges Torah scholars (does faith, the conviction that I am right about something, contradict humility, the notion that I can not be sure that I am right?). Some focus their keen critical faculty only on technical talmudic and halachic process, repressing it in evaluating their own society and basic beliefs; this may breed frustration and anger, fighting the non-believer within, while ostensibly combating the infidel without. Virulent argument against others' beliefs often masks a lack of one's own inner conviction.

But an exaggerated critical stance reflects an exaggerated sense of one's ability to attain truth and knowledge, following one's eyes and heart against traditions that have survived and bred viable and dynamic Jewish society for 1000's of years, despite great adversity (see E.). The Word of God cannot be equated with that of man, even that of holy man. True faith may come from a gradual realization that all our important conclusions are at best probabilities, rather than mathematical certainties, that God takes over when we've done our best, and that the honest pursuit of truth, in both Torah and worldly knowledge, tho it leads to greater and greater insight, must conclude with the humble realization that so much more remains hidden. Reasonable folks trust that which has been successfully tried and tested, and go on to new explorations, in their all too brief productive lifetimes; if each generation would reject all that came before it and start anew, chaos and regression would replace progress (cf. the Russian and Chinese Revolutions).

The true experience of God may, indeed, be more a result of developing a Divine personality and good deeds, than of exercising keen intellect. All can cleave to God by cleaving to the Godly, especially their own inherently holy wives (unless de-feminized by Westernization), sole determinants of their children's Jewishness. Even reading books about great folks, such as "A Tzadik In Our Time", "The Diary of Anne Frank", and "Life and Death in Shanghai", can inspire one to greatness.

We acquire true spirituality by absorbing God's Dual Objective Revelation-- Torah and Science (Lev. 9:6, M. T. Y. H. 2:2); Re-formed Jewish Renewal Rabbi Z. Schachter overstresses subjective ecstasy (cf. Nadav and Avihu) in his otherwise valuable exposure of dry, rote, narrow and self-serving piety. Touchy-feely Poetry and Agada must not replace science and halacha. He also errs in equating conformity to Torah and society with spiritual morbidity ("In Jerusalem", 4.15.94; see his video at TOP); many inspired and inspiring "establishment" Israeli Zionist rabbis, e.g. Adler, Fendel, Gold, Lau, and Riskin, and their fine stable families, belie Schacter's claim that Israel lacks spiritual leadership; they too appreciate female spiritual power, but in its natural setting, the private home-Temple, rather than the public male minyan.


Last week's grand summary of Israel's task-- how to be a unique holy nation-- ends with a seemingly anticlimactic p.s.-- the death penalty for those who divine by conjuring up the dead. This theme carries over to Emor's first law of holiness for cohanim-- to avoid contact with the dead, which defiles them. Pagans, both ancient and modern, equate religion with preoccupation with death-- one only crowns God in the next world; some even focus on the death of their god! Jewish Holiness and holy people are far closer to life; God's immortal living word, the Torah, is primarily to guide us thru this world of free will. But our thrice daily primary prayers (Shemoneh Esrei) also proclaim 2 basic messages-- that God both kills and revives the dead! Isaiah (8:16-9:1) warns of murky messages from those who consult the dead-- their temporary influence will be replaced by the true eternal word of God (Hirsch; cf. Uman).


God SAID (mildly, Vayomer) to Moshe: SAY (emor) to the priests, THE SONS OF AHARON, AND SAY (v'amarta) TO THEM-- HE (the priest) shall not defile himself for a soul AMONG HIS PEOPLE (21:1-- i.e. when there are others to bury the dead). But an ordinary cohen MUST defile himself for his deceased wife, parents, children, brother, and VIRGIN sister (2-3); yet he may not do so for a wife whom he was forbidden to marry: a zonah (see E. III), a divorcee, or a woman born of such a union, forbidden to a cohen (a chalala), or who had sexual union with a disqualified cohen (chalal). NO GUILT OR FAULT OF THE FORBIDDEN WOMEN IS IMPLIED HERE-- these laws apply even to a rape victim. A reason to prohibit the "no-fault divorcee", but not the widow, to a cohen might be a divorced wife's lingering attachment to her ex-husband, who's still around, incompatible with the intense wifely devotion, and resultant emotional and spiritual security, needed by the cohen; the death of the divorced husband doesn't change the law, tho an ordinary cohen may marry a widow-- perhaps God wants no one to have a good reason to desire the ex-husband's death!

The possible tragic results of putting one's personal love and joy above commitment to one's spouse and children are powerfully portrayed in Cynthia Freeman's "Season's of the Heart"; she also portrays the common practice of adultery by married women, before obtaining their Jewish divorce, when they are alone with men other than their husband, in the course of their professions; the severe sin and the bastardry of any resulting offspring lead Rav Schachter to recommend questionable common law marriage, pilegish, rather than sanctifed marriage, k'dushin, for those whose halachic allegiance is weak.

"4 personalities abide in the bed of a divorced man who marries a divorced woman" (Pesachim 112a)!

R. Akiva thus advises Rashby not to marry a divorced woman, whose husband is alive; yet Akiva himself took Turnus Rufus' ex-wife as his #2 wife, after she failed to seduce him, and repented-- did his advice come from his own bad experience, as R. Gershom's prohibition on polygamy? Perhaps Turnus Rufus died before the marriage, or jetset Romans lacked true attachment to their spouses (A.Z. 20a, Ned. 50b); Mrs. TR may have given Akiva the money to buy for his #1 wife, Rachel, a gold Jerusalem diadem! Some rabbis even advise not marrying a widow. Yet Bruria's soulmate Yalta (Mrs. Nachman) urges those who crave the forbidden to enjoy it in a permitted manner, always possible in God's unlimited world-- e.g. he who craves pork will eat the brain of shibuta, a fish which tastes like pork (mullet or sturgeon); one with murderous impulses can be a ritual slaughterer; one inclined to adultery may marry a divorcee, whose husband is still alive (see Chulin 109b)! But even a cohen's own divorced wife is prohibited to him-- her sense of rejection may impair renewed commitment.

ALL Jews are barred from tattooing and from marring the body in mourning, or for idolatry (Deut. 14:1, Lev. 19:28-- Sefer Hachinuch discusses the perversity of such practices); pagans would put marks of death on their flesh, to stress that death conquers all life (Hirsch); these laws are repeated here, to the cohanim, to add details to the law (Rashi). Laws of shaving (Lev. 19:27) are also restated, to stress that only a razor (vs. scissors, depilatory, etc.) is prohibited (but some prohibit a very close scissors cut too). These laws, repeated here, may reflect the cohen's special role as a model of man's original and ultimate perfect state-- unmarred and eternal-- both in his person and his marriage, his extended person. Repetition of detail in Torah and life may also serve as intermissions, preparing us for the next crescendo in God's grand symphony.

The cohen must be extra holy, as he consumes "God's bread"-- he thereby transforms eating, so often a physical death & decay experience, into one of Divine eternal life. A priest's adulterous married daughter is to be executed by fire (see San. 51; cf. everyone's high expectations of a rabbi's kid). The HIGH priest may not render himself impure, nor observe mourning rites for ANYONE (he may not leave the temple service, even to attend his parent's funeral). He may marry only a virgin, but may consummate a marriage entered into with a non-virgin before his appointment (Mish. Yev. 59a).

Bodily defects, which disqualify a cohen from actual service, are listed-- but he may still receive priestly dues; a scholar, whose function is not pomp and circumstance, is not so disqualified! A cohen must show the possibility of combining physical and spiritual perfection, a model, as Shabbat, for a redeemed world to come; he also demonstrates that it's not the second rate, but the best, which must be dedicated to God-- nebachs shouldn't be our rabbis. Prof. Nachum Rakover proposed "An Ethics Code for Public Figures" at Bet Danny- he noted that a sinning head of the Sanhedrin, tho 100% repentant, cannot continue in his role, as he won't inspire public confidence in the integrity of his decisions (cf. those of today's rabbis who repent after being involved in scandalous behavior).

Both God and Moshe use strong language ("vayidabar", not "vayomer") re these prohibitions and that of the Cohen eating the Jews' offering, while himself unclean (until the stars come out, after he immerses in a mikva on the last day of his impurity)-- God's name must not be profaned. Only a circumcised cohen (S.H. 282), his wife, purchased servant, or never-married, or childless* once-married, daughter may eat sanctified food (trumah- but she may not eat of the breast and thigh portions of sacrifices, priestly dues- Yev. 87a). Its value + a 25% fine is due if anyone else eats it in error; the fine is called "chomesh", "a fifth", as it's also 20% of the total of the profaned principal plus itself (R. Josia; R. Jonatan's rejected view takes 1/5 as simply meaning 20% of the principal itself- 22:14; see 27:27, B.M. 54).

* Lev. 22:13. A possible reason- if she had kids, themselves not cohanim, she might accidentally feed them forbidden trumah; but that pre-supposes that if she was married to a cohen, whose children may eat trumah, then she may eat it too- I did not find this explicitly stated in the Torah, but it would seem like a reasonable implication, in that v. 22:12 bans only the daughter of a priest who is wed to a non-priest from eating truma. Rambam specifically rules so in M.T. Trumot 6:7 (in M.T. Truma,8:7, 6:3, he rules that, altho a daughter of a cohen may not eat truma once she is engaged to a non-cohen (m'kudeshet), a non-Cohen woman, engaged to a cohen, may not eat truma until she completes hupah, entering his domain, lest she give truma to members of her father's household. Sefer HaChinuch does not discuss this law here. Albeck cites all Torah references to truma in Zeraim, p. 171.

Moshe was then ordered to order the cohanim and Jews to bring only unblemished animals as sacrifices (S.H. 285-90); castration of animals is forbidden (S.H. 291-- cf. "psychologically-castrating" women). Moshe's told that newborn animals are only fit for sacrifice from the 8th day after their birth (until then, their viability is questionable, per R. Shimon ben Gamliel-- Shabbat 135b)-- animals whose mother died before their birth, or those born caesarian, may not be sacrificed (Chulin 38b); the Torah suggests that they be "7 days under their mothers"-- cf. modern cruel factory farming of young calves; but Sefer Hachinuch is concerned only with the quality of their meat before 8 days! A dam with its young (M or F) may not be slaughtered on the same day (perhaps to sensitize Jews to ecological preservation of species, or to arouse their mercy upon animals-- see Sefer Hachinuch). But the father animal may be slaughtered the same day (Rashi, per Hulin 78b, vs. Sefer Hachinuch, Ibn Ezra; cf. maternal determination of Jewishness and the Lamaze Lie: "Dad's having the baby too" and the description of old age as "the golden age."). A "Thank-God offering" must be pleasant to God-- the offeror must INTEND to consume it within one day (before dawn), when it is slaughtered (22:29; see Torat Cohanim ibid, Chulin 83a, Pes. 71b); is the prohibition on delayed eating (Lev. 7:15) intended to prevent stale religious experience?

