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LEVITICUS — 16:2 any

LEV170 Yose ben Yohanan of Jerusalem said: … let the poor be members of your household; Pirkei Avot, Perek 1, mishnah 5. The kind of hospitality that our Torah requires is possible only when we look upon the poor and on our obligation to them, as if they were members of our own household. Charity indeed begins at home, but the "home kind" of charity should not end there. The Gaon of Vilna once approached a wealthy man for a contribution for a destitute family. The man countered by paraphrasing a verse from Psalms: "I perform acts of tz'dakah at all times," (Psalms 106:3) implying that his continuous giving absolved him from making any further contributions. Amazed, the Gaon asked him how he managed to give charity constantly. The rich man, very satisfied with himself, opened the Talmud and pointed to the Rabbinic interpretation of this verse, "who do charity at all times" -- that it refers to one who feeds his young sons and daughters (T.B. Ketuboth 50a). Determined to answer the man in kind, the Gaon replied with a smile, "But there is another passage in the Torah which reads, 'Let him not come at all times to the Holy Place' [this verse]. He who hides behind the excuse of the Rabbinic interpretation of 'at all times' can never attain holiness." Taking care of your own family does not absolve you of your obligations to the poor who turn to you. But not only must you consider your obligation to the poor as compelling as your obligation to your family; you must actually treat them as such. "Let the poor of the members of your household." Do not demean the poor individual or humble him. His having to accept charity is humbling enough. Do not add to his sense of estrangement. When he comes into your house, make him feel at home. Part of the duty of hospitality is to convert the poor into members of your household. (Continued at [[DEUT470]] Deuteronomy 10:19 strangers SINAI1 56-7)


LEVITICUS — 16:3 sanctuary

LEV172 The Kohen Gadol shall perform the special avodah of Yom Kippur. Out of kindness towards His creations, Hashem fixes one day of the year for atonement for their sins, provided that they repent. Were there not such a day of atonement, His creations’ sins would accumulate and after two or more years the world's guilt would be so great that the world would deserve to be destroyed. In His great wisdom, in order to keep the world in existence, Hashem provides one day a year when those who repent can gain complete atonement for their sins. Hashem set this day aside for atonement and sanctified it as such at the very beginning of time--when He created the world. After He designated this day and sanctified it for this important purpose, the day itself became vested with the power to assist in bestowing atonement. Thus, our Sages teach, “Yom Kippur atones.” That is, for certain minor sins, the day itself provides that atonement.


LEVITICUS — 16:3 this

LEV173 Simeon the Just as one of the last survivors of the Great Assembly. He used to say: The world stands on three things: on Torah, Divine worship, and acts of love and kindness. Pirkei Avot, Perek I, mishnah 2. … this great Sage emphasizes that the three pillars upon which the world of Judaism rests are Torah, the study and fulfillment of Torah; avodah, service to God, and g'milath hasadim, man's kindness in action to his fellow man. This three-fold characterization of Judaism is contained in the famous High Holiday prayer: "Penitence, prayer and charity avert the severity of the decree." Penitence is possible only where a knowledge of Torah induces a sense of guilt; prayer is, of course, the service of the heart (it too is called avodah in Hebrew); and charity is the implementation of g'milath hasadim. The importance of this teaching for the modern Jew lies in its call for totality and balance. Too often today we meet the person who trumpets forth the size of his charitable contributions and proclaims: "So long as I give charity and exhibit a generous heart, I can safely ignore the elements of Torah and avodah." We also have the person who maintains that since he goes faithfully to the synagogue every single day, he is absolved from giving to charity. What Simeon the Just would have us remember is that one is required to be a total Jew by making a total commitment to Torah, avodah, and g'milath hasadim. In the High Holiday prayer that we mentioned, the Mahzor [prayerbook-AJL] reproduces three words above the three subjects of the sentence. They are tzom, fasting; kol, voice; and mamon, money; these are approximate synonyms or associated terms for penitence, prayer and charity respectively. However, these three additions when regarded from the aspect of their numerical value [gematria-AJL], are actually equivalent, each consisting of 136. Any two together, therefore, equal 272, and all three total 408. With this in mind, we can offer an interesting interpretation of the verse, "A man of brutish instincts (ba'ar) does not know, and a fool will not comprehend this (zoth) (Psalms 92:7). The numerical value of the word ba'ar is 272, and the numerical value of zoth is 408! Substituting for these multiples of 136, meanings in terms of our triad --penitence, prayer and charity--we emerge with the points just made. We are acquainted with a man who does not know, ba'ar--272, who ignores two of the required three principles. And we even know of the fool who does not comprehend zoth--408, all three of these pillars of Judaism. There are people who feel that by remaining loyal to only one aspect of Judaism they are fulfilling their obligation. But surely this is foolishness! We can extend this approach farther, and in a similar manner interpret the verse, "With this, b'zoth, Aaron shall come into the sanctuary" [this verse]. Only with the "408" – – with the total of all three activities, should the cohen gadol, the high priest enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur. Should he approach the Almighty with only a part of the totality of Judaism, then he cannot adequately represent his people. Anything less than total Judaism is a truncated Judaism, an unbalanced version. Judaism, in a sense, resembles a tripod, a structure resting on three legs. Remove any one of the three supports and the structure will collapse. If a person be learned but not observant, if he be charitable but not disposed to worship, then he cannot possibly experience a full religious life. Such defective religiosity is bound to be shaky and is destined to topple.


