middot cleanliness torah
torah

torah (3)

Friday, 15 July 2011 16:41

off with the dross

Written by rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-drossThe third haftarah of admonition comes from Isaiah 1:1─27. In this portion Isaiah brings charges against the people from God, calling them to remove the stains of bloodshed and oppression.

Sunday, 01 May 2011 00:00

counting and cleanliness

Written by rabbi russ resnik

art-omercal"And the Lord said to Moses, Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready by the third day; for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai." (Ex. 19:10–11)

As we continue to learn mussar through the days of sefirat ha-omer (counting the omer), we can see some helpful parallels between the two topics. Mussar is all about spiritual preparation and progress, and so is sefirat ha-omer, if we understand it properly. One tradition views this period—the transition from Passover, season of our freedom, to Shavuot, season of the giving of our Torah—as providing time for the newly-freed Hebrew slaves to rise up from their condition of bondage and become ready for the revelation of Torah. Some rabbinic sources speak of 49 levels of impurity that they needed to transcend. But even apart from that specific interpretation, it makes sense that it would take time to shed the slave mentality enough to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. The cleansing of garments that the Lord commanded at the end of this process culminated seven weeks of cleansing that led up to it.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010 13:03

unsmudging the soul

Written by rav rafael

art-handsThe book of Leviticus (Vayikra) contains a set of passages (chapters 12-15) often skipped in our study due to their unpleasant nature.  I am ever fascinated by the laws of purity contained in these pages.  The Holy One teaches Moses who may come near the Divine Presence which is manifest in the Tabernacle. One must be tahor (pure/clean) in order to come near the Mishkan.  Tahor denotes not a physical purity, but a purity of soul, a cleanliness of spirit.  The opposite spiritual state, tamei (impurity & separation) indicates that a barrier has been placed between the human soul and the Divine.

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