"GUARD MY COMMANDMENTS (learn them well) AND (then you will) DO THEM (per Torat Cohanim-- only if one studies Torah well, will he know exactly how to do the mitzvos; only then will he be filled with their aims and principles and be inspired to do them; see Malbim and Torah Tmimah ibid), "I am God. and don't profane the name of My holiness (by defective sacrifices, etc.); and I shall be sanctified in the midst of the Children of Israel (one should die rather than profane God's name). I am God who sanctifies you, who brings you out of Egypt (mitzrayim) to be your Lord- I am God" (22:31-3). Rav M. Miller (in "Sabbath Shiurim") notes that human sanctification is a 3 stage process-- we master the Torah and the world in the womb (Nid. 30b); tho we forget it upon birth, there remains a residual imprint on the soul; it gives us a yearning to be at one with God, despite all our inclinations to live otherwise. Yet, we must ACT, to release this innate purity of soul, TO SANCTIFY GOD, in our every word and deed. Once we do so, God adds fuel to our holy fire and sanctifies us, taking us out of the narrow places, m'tzarim (cf. Egypt, mitzrayim), which constrain our souls.

LEV. 23:1-4: "God spoke to Moshe, telling him to speak to the Israelites and say to them: These are special times that you must celebrate as special holidays to God. The following are My special times-- you may do work during 6 days, but the 7th day is a Sabbath of Sabbaths. It is a sacred holiday to God, when you shall do no work; wherever you may live, it is God's sabbath. These are God's festivals that you must celebrate as sacred holidays at their appropriate times....: (the Torah now lists the holidays)".

IN CH. 23, sanctity of life is reflected in God's structuring of the time dimension. Holidays, intimate periodic meetings with God, are established via the Jewish calendar; it is determined, with some discretion, by the Sanhedrin. But Shabbat, first of the holy days, was established by God Himself at Creation and is listed separately as a holy day. Holy day work prohibitions are followed by specific commandments for each holiday, starting with Passover. The offering of the first barley on the morrow of Pesach (here called Shabbat) is accompanied by sacrifices; new grain may not be consumed before it is brought. We are to count 49 days, 7 complete weeks, from the second day of Pesach until Shavuot; this remains a Torah commandment even today, when there is no Temple, per Rambam and S.H.; but most authorities disagree, viewing it only as a rabbinic commemoration, until the Temple is restored. Then, on Shavuot, 2 CHAMATZ (leavened) first wheat loaves are offered with sacrifices; the cohen gets to keep and eat them. The Shavuot holiday is unnamed here; neither holiday is described as commemorating any event here. Gleanings and field corners must be left for the poor and strangers- "I AM GOD YOUR LORD". A separate Divine communication introduces Rosh Hashana as a "memorial of blowing" (a hint of Rosh Hashana which occurs on Shabbat, when we just talk about the shofar in our liturgy, rather than actually blowing it).

A SABBATH OF SABBATHS: Next God introduces Yom Hakipurim (by name, unlike Rosh Hashana), a day of self-affliction, fasting, and atonement. A Jew must afflict herself on the 9th day, from "eve to eve" (a hint of a later similar holiday, Tisha B'av?-- T.T., quoting Pnemei Hakadmonim), to celebrate this SUPER SABBATH, a Sabbath of Sabbaths, Shabbat squared (23:32, as in 16:31). This hints at the mitzvah of FEASTING on the 9th of Tishre, as difficult as fasting for a sensitive soul, who is contemplating the awesome upcoming 10th of Tishre, Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashana is just called A SABBATH, not a Sabbath of Sabbaths. Yom Kippur, the "Sabbath of Sabbaths", adds abstention from bodily pleasures to the usual prohibitions of creative work on Shabbat, commemorating Creation; but Shabbat itself seems to be called A SABBATH OF SABBATHS, besides a holiday, in 23:3, where it alone is proclaimed "the festivals of God", just before all the festivals are so proclaimed.

The Shabbat may be set aside as a special holy day, because it contains the essence of all the festivals, celebrating God as both Creator and Redeemer; also, only it is determined solely by God, at Creation-- the exact date of celebration of other holy days lies somewhat within rabbinic discretion. Hertz explains that we are first warned to keep the sabbath, amidst the entire festival calendar, lest we think that we are permitted to cook on a sabbath which is also a festival; this verse thus resembles the proclamation of the shabbat work prohibition, especially of lighting a fire, just before the building of the tabernacle, which is also prohibited on Shabat (Ex. 35:2, where the 7th day is also called a "Sabbath of Sabbaths"); per Vilna Gaon, the 7th day in 23:3 indeed does not refer to the Sabbath, but to Yom Kippur, when no Sabbath work may be done, as opposed to the other six holy FESTIVAL days, when SOME such work may be done, e.g. cooking ("Six days you shall do your work.... "; I don't know how the Gaon explains Ex. 35:2). The sabbatical year, when one refrains from agricultural work a whole year, is also called a Sabbath of Sabbaths, perhaps due to its length (25:4).

PSEUDO-SCIENCE: In any event, we must reject Jacob Milgrim's "scientific or academic" attempt to destroy the unity and integrity of the Torah here-- he alleges that Lev. 23:3 was written during the Babylonian Exile, to console the Jews upon the loss of the Temple and its festive convocations! He claims that the alleged anonymous Divinely inspired later addition to Leviticus was to remind the Jews that they still had shabbat, tho they had lost the festivals with the destruction of the Temple and its sacrifices!!!! Milgrim was unaware of the three excellent traditional explanations above, of why shabbat appears separately, before the other holidays, tho he knows Ugaritic and archeology; his explanation is also really far-fetched-- there are many other, more elaborate, mentions of shabbat in the Torah, besides 23:3; the Jews indeed still had all the festivals, e.g. matzos on Pesach and sukkot and 4 species on Sukkot; they also had lost the special temple sacrifices on Shabbat. The Jews would not have accepted additions to their Divine Torah then, any more than they would today, even if someone like Elie Weisel should add a few specially inspiring verses (23:3 is not even inspiring)!

God next sets forth observance of 7 days of Sukkos; the 8th day is an unnamed "holy day of convocation". The holy days are described as days of sacrifices, but only the sacrifices accompanying the omer and the 2 loaves of shavuot are specified here. All 7 days of Sukkot are celebrated as a harvest festival, the 1st and 8th days to be work-free sabbaths. On the 1st day, a Jew must take in hand an esrog (citron), lulav (palm branch), myrtles, and willows; we rejoice 7 days (this must occur at harvest time, just as Pesach and the barley offering must occur in the spring; so we intercalate the lunar calendar to keep it in line with solar seasons; other ancients also knew about so adding months to 19 year cycles, but they just added them at the end of the period, thus not restricting holidays to special seasons). All "citizens" (males) must dwell (defined as eating & sleeping-- see H.) in sukkos, booths, for 7 days; this commemorates the similar Exodus experience-- "I AM GOD YOUR LORD". Moshe taught everyone the relevant laws at the approach of each festival (Torat Cohanim 17:12). Aharon is not singled out here-- we're not now dealing with sacrificial details, his special province. Some claim that only Israel's leaders must learn about each festival 30 days in advance; they then teach ordinary folks the laws just before the holiday.

CH. 24: God directs Moshe to COMMAND the Jews to bring HIM pure beaten olive oil, to burn thru the night. The cohanim clean and trim the lamps each morning (shabbat too!). One light, called "western", was lit continually; it was the middle one, or the 2nd from the left, depending on whether the menorah, before the partition veil of the tabernacle, was in a N-S or E-W orientation (a dispute). Every Shabbat, 12 breads are set on the golden table, OPPOSITE the menorah (both are called "pure", perhaps because no blood ever touches them) in 2 stacks; beside each stack is pure frankincense, a "memorial" for the bread (only it was burnt to God, after the cohanim got the bread, as the memorial part of a meal offering-- see Rashi). It is an eternal covenant. The cohanim must consume the holy bread in a holy place. THE MENORA AND TABLE hint at post-biblical festivals-- the menorah also shines with eternal Chanukah light, even when there's no temple, and the table turns into the Purim feast (heard from Rav Yehoshua Engelman, a popular spiritual singer, a former student and teacher at Yeshivat Hakotel, and a most welcome recent returnee to Jerusalem, after serving as rabbi of Yakar of London; his is the Jewish contribution to the upcoming interfaith-Shabbat at Tantur in Jerusalem- contact 620-3251, fax 620-3388, or e-mail Engelman also shows hints of Yom Haatzmaut in the Torah; perhaps the pestle or hammer, used to pound the incense, is a hint of Yom Atzmaut, when lower class secular Israelis hit each other over the head with plastic hammers-- their collective unconscious may remind them to set their heads in order and return to Torah; observant Jews shouldn't practice such aggressive nonsense, e.g spraying each other, without permission, with shaving cream, etc., a profanation of this holy happy day.

When Eliyahu will turn hearts of "fathers" (great rabbis, per Rav Yaakov Yosef) to their "children" (the unlearned folk-- ibid), predicts Malachi, their children will respond and turn their hearts to their fathers (3:24). Truly great Rav Shlomo Carlebach attributes anger of children and pupils (and spouses?) to frustration, when they don't get what they need (and crave) for their hearts and souls from their parents and teachers. Since 1993, at least some students at Yeshivat Aish Hatorah stood in silence with all Israel, to mourn and appreciate our fallen soldiers (following Rav Kook & Rav Lau's view, vs. Rav Shach & Co., The Rebbe & Co., and Ohr Somaach). May Israel's temporarily "secular" Jews respond by taking Discovery, waking up, and celebrating Independence Day, together with Aish Hatorah, as a joyous religious holiday-- we must look at the gradually unfolding half full cup of messianic redemption, and celebrate and praise God for it (hear Rav Shalom Gold's TOP tapes, against those who ignore and belittle our inspiring new holidays, "In Defense of Religious Zionism".

** the Gaon ordered that YY's books, attacking the rabbinic establishment, be burnt-- see "The Hassdic Movement and the Gaon of Vilna", E. Shochet. When I mentioned this to Rav Nebensthal of Yeshivat HaKotel, and asked if he would do likewise (he rules, against Aruch Hashulchan, that works of non-Orthodox rabbis be burnt), he replied: "Who am I to argue with the Gaon?".