LEVITICUS — 16:4 dressed

LEV174 Pride leads to destruction, and the man or nation that boasts superiority soon begins to attack others. Lack of humility begets hatred; hatred begets strife; strife leads to destruction. The more one criticizes oneself, the greater one is. The ideal man is pictured as one walking through life humbly, doing his duty come what may, without thought of self-glorification. The extent to which the crowd was held in abomination by the Rabbis can be gauged from their teaching that "a scholar who is proud is like a carcass lying in the streets; those who pass it by, turned away in disgust" (Abot d'R. Nathan ii.). The reason, according to the Mishnah (Yoma vii.4) why the High Priest was not allowed to officiate in his garments of gold on Yom Kippur was a reminder that God was not to be worshiped in the panoply and regalia of majesty but in simplicity of humility, attired in plain linen garments [this verse, Zevachim 88b, Hullin 5b). Because of their haughtiness, the generation of the Flood merited destruction (Sanhedrin 108a). If a scholar will scorn humility, warned R. Judah (in the name of Rav (Pesachim 66b)), his learning will depart from him; if he be a prophet, he will cease to prophesy. Addressing the thorn-bush from which Moses first heard the Voice of God in the wilderness when tending the sheep of Jethro, a Talmudic Rabbi thus apostrophizes: "O thorn-bush! Not because thou art the highest of all trees did God choose thee as the scene of His revelation unto suffering mankind. On the contrary, thou wert chosen because thou art the lowest among them." (Shabbat 67a). Humility is especially fitting to Israel (Haggigah 9b; Nedarim 20a) to walk about haughtily is to insult the Shechinah (Berachot 43b).


LEVITICUS — 16:9 offering

LEV175 Expiation demands a ritual, some dramatic representation of the removal of sin and the wiping cleaning of the past. That is clear. Yet Rambam [Maimonides] does not explain why Yom Kippur demanded a rite not used on other days of the year when sin or guilt offerings were brought. Why was the first goat, the one on which the lot "To the Lord" fell and which was offered as a sin offering [this verse] not sufficient? The answer lies in the dual character of the day. The Torah states: (Leviticus 16:29-30). Two quite distinct processes were involved on Yom Kippur. First there was kappara, atonement. This is the normal function of a sin offering. Second, there was tahara, purification, something normally done in a different context altogether, namely the removal of tum'a, ritual defilement, which could arise from a number of different causes, among them contact with a dead body, skin disease, or nocturnal discharge. Atonement has to do with guilt. Purification has to do with contamination or pollution. These are usually two separate worlds. On Yom Kippur they were brought together. Why? As we have already noted, we owe to anthropologists like Ruth Benedict the distinction between shame cultures and guilt cultures. [Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (Boston: Houghlin Mifflin, 1946] Shame is a social phenomenon. It is what we feel when our wrongdoing is exposed to others. It may even be something we feel when we merely imagine other people knowing or seeing what we have done. Shame is the feeling of being found out, and our first instinct is to hide. That is what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. They were ashamed of their nakedness and they hid. Guilt is a personal phenomenon. It has nothing to do with what others might say if they knew what we had done, and everything to do with what we say to ourselves. Guilt is the voice of conscience, and it is inescapable. You may be able to avoid shame by hiding or not being found out, but you cannot avoid guilt. Guilt is self-knowledge. There is another difference, which explains why Judaism is overwhelmingly a guilt rather than a shame culture. Shame attaches to the person. Guilt attaches to the act. It is almost impossible to remove shame once you have been publicly disgraced. It is like an indelible stain on your skin. Shakespeare has Macbeth say, after his crime, "Will these hands ne'er be clean?" In shame cultures, wrongdoers tend either to go into exile, where no one knows their past, or to commit suicide. Playwrights have them die. Guilt makes a clear distinction between the act of wrongdoing and the person of the wrongdoer. The act was wrong, but the agent remains, in principle, intact. That is why guilt can be removed, "atoned for," by confession, remorse, and restitution. "Hate not the sinner, but the sin" is the basic axiom of a guilt culture. Normally, sin and guilt offerings, as their name imply, are about guilt. They atone. But Yom Kippur deals not only with our sins as individuals. It also confronts our sins as a community bound by mutual responsibility. It deals, another words, with the social as well as the personal dimension of wrongdoing. Yom Kippur is about shame as well as guilt. Hence their has to be purification (the removal of the stain) as well as atonement. (continued at [[LEV153]] Leviticus 14:7 open SACKS 187).