A son of a Jewish woman (Shlomit bat Divri-- Mrs. Datan?) and an Egyptian man left communal norms and fought with another Jew. His father was slain by Moshe for beating a Jew, after sleeping with the Jew's wife, who had pleasantly engaged The Boss in conversation-- women, especially married women, are not to be flirtingly friendly to other men (Vayikra Raba 32:4; or chatterboxes-- Midrash Hagadol); Hirsch implies that she willingly lived with the decadent Egyptian; but some midrashim don't blame her for sleeping with him-- they claim that the Egyptian impersonated her husband, after sending him off to work far away (see "Tiferet Tziyon" ibid). They fought about the Egyptian man's son's claim to a stake in Dan's tribal portion of Israel (Rav Chiya, ibid 32:3); he also mocked the law of the week-old showbreads, given to the cohenim (R. Levi ibid). He blasphemed the Tetragrammaton, with which Moshe killed his father! (Tos. HaRosh). He was brought to Moshe, who put him in safekeeping, awaiting God's decision as to the correct penalty. As was the case with the sinner, who gathered wood on Shabbat, Moshe was in no rush to punish anyone. But when people needed help in clarifying the law, the daughters of Tzlafchad and those unclean on Pesach, Moshe brought their cases to God for immediate clarification (Targum Yonaton). Rav J. Soloveichik concluded that a true leader is quick to help, but in no rush to punish (cf. today's leaders).

Murder entails the death penalty; but only money is due for killing a beast or just wounding a person. The stranger and native have one law- "FOR I'M GOD YOUR LORD". Emor closes with the blasphemer, who is stoned by Divine command-- he PURPOSELY acted to destroy the preceding holy system of holy laws, as did Wizards and Molech cultists, also to be executed, as stated at the end of K'doshim. BESIDES stressing the positive and educating the ignorant, we must destroy incorrigible grossly destructive or evil forces-- Arafat? Pornography? Israel TV? Rav J. Soloveichik warns against applying this rule to today's anti-religious Jews, even rebellious rabbis-- all are "captive children", captivated by contemporary pervasive secular worldviews; Rav Kook (in "Iggerot ha-Reiya" 1:71) and Hazan Ish (13:16) agree.

Chofetz Chaim says that we may not hate heretics today, for no one can first rebuke them properly (end of "Ahavat Chesed"). Rational and reasonable Rav Norman Lamm, a true "gadol", rebukes those who are lenient in the mitzva of loving one's non-observant neighbor ("Loving and Hating Jews as Halachic Catagories", Ch. 4 of "Jewish Tradition and the Non-traditional Jew"). If protests against Sabbath driving and movies drive the non-observant even further from the Torah, they're the devil's devices-- such pious protestors only express their own aggression and pursuit of power. So Shimon & Levi first kill the infidel, Shchem, then try to kill Yosef; finally, Levi's descendants must slay Shimon's, whose wild orgies with the maidens of Midian are far worse than Shchem's love for Dina-- cf. Meir Kahane's biography by Robert Friedmen, "The False Prophet"; he exposes the internecine warfare and lust for sex, power and violence, frequently, tho not always, found among political extremists.

In 1999, I attended a mass rally of English speakers (about 700) for The National Unity Movement, Ha'ihud Haleumi (tel. 624-9885), a coalition of unlikely bedfellows, Moledet, Herut and Tekuma, united in their determination not to give up another inch of Israel and in their dislike and distrust of the NRP and Likud (they claim to be the true religious and true right-wingers). The moving force for the meeting was The Women in Green, headed by vital and enthusiastic Nadia and Ruth Matar, loyally supported in their cause and views by their husbands and children, something like the family in "Sound of Music". It's nice to see a family so united in their commitment, tho it is a rare phenomenon in our free, complex and individualistic society. I was quite impressed with academic Benny Begin, a rare man of principle in the political jungle- he did not hesitate to proclaim what he believed to be true, even if unpopular with his heated following, the mark of a true leader- e.g. his conclusion that The Supreme Court was a fine and necessary institution, with no anti-religious bias, that Deri should be shunned like the plague, and that the Arab candidate for PM had every right to run as a citizen of the democratic state of Israel; he felt that our problems are with the Jews who identify with the Arab cause, not with the Arabs, in this realm. Tho perhaps the best candidate for PM, in terms of his personal qualities, he did quite poorly, probably due more to his dry joyless manner than to his extreme political position.

Daniel Bloch agrees that Begin is undoubtedly an honest and sincere man, who stands for the primacy of democracy and the rule of law; but, he claims, that although character, moral fiber and values are extremely important, they cannot be the only criteria for choosing a PM. The political agenda, order of priorities, and ideological principles are no less important... Not even one of the candidates has convinced the majority of voters that he has the properly balanced package (JP 4/25/99). But I, as many of those around me, was not at all impressed with most of the other candidates on the list- Rehavam (Gandhi) Ze'evi, like Kahana, still urges transfer of the Arabs to Saudi Arabia (!!!) and hopes to convince his coalition partners too; it is virtually impossible that he could ever do such a thing, so all that he accomplishes is to raise the level of Arab hatred, further endangering and disgracing us; if he ever did get his wish, the whole world, including diaspora Jews, would disdain us, a great chillul hashem; huge numbers of Israelis would leave in disgust and he would probably bring down the State of Israel faster than any left-winger.


LAWYERS: A local United Way office realized that it had never received a donation from the town's most successful lawyer. The person in charge of contributions called him to persuade him to contribute. "Our research shows that out of a yearly income of at least $500,000, you give not a penny to charity. Wouldn't you like to give back to the community in some way?". The lawyer mulled this over for a moment and replied, "First, did your research also show that my mother is dying after a long illness, and has medical bills that are several times her annual income?" Embarrassed, the United Way rep mumbled, "" "--or that my brother, a disabled veteran, is blind and confined to a wheelchair?" The stricken United Way rep began to stammer out an apology but was interrupted, "--or that my sister's husband died in a traffic accident," the lawyer's voice rising in indignation, "leaving her penniless with three children?!" The humiliated United Way rep, completely beaten, said simply, "I had no idea..." On a roll, the lawyer cut him off once again: "--so if I don't give any money to them, why should I give any to you?"

I was especially upset by Rabbi Hanan Porat, generally a reasonable and pleasant person- he insisted that anyone who would give up even a bit of land was fighting not only Rachel and Jeremiah, but God Himself!!! Besides the fact that far greater scholars than him, e.g. Rav J. Soloveichik and Rav Ovadia Yosef, approved, in principle, "Land for peace", the prophets often speak of God allowing others to even conquer the land, when the Jews desecrate His Torah, e.g. by portions of Israel TV and The Israel Festival; Jeremiah, as Isaiah, warns the Jews not to fight Assyria, for God won't help them; God lets 70,000 Jews die, until David hands over Saul's sons to be killed by the Givonim, for Saul's abuse of them, perhaps only putting them out of work. Some religious right-wingers, just like Neturei Karta, border on becoming false prophets when they claim to know just what God wants in a particular political situation.

Elyakim Ha'Etzni was his usual brilliant and articulate self, w/o invoking God or the Messiah in his arguments. Most of these candidates used cheap emotional rabble-rousing tactics, pretending that only they were truly for aliya and against terrorism- all Israeli governments and potential governments share such agendas, and probably are far more experienced and capable in achieving them. Could this movement possibly match Shimon Peres in getting desperately needed arms for Israel (see "David's Sling- The inside story of how Israel developed her military strength, including her search for arms and alliances in the Western world")? None of these right-wing speakers even addressed the problem of just how they would solve the Arab Problem and the Arabs' natural desire for independence. In general, it strikes me as immoral and wasteful to throw anyone, including Bibi and Barak, out of their job and start from scratch with someone else, unless it is really clear that the new person is far superior, despite their lack of experience.


God tells Moshe to speak to the cohanim, SONS OF AHARON, again and again (21:1). Rebbe Elimelech portrays two types of religious leaders-- those who inherit the role, and those self-made. The latter, coming from oblivion, are always on guard, lest they return there (so today's returnees often prefer that a "great man", deified, NEVER wrong, think and feel for them. They get upset at suggestions that things are not so "black and white", that sometimes one rabbi is right, sometimes another-- e.g. in these studies). But those born into leadership feel piety "in their blood"; they indeed may let themselves slip a bit, confident they'll not fall far. Such are the priests- just because they're SONS OF AHARON, they must be exhorted again and again to do their duties with meticulous detail and zeal! Concern with exact detail flows from fear of God, zeal from love of God. Rav Adin Steinsaltz equates one's true commitment to a great, but vague, ideal, e.g. "love your neighbor as yourself", with his commitment to the exact details of its execution and expression. As our hearts overflow with love of humanity, are we willing to change a messy diaper or sit with a boring, but lonely, elderly or ill person? Does our hospitality extend to those truly in need, tho we may not enjoy their miserable company, or is it reserved for those whose company we really enjoy?

"THE HEAVENS RELATE THE GLORY OF GOD... (tho) THERE ARE NO WORDS AND NO SPEAKER" (Psalm 19)-- heavenly bodies convey God's greatness by their very functioning, without speech. Per Lev. Raba 26:5, however, the Psalmist notes that God does not HAVE TO speak TO them, to nudge them, for they do their function pre-programmed, automatically, as does everything in the universe, EXCEPT MAN. Lev. 21:1 teaches that Man, even the best-- the cohen, must be constantly nagged and reproved to reach his potential. We're all to be a mutual Reprovement and Improvement Society, vs. contemporary secular ethics that everyone's business and body are their own. We're all in the same boat-- if one makes a hole only in his end of the boat, we'll all sink together (Rashby). "Soft speech" (emor), repeated heartfelt explanation, enables the cohanim to transcend the natural response of full mourning for their dead relatives, e.g. grandparents and grandchildren; the deceased usually have others, even closer, to tend to their burial (Abarbanel).

Rav Tzvi Dov Kanotopsky (in "NIGHT OF WATCHING") sees the festival laws of harvest and homage in Emor as striking a balance between heaven and earth. So the cohen must remove himself from earthly death, but is COMMANDED to defile himself for his wife and closest biological relatives; even the high priest must defile himself to bury the simplest Jew, if no one else will do so. Cohanim too must marry and reproduce-- they are LESS holy if they don't (but see EJ, Abraham ben Maimon); yet they must avoid unions likely to produce less committed and holy relationships. Both priests and sacrifices must exhibit physical perfection, demonstrating that all seeming defects in nature (run by God in his seemingly impersonal aspect of elokim-- the Lord) are due to His erring children (cf. Deut. 32:4-5, Gen. 6:11-13). A calf, naturally born to a live mother, may not be slaughtered for a sacrifice for 7 days, when its "under its mother" (22:27, cf. Ex. 22:29; see Chulin 38b, Zev. 12a, Yoma 63b, and Torat Cohanim for details-- is this a concession to God's natural laws of bonding? Cf. 8th day circumcision; see our Tazria study). The priests must eat sacrifices, but only in strict ritual purity. Finally the festivals must combine the elements of nature, history, and the transcendental. Kanotopsky sees the interrelationship of the menorah and the bread-table as that of natural and supernatural realms (cf. B. S. Jacobson's article in "Meditations on the Torah").


Those who just go after their eyes and hearts, when they interact with nature, lack true understanding of how it works and how to use and conquer it. They may, however, gain sensitivity to its beauty, and intuitively relate well to much of this world; an American Indian is far better than a top scientist in tracking and using vegetation in the forest; his awe of Nature, and resultant humility, may also far exceed that of the scientist, so proud of his own abstract (and God-given) intellectual understanding of God's Great World. On the other hand, those able to persistently and meticulously examine nature, via abstraction and the scientific method, will discover its secret workings, God's formulae; they can do things that leave the Indian spellbound; if they are not too repressed, spiritually constipated, the scientists will also be spellbound at God's awesome creation. God's Torah, blueprint of the world, works similarly. We gain much by the attentive reading of the Torah with our eyes and the natural emotional reactions of our hearts-- yet the Torah warns us NOT to go astray after our eyes and hearts-- they're just not enough. Rav Gafni noted that down to earth commoners often have far more common sense and an awareness of how to react to life, than do academicians; but the latter are necessary to set intuitive feelings into rational, deep and organized structures- cf. diamonds' settings..

Torah has its own scientific method, painstaking abstract deductive examination, according to traditional meanings and hermeneutic principles. When we use them, we find completely new approaches and insights, embodied and expounded in the Talmud, Midrash, and later commentaries. Masters of the method were Jewry's leaders, tho respect was also given to great personalities, whose hearts were on fire with God and His Torah, e.g. the Besht and "Reb Shmuel" Abramovitz of Yemin Moshe. As the Indian in the woods, a warm loving simple person might be better at human relations and the joy of religious life than a great scholar, even of mussar (ethics; cf. hassidut); yet only the latter will understand halachic and psychological complexities; without these insights, the road to hell may be paved with good intentions and passionate emotion-- the zealots fought on for Jerusalem, while R. Yochanan knew that God would not help Israel against Rome (cf. Israel today; would Chanan Porat have excommunicated him? Would the Women in Green have picketed his house?). So a simple, tho heartfelt and pious, reading of the Bible would not, indeed, yield proper understanding and application of these passages from our reading:

I. We count the omer, 49 days, from day #2 of Pesach, called "the day after shabbat" in 23:15. Karites and Samaritans took "SHABBAT" literally and counted from the first Shabbat of Pesach, celebrating Shavuot on the 50th day thereafter; they thus lose the connection between Exodus, celebrated at the beginning of Pesach, and Shavuot's Sinai Revelation, not replaced by any reasonable connection between Shabbat Pesach and Revelation. Passover is here called shabbat, just as shabbat is also called moed, a holiday (23:2-3; but see our discussion supra), indicating their interrelationship, that of Creation and Jewish history, i.e. Re-Creation.

But WHY call Pesach "Shabbat" here? The Pesach of Exodus, as Shabbat, was the sole gift and determination of God, when the enslaved Jews had virtually lost self-initiative; in later ages, the Sanhedrin determined its date, as those of all holidays. Thus Shabbat and Pesach are grouped together here in one Divine statement. So God "starts up" our soul in the yeshiva of the womb. The counting of the omer is our own step-by- step effort to develop this Divine potential, after our Passover Exodus re-birthday; when we reach the 49th level, the highest possible human development, God reaches down and pulls us higher, to #50, in His sanctification of Shavuot (Tzadok Hacohen, "Machshevot Charutz" 10; "Mesillat Yesharim" 26-- see Rav Miller above; so Dr. G. Schroeder believes that Adam was one of countless humanoids who strove to be something higher; God responded by endowing him with His Image; so Avraham sought to undo Adam's damage-- God responded with his choice to found His Chosen Folk). Omer and Shavuot are thus grouped in a separate Divine statement. Rosh Hashana, a new beginning, as Pesach, is also called Shabbat, and Yom Kippur, its culmination, Shabbat of Shabbats-- God then recharges our fallen exhausted souls, after a year of their tarnished deterioration.

II. "B'tula", virgin, must be defined for 2 laws this week-- 1) A priest may defile himself upon the death of his VIRGIN sister, who's (still) close to him, who's not yet another man's-- "for her he MUST defile himself" (21:3). 2) A HIGH PRIEST may only marry a woman "IN her virginity" (21:13) and "a virgin FROM HER PEOPLE" (14-- no converted or once captured woman, per Ibn Ezra). "Alma", meaning "a young woman", is mistranslated "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14, by Christians, who struggle to find obscure Biblical hints for their highly questionable claim that God changed His Mind about the Jewish mission, tho He said that he would never do so-- read "Their Hollow Inheritance" ($15), and hear Gershom Tryster's tapes ($7), refuting Christian distortion of the O.T. (Only Testament)-- they constantly try to "find" Jesus in God's only holy book, which never mentions him; Rav Riskin thinks that Jesus would be horrified by their attempts to deify him-- watch his TOP video lecture, "A Jewish View of Jesus", originally delivered at the Falk NCSY Israel Center on Christmas Eve!

1) The virginity requirement, re a cohen mourning his sister, may reflect psychological reality-- the natural relation of loving kindness (chesed) between brother and sister is to be sublimated into her relationship with her husband, who's to be her "new brother" (20:17); King Shlomo calls her "A locked up garden, (to be opened up as) my sister, (my) bride" (S. of S. 4:12). Even betrothal may be enough to sublimate the relationship, tho she's still a virgin (R. Yose & R. Simeon, vs. R. Meir & R. Yehuda, Yev. 60a). A woman's brother is also an alleged prototype of her sons; Hirsch notes that the menstrual prohibition (20:18) follows that of one's sister-- my wife is to be "my sister" (rather than "my bride"), the closest of friends, but platonic, for that "locked up garden" period-- cf. "O' THAT YOU WERE LIKE MY BROTHER..." (S. OF S. 8:l). Yet a cohen also doesn't defile himself for a dead sister, who was raped (Yev. 60a); perhaps this turns the woman off to any male-female relations, all offshoots of that with her brother. But Rav Shimon defines "non-virgin" here simply as loss of the hymen, even thru a non-sexual accident.

2) For the high priest to transcend death and be wholly dedicated to God, he must marry a virgin, a woman totally dedicated to him, never involved with any other man (Sefer Hachinuch). Some say that he may not even marry a woman over 12 1/2 (whose heart, sexually oriented, may have already dwelt on others). All agree that he may not marry a woman who has lost her hymen (Yev. Mish. 59a); Sefer Hachinuch proposes that she only forms the strongest bond with he who deflowers her-- "A woman doesn't seal a covenant except with he who renders her an (useable) instrument" (San. 22b, which MAY mean this); perhaps deprivation of this basic experience, per R. Shimon above, also affects the depth of her relationship to her brother, which will never reach its sublimated culmination. Such psychological functions, attributed to the hymen, are reasonable-- apparently unique to humans, it has no physical function (so non-functional male breasts remind him that he's a bit of a nurturer-- but see Jay Gould, "Bully for Brontosaurus"). It's not usually completely sealed (allowing menstrual flow); a sexual act, tho leaving the hymen intact, may prohibit a woman to the high priest. But if he did marry a hymenless or adolescent woman, he needn't divorce her. Yevamot (59-60a; 60b) gives ancient virginity tests, from the bad old pre-scientific days, e.g.:

Israel is to kill only those Midianite women "WHO HAD KNOWN A MAN"-- Num. 31:17-8. How did they know? Famous Judge and Aggadist R. Hana B. Biza cited R. Simeon the pious: "They were made to pass before the high priest's frontplate. If the face of anyone turned pale... she was fit for cohabitation; if it didn't..., she was unfit". Other ancients suggest a simple, but biologically highly questionable, test-- if she sits on a barrel of wine and the odor of the wine is sensed upon her breath, she's not a virgin!!! If anyone knows of a scientifically reasonable explanation of this folk wisdom, please let me know. Perhaps there's a placebo effect-- believing that it will work, the woman in ? may acknowledge her lack of virginity rather than take the test. Rambam (Isurei Biah 17:13) limits the high priest to 1 wife, tho his source isn't clear (Only a king is limited by Torah Law, vis-a-vis the number of wives he may have at a given time- 18); a second wife was prepared for him on Yom Kippur, in case wife #1 died-- holy men SHOULD be married (vs. Slobodka Yeshiva and the old R.S.A.'s long-term bachelors! Leaders of Mussar Yeshivot were often too lifeless, gentle and feminine, bad models for vibrant virile young men).

Rav G. Fleer admits that some ancient explanations of Torah, e.g. that of Sefer Hachinuch above, may be strange and unacceptable today; yet there are amazingly few such cases. Per Ramchal, each age must accept the same laws, God's Torah, but may experience and interpret it as it wishes (cf. A.). L. Epstein (in "Sex Laws & Customs in Judaism", an old-fashioned precursor to Dr. Ruth's 21st century "Heavenly Sex-- Sexuality in the Jewish Tradition" and Smueli Boteach's "kosher Sex") gave a 20th century explanation of the above laws, similar to that of "The Guide"-- we now know that ancient cults viewed defloration and losing virginity as religious rites, done for, or with, the priest or cult leader-- cf. sacred prostitutes. This led to the jus primae noctis of the Romans, continued by their Esavian Christian European successors (some of our ancestors?). Jews tried everything to save their daughters (J.E.). The Jewish High Priest is to be the opposite-- he may not marry a woman artificially deflowered. If a cohen's sister does such a thing, it may weaken his bond with her. Some Jews also adopted artificial defloration (Yer. Ket. 25b, Yev. 34b, Gen. Rab. 51:11). Perhaps God wants only a woman's ultimate husband to end her virginity, however humble his station. The High Priest thus preaches holiness by taking only a true virgin.

Rav Mordecai, director of Minad, discussed sex in his exciting TV show, "Tachat Gafno". He explored the intense power of sex in our lives, noting that we lose ourselves, float into eternity, join God, in the sexual experience; but God links "they shall be one flesh" with "she shall be a help-mate opposite him" in Genesis, implying that communicative dialogue, including criticism and equal relational status, is a prerequisite to a meaningful truly human sexual experience (cf. Rav Shmueli Boteach's books). Unfortunately and inexplicably, Rav Gafni ignored what is perhaps the most important aspect of sex- to join God in creating human beings in His Image. His guest, who directs a prominent modeling agency, responded that he learned more about life in this one show than in his 40 years of life experience; another guest agreed. Rav Gafni's great mission, to bring the Torah to sensitive secularists, is really happening! Shilo Rav Dov Berkowitz, who replaced Gafni as director of Milah (2001- Dov is now on his own!), has also started explorations of Israeli culture and its Jewishness (or lack thereof) on a regular basis. This week in 1999 he did theatre- one speaker noted the power of the word and infinite holistic connections in Judaism, as opposed to most non-Jewish theatre, primarily concerned with action and defined plots, with clear endings and limited connections.

III. A Zonah, prohibited to a cohen, is usually translated "a loose woman", one who experiences sex only as a snack, a biological need -- "mazon" is Hebrew for food, sustenance; "ha-zon" is he who feeds or sustains. In Sefer HaChinuch, Charles Wengrov translates "zona" as "a wanton" (YF: not a Chinese dish or Geisha).

This attitude may account for the many Israeli prostitutes whose origin is the former materialist non-spiritual USSR; in poor taste, akin to that of the Bat Sheva Dance Co., Moment featured a profanely illustrated long article on prostitution in Israel in its 50th Anniversary issue, tho it might sell magazines (Rav Aharon Goldscheider, orthodox rabbi of Jacksonville, Florida).

Per R. Akiva, "zonah" is a prostitute (see Ibn Ezra and Rashi on 21:7); R. Eleazer included any woman who had premarital intercourse in this catagory, and R. Yehuda even a woman incapable of procreation. The final legal definition, however, is "a woman who EVEN ONCE had sexual relations with a challal, one rendered unfit for the priesthood, or someone whom she COULD NOT marry, e.g. a mamzer or forbidden relative" (Yev. 61b, not an animal-- Yev. 59b). Rambam also bans a woman who had relations with a non-Jew, tho she could marry him if he converts; perhaps then he's considered new-born, a different person (M. T. Isurei Biah 18:1ff). A freed slave or convert is presumed to have had such relations, rather than investigating each case; some would permit cohanim to marry those with good evidence that they were virgins, but Kiryat Sefer claims that their origin, a promiscuous culture, itself renders them ineligible (cf. US & UK TV shows, e.g. Soap, and the pagan Bat Sheva Dance Company; Bnei Brak Bat Yaakov Seminaries' ban on dance and drama); Lev. 21:14 seems to prohibit a virgin convert only to a high priest-- see Ency. Tal., Zonah; "Heavenly Sex".

As a result, an older cohen-returnee to Judaism has few candidates for marriage today-- many women are either divorced, or have slept with a non-Jew. Per SOME opinions, these are only marital, not concubinal, prohibitions upon a cohen-- see Ellinson, "Nisuin Shelo C'das Moshe V'Yisrael", p. 87. Rashi, however, prohibits all non-marital sexual relations, even common law marriage (as Rambam, vs. Ramban & Rosh-- see "Sh'alot Yavetz" II:15), under the prohibition of handing over one's daughter to profaning promiscuity ("Z'NUS"; Lev. 19:29)-- such unconsecrated sexuality inspires a "promiscuous" earth to yield its fruits only in other lands, not Israel.

IV. One who damages another's eye only pays damages in Jewish Law. So why then does God write "AN EYE FOR AN EYE"? Rav Joseph Soloveichik views this as a moral message, not a legal teaching-- we learn Jewish law only from God's oral tradition, Talmud. Even if I have paid my legal debt, I should not feel morally exculpated. Existential guilt remains-- I must somehow (just how is not legally fixed) return an eye, e.g. donate a cornea or read to the blind. Perhaps AN EYE FOR AN EYE should sometimes be taken literally, to preserve a wild aggressive society, e.g. cutting a thief's hand off in Saudia. Even a Jewish king may proclaim any necessary extra-legal measures to save society-- God's talmudic law is designed for a normal disciplined, holy and healthy Jewry, whose aggression is rare (see Schreiber, "JEWISH LAW & DECISION MAKING").

F. THE HAFTARA is Ezekiel 44:15-31

Ezekiel portrays, in detail, the restored 3rd Temple and priesthood, may they arise soon! Ideal Cohanim, sons of Tzadok, will lead the people as true "sons of Levi", rather than being led by them, dependent upon them for their livelihood (Hirsch, who, as Avot, Shulchan Aruch and Rambam, says that scholars should support themselves!). Ezekiel's Temple laws seemingly conflict with those of the Torah-- e.g. he also prohibits a widow and non-virgin to an ordinary cohen, except for another cohen's widow. Some say that some laws will change in the 3rd Temple. Per Tos. Yom Tov, Ezra's returnees didn't merit to build the 3rd Temple, according to Ezekiel. Rav A. Nebenzthal attempts to reconcile the differences. Perhaps during Ezekiel's corrupt era, the cohen's role was unusually difficult. He then needed an extra-devoted wife, who had never married another, unless she already was used to the sacrifice of being a cohen's wife (cf. doctors' wives and rebbetzins).


Arye Kaplan died of heart disease just before his 49th birthday; he always feared that he would so die young, as did his mother. My friend, Mel Botvin, truly devoted to Torah, and his equally pleasant father, Sol, shared the same fate. Kaplan, whose lack of ego in his teaching is appreciated by Roberta Chester, confronts death in "Immortality, Resurrection, and The Age of The Universe: A Kabbalistic View", Ktav. Ch. 2 deals with longevity and immortality in Judaic sources-- the reasons for aging and death, the biological clock, as well as the possibly good possibility of their elimination. Kaplan explores the vastly greater life spans of early Biblical man, before Adam's descendants mated with descendants of the previous 974 generations of human-like animals. He connects the resurgence of long life spans in the messianic era to its peace and tranquility, between man and God, man and nature, and man and man. Last Thursday's Jerusalem Post, besides containing my rebuttal of L.A. Conservative Rabbi David Wolpe's denial of Exodus, featured interviews by Kathy Lally with folks who live quite vitally to a hundred years or more in Azerbajan. They attribute it to a simple agricultural life, good clean air and little contact with the outside world with all its troubles; if they got newspapers and listened to radio, they'd be terribly concerned about so many things, about which they could do nothing, like most of us. A Baku biologist summed up: "The less information a person has, the longer he lives!". A similar lifestyle might help many older Western folks keep their spirits up, the best way to keep their bodies up.

103 year old Makhbuba Fatullayeva draws on her life experience to confirm biblical belief in holy speech- "Who is the man who desires life, who loves days, to see (experience) good? Guard your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking treacherously: depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it" ((Ps. 34:13-15). When asked how she lived so long and stayed healthy, she replied: "I have prayed to God all my life. I am a kind person and I have never envied anyone. I have always been with nature. I knew the value of life. That's why I kept myself from rumors and I was relaxed." She's never been to a doctor and has never left her hamlet of 30 houses, except once to go to the far meadow. She still does her daily chores, feeds the chickens, makes butter and washes. A local scientist attributes the longevity of many local residents to genetic factors, enhanced by diet (yogurt, enhanced by herbs and spices), exercise and fresh air. "Ten years ago, it was a ridiculous thing to die before 90 here. We used to say if someone doesn't live until 100, it's their own fault!"

In Ch. 3, Kaplan explores a fundamental Jewish belief-- resurrection of the dead, the reunion of body and soul (not to be confused with highly debatable reincarnation, extolled as basic Judaism by the Zohar and Ari, disdained as pagan nonsense by much earlier Saadya and Albo, viewed as a great gift of the Greeks by Abarbanel-- beware of it? Are dibbuks for real?). He cites both the majority opinion, that body and soul are rejoined in the world to come, and the minority opinion-- that the purely spiritual world of bodiless souls IS the world to come, temporarily interrupted for resurrection and re-death. He then tries to show how physical resurrection may simply be an advanced form of cloning, the "dew of resurrection" (Pesachim 68a), some sort of nutrient solution or, more probably, some substance that can extract and reassemble the genetic material from human remains, possibly using genetic viruses in the process-- the information conveyed in the genetic code, revealed prophetically, may suffice for cloning by constructing artificial chromosomes, where there are no remains (of course, since so much of who we are depends on EEE-- environment, experience and education, the cloned me is not really me, other than genetically). Jerusalemite T. Kun, in "Project Mind" ($20 from TOP), claims that man can conquer death and matter (YF: taxes too?) thru accelerated thought. The appendix to Kaplan's work contains a sermon on the soul, death and ressurection, delivered by Rabbi Israel Lipschitz, author of "Tiferet Yisroel", in Danzig, 1842, translated into English and annotated by Dr. Yaakov Elman.

We also deal with death in our Chukas study; Chukas and Emor are called "pure" readings in Lev. Raba 26:3. So, per Sefer Hachinuch, the body drags down and obscures the soul and intelligence, despite the soul's light (cf. Plato's cave). Once the soul is gone, the remaining body surely contaminates those who come into contact with it's death essence, common to all temporary physical life. Abarbanel suggests that contamination only results when some of the soul still clings to the body at death, out of force of habit; the entire soul of a true saint eagerly departs to God; the remaining body is simple non-contaminating matter!-- is Rav Nachman still in Uman? Rambam in Tiberias?

"Sefer Hachinuch" continues: "However, all mitzvos are for the greatest human benefit, and `ALL ITS WAYS ARE PLEASANTNESS AND ITS PATHS PEACE' (Prov. 3:17; Rtamban notes that all mitzvos are to benefit us, not punish us)". The Torah overlooks the spiritual taint and ORDERS the cohen to defile himself for close relatives-- "for their hearts would be upset about their dead relative, if they couldn't enter the tent where he lies, pour out their emotions, and satisfy their souls with wailing about him" (why not the cohen gadol too?). The cohen is to teach not only that death is an illusion, but that eating and organic life itself can transcend death, be spiritual; Malbim says that the WOMAN OF VALOR (Prov. 31:10) refers to that body, which is madly in love with its soul!. The Cohen, consuming sacred food, teaches the ordinary Jew "how to eat holy"; this complements Divine restrictions on eating, and sensitive awareness of the miracles of food and our bodies, via the blessings (Hirsch).

The Cohen can only set such an example if he himself is not tainted by the great depressant-- contact with death. We conclude: "THEY SHALL BE HOLY TO THEIR LORD (OF NATURE) AND NOT PROFANE THE NAME OF THEIR LORD, for the fire-offerings of God, THE FOOD OF THEIR LORD, they bring near and they THEMSELVES must be a sanctuary" (21:6). Hirsch explains (Num. 19) that one naturally adopts sinful doubts and loss of faith upon encountering death in such intimate fashion as contact with, or entering the same structure as, a corpse. One feels indeed: "For accidents (of nature-- yf) are (the fate of) the sons of man and accidents (that of) the animals- they are subject to the same accidents. As this dies, so does this, and they all have one breath. the superiority of earthman (yf) over beast is non-existent, for (or when) all are transient. (Ecc. 3:19)". One is gradually brought back to the reality of faith in the Divine human soul via sprinkling of the liquid containing ashes of the red heifer, a SIN offering brought on the Mt. of Olives. The priest defiles himself in its preparation. Red heifer liquid is applied on the 3rd and 7th days, teaching that organic life, created on the 3rd day, must itself be sanctified, before man rises up to 7th day holiness.

DEATH ASPECTS OF FOOD AND SLEEP: Sleep is compared to death in the prayers before retiring: "Brighten my eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death. Blessed be God when we lie down, blessed be God when we get up; for in Your hands are the souls of the living and the dead... into Your hand I deposit my spirit...". "Sh'ma" is recited both prior to death and prior to sleep, which the rabbis say = 1/60 of death (Ber. Ch. 9); the Vilna Gaon urged minimal daily sleep-- 4 hours-- vs. Rambam, who recommends 8 (M. T. Daot 4:4; but bathe only once every 7 days-- 4:16; some German scientists claim that bathing washes away protective elements on the surface of the skin); both views on sleeping can be derived from Job 3:12: "Would that I had slept-- THEN (uz, = 8, a hint of Rambam's view) I WOULD HAVE BEEN at rest ("li"= 40, which the Gaon would view as the resulting two day 40 hours of inner rest after 8 hours sleep!)". One with little internal conflict, at harmony with God and the Universe, needs less conflict-resolving dreaming, and thus less sleep. Experiments indicate that dreams may indeed be the very purpose of sleeping-- when folks were deprived of REM (rapid eye movement) dream sleep, they quickly developed neurotic symptoms, tho allowed to sleep a lot w/o dreaming.

Rav Shlomo Aviner cites R. Abdimi of Haifa: "Before one eats and drinks, he has 2 hearts, but after he eats and drinks, he has only 1 heart, as it says in JOB. 11:12- A HOLLOW (or EMPTY- navuv) MAN IS 2-HEARTED (B.B. 12b)"; Aviner claims that one is thrown into the single-hearted "death" of sleeping and tiredness, after eating a "good meal", losing his alert inquisitive spiritual heart (an argument for snacks vs. meals; but Baruch Walters argues for big meals-- one fulfills the Torah's commandment to bless God after eating only if he feels full-- Deut. 8:10; otherwise his grace is only Rabbinic). Wine (yayin, = 70 = secret, sod), associated with sleep, also releases secrets of the conflicted soul. R. Huna ben R. Yehoshua said: "He who accustoms himself (it may not work at first) to new wine (tirosh), even tho his heart is closed like a virgin, wine opens his eyes, as said in Zech. 9:17: NEW WINE SHALL OPEN UP THE VIRGINS" (B.B. 12b). This may refer to repression of emotion, much as the virgin represses sensuality, with subsequent elation when the repression ceases. Perhaps big meals and wine are only for Shabbat (and holidays?), when one's "extra soul" guides dreams in higher directions, as it raises up meat and fish to become part of a Divine Image Jew- should one avoid daily "l'chayims" on vodka?

Nevertheless, death and contact with death are also praised- "THE LORD SAW ALL THAT HE MADE AND, BEHOLD, IT WAS VERY GOOD!" (Gen. 1:31). Resh Lakish says that ALL refers to the joining of this world and the next, the theme of our portion, while R. Yochanan says that "VERY GOOD" describes ALL, the entire gestalt of existence-- a particular aspect viewed alone may look bad. So Bilam tries to curse Israel by viewing only a part; cf. Israel today. R. Meir applies "VERY GOOD" to death, perhaps a necessary limit on human arrogance, which leads to surrender to God and repentance (Gen. Raba 9:3-5). Likewise we read in Ecc. 7: "A NAME IS BETTER THAN PRECIOUS OIL" (anointing for the crowns of priesthood, kingship,and Torah is of limited worth, unless accompanied by the crown of a good name-- cf. Avot 4:17), "AND THE DAY OF DEATH THAN THE DAY OF BIRTH" (apprehension at a ship's departure on a perilous journey is compared to the joy upon its successful return-- see Mechilta, B'Shalach 2:5). "Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, insofar as that is the end of every man, and the living will put it upon their hearts. Better grief than laughter, for, in the sadness of mood, the soul will be improved. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, and the heart of fools in the house of rejoicing" (9th of Av vs. Dizengoff, Yom Hazicharon TV vs. Soap & Benson, RH vs. Sylvester-- chassidim vs. misnagdim?)

Rav Kanotopsky ("NIGHT OF WATCHING, Tzav") distinguishes between meaningful, and seemingly meaningless, death. Tzav and Jewish history begin with the obscure EVENING olah sacrifice, burnt in a furnace (moked)-- no purpose is seen in the continual murder and torture of Jews, especially by followers of its daughter religions, who claim that God changed His mind. But eventually clearer MORNING sacrifices appear, on an altar (mizbaach); then God, "THE priest", appears, visible in history; we now see purpose in the continuing Jewish sacrifices of Tzahal-- they preserve the State of Israel, as it grows toward Messianic dawn; cf. "... THERE WAS EVENING, (then) THERE WAS MORNING-- THE DAY OF THE ONE" (Gen. 1:5), and Esav's angel's appeal to Yaakov-Yisroel: "SEND ME AWAY, FOR DAWN HAS RISEN" (Gen. 32:26). Finally, after "peace offerings", when there's no more war, the menora of truth shall be lit from the altar of sacrifice-- "FROM ZION SHALL GO FORTH TORAH AND THE WORD OF GOD FROM JERUSALEM (Is. 2:3)". Then the sacrifices of all Jews who died in God's Name, at the hands of Crusaders & Germans, of Almohade and Catholic Inquisitions (and of the British Palestinian regime, PLO and Chamas), will be seen as necessary steps toward the return of Man to God via Israel, the "pure land".


We recognize God in every realm of life, both by words and deeds. We don't only thank Him for our food, but live the message that He's our Sole Provider, by refraining from certain foods, and sometimes from all food, at His command. So, besides our profound prayers upon sleeping and awakening, basic daily experiences (supra), Jewish males are commanded to sleep only in the sukka one week a year, on Sukkot (females MAY do so, with due credit; apparently, whatever sukka is supposed to do for Jews is already found in Jewesses, unnecessary for their mission, or achieved by other means). This law is even stricter than eating in the sukka-- light snacks may be eaten outside it, while even a catnap must be slept in it (see Sukka 25a, 26a, and all the Codes). But one SHOULDN'T dwell in the sukka, if its uncomfortable, e.g. cold and wet, unlike one's home, or if he has to do an important mitzva; some travelers are exempt (see Sukka 25f, Sefer Hachinuch #325). Some, e.g. pupils of the Besht and Reb Levi Yitzchak, were impervious to such discomfort, amidst their religious ecstasy in the sukka-- they ate or slept there, despite cold, rain, etc.

An unusual Habad tradition rightfully generates much criticism from other Orthodox Jews-- Habadniks are extra extra strict re even casual eating in the sukka, tho it is permitted to be done elsewhere, just as one doesn't drink every coke at home (the previous rebbe wouldn't even drink water outside the sukka-- a practice praised by Rambam in M.T. Sukka 6:6, even in bad weather); yet most habadniks completely ignore the mitzva of sleeping in the sukka (the origin of this practice, tho later transformed into mystical categories, may be that one CAN eat in the sukka, tho uncomfortable, in bad weather, but simply CAN'T sleep there then, without constantly awakening). The Rebbe tried to justify this blatant lapse, rather than objectively questioning its validity, or attributing it to weather conditions in Eastern Europe-- see his Sukkot study (hebrew, 5754), critically reviewed in our Sukkot study.

FROM OUR MAILBOX- OOPS! JP religious Zionist columnist Moshe Kohn notes that the halachic advocate of full religious celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut is Rav Meshullam Rath (not Roth).

! Our observant readers, Rav Eliezer Finkelman of Berkeley and Artie Fischer, Bet Shemesh noted that Avraham Ibn Ezra could not have personally helped the editors of The King James Bible, about 6 centuries later; all we can say is that they consulted his writings- would most yeshiva students know this or, in general, the dates when, and places where, their revered masters lived?

From: Samuel Heilman I came across your reference to my work and would correct your reference to Rabbi "Dueck" in your Pinchas discussion. There is no "Rabbi Dueck" in either of my books. You are probably referring to Rabbi Druck, whose photo you found in THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK. Secondly, your quotation: For if you have not put on the mantle of the Talmud, you will understand the Scripture as do all other nations; you will be like them (cf. Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and University Jewish professors of Bible, who follow the Documentary Hypothesis). The Talmud, gentlemen, is our Jewishness; it is our mark of distinction, the emblem of our understanding. We do not "lern" Gemora simply to acquire knowledge; we do it to preserve our Jewish lives'". makes it seem as the reference to "Conservative, Reform, etc." was in my text. It was not. I would never make such a reference and I think you do the original a disservice by so representing it even in the virtual reality of the web. (YF: Sorry- material in parentheses is usually my own and I usually introduce it with "YF"). Sincerely, Samuel Heilman Harold Proshansky Professor of Jewish Studies & Sociology at C.U.N.Y. * * (718)997-2832 or (212) 817- 8772 * fax (718)997-2820 (YF: I recommend all of Sam's books for a better understanding of the Jewish community and religion, both past and present).

From: Warren Zeev Harvey, an article later revised in "Iyyun": "Albo on the Reasonlessness of True Love":

Several recent essays have debated the question of whether a lover loves his or her beloved because of qualities in the beloved, or whether, indeed, true love has no reasons. In illustrating the romantic view that true love is reasonless, authors have cited a letter of the young Sigmund Freud to his future wife, Martha Bernays: "I don't want you to love me for qualities you assume in fact not for any qualities; you must* love me...irrationally." They have also cited William Butler Yeats' poem "For Anne Gregory", in which Gregory wishes that young men could love her "for myself alone and not my yellow hair."

* a nice example of Freud's dictatorial nature, e.g. not allowing his once-Orthodox Jewish wife to practice religious rites as long as he was alive; perhaps he married an Orthodox girl because he believed that she would believe in obeying her husband!

In connection with this current debate, it is apt to mention a discussion by Rabbi Joseph Albo in his popular philosophic work, The Book of Principles (Sefer ha-`Iqqarim), written in Hebrew in Spain in 1425. He agrees with the romantics that true love has no reasons. In Principles, III, 35, Albo, who rejects belief in reincarnation, follows Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics, VIII, 2, 1155b) in distinguishing between three kinds of love (Hebrew: "ahabah") in accordance with three different kinds of reasons, or three different kinds of qualities in the beloved: love of the good, the pleasant, and the useful. For example, a man might love a woman because she is virtuous, beautiful, or rich. However, in Principles, III, 37, Albo parts from Aristotle, and describes a fourth kind of love, which he designates by the Hebrew term "hesheq" (passionate love). He defines "hesheq" as "extraordinary love," or what we may call "true love," and explains that it is reasonless:

The word "hesheq" is applied to extraordinary love without a reason [haflagat ha-ahabah beli ta`am]. Thus, the love of a man for a particular woman in preference to another more beautiful is called "hesheq" because it is without a (YF: conscious) reason (YF: Per Hendrix, in "Getting the Love you Want," one chooses a mate who resembles a difficult parent).. Scripture reads: "The soul of my son Shechem loves [hasheqah] your daughter" [Genesis 34:8]; i.e., even though he finds another more beautiful than she. ... Passionate love [hesheq] has no reason, but is due solely to the will of the lover. The description of hesheq as haflagat ha-ahabah, "extraordinary love" or "exceedingly great love" or "an excess of love," is borrowed by Albo from Samuel ibn Tibbon's translation of Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed, III, 51. However, the crucial addition that this love is "without a reason" is, as far as I know, original with Albo. By stating that passionate love is "due solely to the will of the lover," Albo means that it is not cognitive, but conative; it expresses the lover's pure will, undetermined by reasons. Albo emphasizes that passionate love is not based on any qualities in the beloved. An example of such love, according to him, is that of God for Israel, which is not based on any qualities in that stiff-necked people. In Albo's words:

God's love of Israel is like the passionate love [hesheq] [between a man and a woman] that is without a reason. The entire Song of Songs is based on this analogy between the love [hesheq] of God for Israel and that of a lover who passionately loves [hosheq] his beloved [ha-hashuqah] for no reason at all. This is why Scripture calls this love a proprium [segulah]. It says..."The Lord thy God hath chosen [bahar] thee to be His own proper [segulah] people... Not because ye were more in number...did the Lord love [hashaq] you and choose [va-yibhar] you" [Deuteronomy 7:6-7]. The meaning is that just as a proprium pertains to a species and is inseparable from it, and yet is not to be explained by the quantity or quality of the thing, so this love is in the nature of a proprium attaching to the people not because of their quantity, for "[n]ot because ye were more in number...did the Lord love [hashaq] you." And to make clear that it is also not because of their quality, it says elsewhere: "not for thy righteousness or for the uprightness of thy heart...for thou art a stiff-necked people" [Deuteronomy 9:5-6].

Albo's creative reading of Deuteronomy 7:6-7 seizes on three terms in the text, deftly relating them all to reasonlessness. The terms are hashaq ("did love"), bahar / va-yibhar ("did choose"), and segulah (which in biblical Hebrew means "peculiar treasure," but in medieval philosophic Hebrew means "proprium," reflecting the Greek idion). Albo holds that true choice, like true love, is absolutely reasonless; or more precisely, true love is reasonless because it expresses true choice, which is reasonless. According to his reading, Deuteronomy 7:6-7 teaches that God's love for Israel was one of absolutely free choice, i.e., it was reasonless, and therefore Scripture expresses it by the verb hashaq (and not the ordinary ahab). Albo unabashedly takes the biblical term segulah ("peculiar treasure") in its medieval philosophic sense of "proprium." True love, he argues, has the nature of a proprium. Now, a proprium is traditionally defined as a property that is peculiarly characteristic of a species, but not essential to it, e.g., laughter in the human being.

Some philosophers, including Albo's teacher, Rabbi Hasdai Crescas, considered a proprium to be not merely a peculiar characteristic of a species, but an inexplicable or irreducible one, i.e., one held to be reasonless. Thus, Crescas suggested that the attraction between the magnet and the iron is due to a proprium in the iron "of which we do not know anything, except that it is verified by sense perception." Analogously, one might say, the attraction of the Shepherd to the Shulammite was due to a proprium in the Shulammite, which can be defined only as "the property of arousing love in the Shepherd." 13 Similarly, Simone de Beauvoir could be described as having had the irreducible property of being loved by Sartre. Accordingly, one would not say that Sartre loved her because of her qualities (e.g., the color of her hair, her existentialist doctrines, or her well-bred rangement), but that his love of her was itself one of her distinctive and irreducible properties. Sartre and De Beauvoir might thus be defined by their mutual love (hesheq), that is, by their free choice of each other, no less than by the works they wrote, the causes they defended, or how they looked.

Let me indulge in a theological reflection. Albo teaches that God's love for Israel is called hesheq because it is absolutely free. Going one step further, one might argue that since God alone is causa sui, His love alone can be absolutely free. Hesheq is divine. This would tally with what the "old religious man" in Yeats' poem preaches: "only God, my dear, could love you for yourself alone and not your yellow hair."

Summary: Aristotle had distinguished between three kinds of love, in accordance with three different kinds of qualities in the beloved: the good, the pleasant, and the useful. Albo adds a fourth kind of love: reasonless love. This fourth kind of love is a free expression of the lover's pure will, and exceeds the bounds of the other kinds of love. The lover passionately loves the beloved, even though he or she may know others who are better, fairer, or wealthier. Such, according to Albo, was the love of Shechem for Dinah, of the Shepherd for the Shulammite, and of God for Israel. Such was the love that Freud sought from Martha, and Anne Gregory wished from young men. In Hebrew, Albo explains, there is a special word for this extraordinary, passionate, uncanny, reasonless love. The word is hesheq. The author teaches at H.U.

1. See Michael P. Levine, "Loving Individuals for Their Properties," Iyyun 48 (1999), pp. 251-267, and the literature cited there.
2. Ibid., p. 251.
3. Ibid., p. 253, n. 4.
4. Joseph Albo, Book of Principles, ed. and trans. Isaac Husik, Philadelphia 1946, III, pp. 316-327. Husik's translation will be quoted with changes. Cf. Geroges Vajda, L'amour de Dieu dans la theologie juive du Moyen Age, Paris 1957, pp. 270-271.
5. I am using the phrase "true love" in its romantic sense. In a different sense, it could refer, for Albo as for Aristotle, to the disinterested love of the good, e.g., our love for God, David's love for Jonathan (Principles, III, 35, p. 318; 36, p. 330).
6. Principles, III, pp. 346-347. On other definitions of hesheq by philosophers, see Steven Harvey, "The Meaning of the Terms Designating Love in Judaeo-Arabic Thought," in Norman Golb, ed., Judaeo-Arabic Studies, London 1997, pp. 175-196; cf. my Physics and Metaphysics in Hasdai Crescas, Amsterdam 1998, pp. 101-104, 111-113, 123-125.
7. In Shlomo Pines' English translation of the Guide (Chicago 1963), the locus is on p. 627.
8. The description of hesheq as love "without reason" or "without any reason" appears seven times in Albo's discussion (Principles, III, p. 346, ll. 9, 12, 14, 17; p. 347, ll. 2, 14; p. 348, l. 16). Cf. the modern Hebrew expression "mithasheq li" ("I just feel like it," i.e., for no reason).
9. In addition to affirming that hesheq is dependent on "the will alone" (Principles, III, p. 346, ll. 8-9; p. 347, ll. 14-15), Albo calls it ahabah behirit, "a free love" or "a love due to choice" (p. 346, l. 8).
10. Principles, III, pp. 346-347. Cf. Vajda, p. 273.
11. Albo takes " choose" ( as a hendiadys: He loved you with a freely chosen love. Cf. his description of hesheq as "a love due to choice" (above, n. 9).
12. See Harry Austryn Wolfson, Crescas' Critique of Aristotle, Cambridge, Mass., 1929, pp. 256-257, 565-568.
13. Cynics might say he loves her because she is the "fairest among women" (Song of Songs 1:8), but the context supports the romantic view that he sees her as "fairest among women" because he loves her (cf. 1:5-6).

From: Torah and Science Halakhic Issues relating to Priestly Purity

And Hashem said to Moshe: "Say unto the priests, the sons of Aharon, and you shall say to them: 'You may not defile yourself by the dead amongst your people.'" (Leviticus 21:1)

The law forbidding a Cohen from ritually defiling himself by contact with a corpse, or part of one, or being in the same room with one, applies only to males but not to females. The law applies even to a newly born baby, obligating his parents to prevent him from becoming ritually impure. This rule applies equally to a newborn baby who will become ritually impure for the first time or an adult who, in the course of time, has already become ritually impure.

Magen Avraham (1) and Mishnah Berurah (2) quote Rokeach (3) concerning the pregnant wife of a Cohen. They write that she may enter a room containing a corpse even though she is close to term. They explain that even if it were certain that she would give birth there, and, perhaps, to a baby boy, there is still a double doubt involved. The first, that the baby may be a girl and the second, even if it were a boy, it might be a stillbirth. This is also the ruling of Shach. (4) On the other hand Ya'avetz (5) rules that she may not enter such a room, since, when the baby's head becomes visible, he already becomes defiled, and at that point the second probability of a stillbirth no longer applies. Since this leaves us with only the first doubt, in a question of Torah law, this is forbidden. (6)

At first sight this discussion is no longer applicable today since most pregnant women have routine sonography (ultra-sound) examinations during their pregnancy and the sex of the fetus can be clearly determined in most cases. It would appear that in such a situation a Cohen's wife who is at full-term and who knows that the fetus is a boy should not enter a building containing a corpse. Thus, for instance she may not enter a hospital to visit someone, if the pathology room is not completely separate from where she will be. Similarly, she may not enter a hospital where the rules preventing defilement from a corpse are not strictly observed. The question is whether she is obligated to undergo sonography in order to determine the sex of the fetus, since nowadays this option is available. This is even more so since the possibility of a stillbirth at term is very small. Maharam Chalawa (7) writes that every doubt that can be resolved cannot be considered so, when deciding a halachic question. Mishneh LeMelech (8) writes that the general rule that one rules leniently when there is a doubt in rabbinic law, is only true if the doubt cannot be resolved. This is also the ruling of Shach. (9)

Rav Neuwirth shlita told me that if a Cohen's wife wishes to deliver in a particular hospital because she has a greater trust in the medical staff, or in her own obstetrician who works there, she may deliver there. This is so even if the hospital is not particular about the rules concerning the defilement of a Cohen and she knows that the fetus is a boy. Rav Eliashiv shlita (10) told me that it is appropriate for a Cohen's wife to find out the sex of the fetus, close to her delivery date. If it is a male, she should preferably choose to give birth in a hospital that is not problematic for a Cohen, for instance, a maternity hospital. If she has to go to a general hospital, she should preferably choose one which is particular about these laws, a hospital that removes a corpse immediately from within the building, as opposed to one where the mortuary is part of the main building. (11)

Is it permissible to keep a newborn Cohen in the hospital when there is no medical indication? It would seem that this would depend on the following two views: Rema (12) rules that it is not necessary to tell a completely undressed adult Cohen who is sleeping that there is a corpse in the same room. Since Torah law forbids him to be in the same room as a corpse, every minute that he knowingly remains in the room is considered a separate sin. Thus, says Rema, he should merely be awakened and called to come out, so as to give him the opportunity to first get dressed. Shach (13) explains that this is only so if he is in the same room, but, if he is in an adjoining room, the defilement is only at a Rabbinic level. Although Magen Avraham, (14) Chochmat Adam (15) and Chatam Sofer (16) all disagree with Shach, many poskim (17) support his ruling.

Mishnah Berurah (18) rules that although it is not necessary to take a baby out of a room containing a corpse, it is forbidden to take him into one. Thus in a hospital where a corpse or part of one is present, the baby does not become ritually impure, so long as the door of the nursery is closed. However every time this door is opened the baby becomes impure again, and halacha views this as if he had been taken there each time. (19) Therefore, rules Rav Auerbach ztz"l (20), although the baby and the corpse are not in the same room (but are under the same roof), most poskim rule that he becomes ritually impure by Torah law and he is considered to have been actively "defiled" each time the door is opened. This being so in a hospital where most of the patients are Jewish, the baby should be taken out 24 hours after his birth, provided the physician affirms that this will not entail any danger. See, however, Chelkat Yakov (21), who rules leniently.

Although, as stated above, a Cohen is forbidden by Torah law to either come into contact with a corpse or part of one, or to be in the same room as one, this only applies to a Jewish corpse. With regard to a non-Jewish corpse, contact with it or part of it is also forbidden by Torah law. However, to be in the same room is only forbidden by Rabbinic law. Dagul Mervava (22) and Aruch HaShulchan (23) both rule like Rambam (24), that the corpse of a non-Jew does not defile unless touched. (25) Mechaber and the Rema write (26) "it is best to be careful" and "it is best to be stringent" respectively, implying that this is a Rabbinic prohibition only. Thus, in a hospital where the majority of patients are non-Jewish, one can rule leniently, since a rabbinically prohibited defilement from a corpse may be set aside for a mitzvah,(27), and this is surely more so for a baby who is considered to be non-seriously ill. (28)

Prof. Abraham Abraham M.D., Head, Dept. of Internal Medicine at Sha'arey Zedek
YF: What a complex religion, a sign that it is from the same God who creates a world and inspires technology, both extraordinarily technical, abstract and complex. References:

1. O.Ch. 343:2
2. Ibid., end of 3
3. Vol. 8 # 366
4. Y.D. 371:1. See also Noda BiYehudah Vol. 2 Y.D. # 20
5. Responsa II 207
6. Responsa Radbaz 200. Minchat Chinukh 263:3. Resp. Chatam Sofer Y.D. 354. Resp. Har Tzvi Y.D. #281. Pitchey Teshuvah Y.D. 371:1. Resp. Shevet HaLevi Vol. 2 #205
7. Commentary to Pesachim 4b
8. Laws of Bechorot beginning of Chapter 4
9. Diney Sefek Sefeka veKllaley Diney Sefek Sefeka 110:35. See also Nachalat Zvi end of chapter 110
10. Received also in writing from Rav Efrati shlita in his name
11. The full text of this article was published in Moriah # 5-6 Adar 5757 p 92
12. Y.D. 372:1
13. ibid 2
14. O.Ch. 311:14 and 343:2
15. 159:8
16. Resp. Y.D. 339
17. Yad Avraham Y.D. #372. Peney Yehoshua Succah 21a. Resp. Shoel uMeshiv 3rd Edit. vol. 3 #26 writes that most later poskim rule like the Shach. See also Pitchey Teshuva O.Ch. 343:3
18. 343:3
19. Personal communication, Rav Neuwirth shlita
20. Note on p18 to Lev Avraham vol. I 21:3
21. Resp. vol. 1 #28
22. Y.D. 372:2
23. 343:5
24. Tuma'at Met 5:11
25. See also Resp Rebbe Akiva Eiger 2nd edit. 18. Resp. Maharsham vol. 1 #215 and vol. 2 #233. Resp. Avnei Nezer Y.D. #468
26. Y.D. 372:2
27. Ibid 372:1
28. See Machasit HaShekel O.Ch. 338:1. Resp.Chelkat Yakov vol 1 #27

The Israel Interfaith Association is holding an interfaith shabbat at Tantur in Gilo this Shabbat. Spiritual singer Rav Yehoshua Engelman represents the Jewish point of view, in light of his unique outlook- call 6203251, fax 6203388, or e-mail - See . Rav Rabbi Menachem Fruman and Sheikh Abu Salih first met at the "Holy Land" seminar held by IIA in Ashkelon - since then they have hardly separated. Rabbi Fruman, Rabbi of the Tekoa settlement near Bethlehem and one of the founders of Gush Emunim, and the Sufi Sheikh Abu Salih of Dir Qaddis, near Ramallah, immediately found a common language, as people whose main interest is the spiritual realm. Their first discussion started spontaneously and continued deep into the night with many of the seminar's participants as an audience.

My wife has been writing up local life for some years, and has published a book of her letters and photos of the Old City ($25). Here's her latest: 7 May 2001: On Remembrance Day, at just the right moment, I dropped something off at a neighbor's and I just happened to walk past Gal Ed, the place in the Jewish Quarter that, during the War of Independence, served as a common burial plot for all those fighters, women and children who could not be brought out of the besieged Old City for burial. While ceremonies took place at this hour throughout the land, at cemeteries, at monuments to the fallen, in schools and on army bases, at this spot in the Jewish Quarter a similar ceremony in remembrance to the fallen was held, with high school students reciting readings. One of the fighters of the War of Independence, Haim Zelniker, dramatically told the group about the fall of the Old City in 1948, and how he had had to operate a rifle with one wounded non-functional hand. At exactly 11.00, a siren was sounded for two minutes throughout the land. Haim stopped his story, and we all stood in motionless silence. The wailing siren bounced and rebounded off the four walls of the small square. I'd never heard it this loud. It sounded as if the siren was sounding from the building next to us. The monotonous wail entered our beings. Was it wailing... or were we? Have you ever been in a place where an external sound seems to emit itself from your own body? A blue and white flag was lowered to half-mast. This ceremony, like those throughout the land, ended with Hatikva. That evening, we went over to Menachem Zion. There, too, we commemorated Remembrance Day, and, like the national ceremony on Mount Herzl in west Jerusalem, which was shown on television, where seven activists in volunteer organizations each lit a giant torch, so, our community chose seven activists in volunteer organizations to light the seven torches. Avigail, in her second year of National Service, and also a volunteer in Yad Sarah, was chosen to light the sixth torch. Of course I felt proud to be her mother.

However, I was more moved by the lighter of the seventh torch: Rachel was a teenager when she was transported from Hungary and thrown into Aushwitz. Miraculously, she survived. Today, she is a grandmother busy with her many grandchildren in Jerusalem's Old City and in Gush Ezion, In addition, her oldest daughter served as Israeli Ambassador in Estonia and various other countries, and today serves as Israeli Ambassador in South Africa. Rachel exemplifies the concept, "from ashes to rebirth in our Land." I am honored to have her as a neighbor and friend. After a festive Ma'ariv, we gathered for the continuation of the evening with a festive meal at Mount Zion's Shulchan David. We love celebrations there. The buffet always has a variety for every taste, and the setting, with halogen lamps highlighting the lush foliage and flowers under a giant plastic tent, is always so inviting. The evening's speaker, architect David Cassuto, who was instrumental in bringing a beautiful, antique Aron Kodesh from Italy to Menachem Zion many years ago, also exemplified the concept, "from ashes to rebirth." He told us of his childhood in Florence, Italy, of his closeness with his grandfather, the Chief Rabbi of Florence, of his being hidden by Catholics during the War. He told us how his grandmother came to visit him and directed him to eat their non-kosher food, and how he was reunited with his family in pre-state Israel after World War II, and he related many more stories of his fascinating life.

As I was walking out of Jaffa Gate towards the bus stop one afternoon last week, I saw large posters being erected alongside the City's walls. I later learnt that these posters comprised an international exhibition organized and developed by the Museum on the Seam for Dialogue, Understanding and Coexistence in Jerusalem. An international jury chose these posters, 23 in all, from hundreds of works submitted by designers from all over the world. This travelling outdoor exhibition, said one of the giant signs, will reach many major cities throughout the world, and will stay in each city for about one month. Some of the cities hosting the exhibition have a history of violent confrontation and division, and this project was initiated to help alter patterns of distrust and violence that have existed for many years.

Most of these cities have heterogeneous populations where, the giant sign claims, their citizens are slowly learning to live together and respect what is different about their neighbor. This exhibition is intended to make people think again about mutual respect, tolerance, dialogue, and non-violent solutions to conflicts. Is such a thing possible, I wondered. Can art affect the way people view their enemy? Can an exhibition on coexistence actually promote its subject in reality? Is any Arab going to think twice about shooting my son in the Reserves because of an exhibition of colorful posters with the word "coexistence" written in English? (YF: Probably not, but it may start him thinking about the concept, perhaps resulting in peace way down the road). In fact, on this morning's "culture corner" on the radio, I heard that one of these posters, with a crescent for the letter "C," a Magen David for the letter "X" and a cross for the letter "T" had been slashed.

Luckily, all the letters were black on a white background, and when I walked past at noon, it had been repaired with white tape, unnoticeable from a distance. Had I not heard about the slashing on the radio, I might not have noticed it altogether. So, let me share with you some of the graphic details: the first poster you see as walk out of Jaffa Gate was designed by Takaaki Fujimoto of Japan. On a huge olive green face on a white background, he painted black eyebrows, eyes, noses and mouths in different directions. "Coexistence" is written in black on the bottom. On the other side of this poster is one by Jaroslav Sura from the Czech Republic. Didn't that used to be Czechoslovakia? This is a black and white poster with red lettering depicting hands stretched out towards each other with "coexistence" written out between them.

The next is by Long Gang of China: black, long eye-lashed silhouettes facing each other on a yellow background. Do people in China prefer yellow? I especially liked the next one by Polish Andrzej Pogowski: long-beaked black birds with one white bird among them. Quite a few used the black/white theme. The many black with the one white, or alternately, one black and one white. But if only life were that black/white simple! Obviously, all questions of non-coexistence stem from such complex, deep-rooted difficult situations. A road, with an arrow in each of the two lanes, each going in the same direction, was a poster I saw on the grass below the walls last week, waiting to be erected. This expresses another form of coexistence: maybe we can never meet, never face each other, but at least we can walk, travel, alongside each other in relative harmony.

Chaz Maviyance-Davies from Zimbabwe designed this poster. His name caught my interest: is he half African-Black, half White European? Do his parents represent the meeting of two cultures? If so, why would only he, of all the artists, see the road of the parallel rather than the meeting? Another poster that made me smile was Uwe Loesch's from Germany: on the left is a dustpan; on the right a brush. Across the top is written: "coexistence: to bi or not to be." But who in the non-English-speaking world would get the humor? Not your average Israeli. Not your average Arab. So, as much as this exhibition brightens up our city, and maybe distracts motorists on the road - there are also posters on the bridge over the road by Jaffa Gate - who knows if it will have any positive effect? Lag B'Omer, Jerusalem Day and then Shavu'ot will soon be with us. So - Hag Same'ach!

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