LEVITICUS — 16:16 sins

LEV176 Whoever does not firmly contend against those who stand on the path that is not good and draw [themselves] towards transgression [Tehillim 35:5, Yeshayahu 5:18], will be punished for their iniquitousness and for their sins [this verse; Chatas is the term used for inadvertent sinning), and he has violated a negative commandment, as the pasuk says (Vayikra 19:17), "Do not bear a sin because of him." The pasuk further says (Hoshea 10:9), "Since the days of Giv'ah you have sinned, Yisrael. They stood there – they would not have achieved in Giv'ah a war against the children of iniquity." What this means is that had this generation been there it would not have gone out to war in Giv'ah to eradicate the evil, as that generation had (See Shoftim (chapters 19-20), where the Jewish people went to war against Binyamin due to the terrible crime perpetrated in their city of Giv'ah). ("They stood there," [should be interpreted] as, "If they had stood there," as in Bereishis 44:22), "He will leave his father," i.e., "If he will leave." (I.e. The word "if" needs to be added.) The intent of the pasuk is that the sin of their generation was similar in nature to that of Giv'ah; yet, the generation of Giv'ah was superior to them, for they assembled together, willing to give their lives to eradicate the evil. The pesukim [verses -- AJL] also say (Shoftim 5:23), "'Curse Meroz,' (the inhabitants of Meroz did not come to Deborah and Barak's aid in the battle against Sisera) said the angel of Hashem, 'curse--cursed are its inhabitants--for they fail to come to the aid of Hashem sham, to the aid of Hashem against the mighty"; and (Devarim 1:17), "Do not be afraid of any man." (I.e., do not be afraid to stand up to Hashem's protagonists, even if it means creating dissension." (Continued at [[EXOD994]] Exodus 32:26 come GATES 235-6)


LEVITICUS — 16:29 afflict

LEV177 An analysis of the Jewish attitude to asceticism must begin with the Bible. Does the Bible favor excessive fasting? ... The Pentateuch enjoined only a single annual day of fast, Yom Kippur. The phrase "You shall afflict your souls" [this verse], a synonym for deprivation of nourishment, might conceivably have given substance to the notion that self-affliction is a meritorious practice. Such an assumption is erroneous, as is evidenced by the twin commandment relating to Yom Kippur: "And you shall do no manner of work in the same day" (Leviticus 23:28). Surely there is no merit to abstention from work except in the context of a formally established religious observance. The same is true of the abstention from food. Fasting was regarded by people as an expression of intense contrition, as a symbolic ritual of self=sacrifice, or as fervent prayer for divine mercy and forgiveness. Due to the physical severity of fasting, it was instituted only on the most solemn day of the year. Eventually, it was resorted to on occasions of major emergencies. Although there was no dearth of emergencies in the days of Moses, there is no mention in the Pentateuch of any public voluntary fast aside from Yom Kippur. … Biblical approval of fasting is clearly limited to special occasions. "Affliction of the soul" on a regular basis is contrary to the "preservation of life." At no time does the Bible allude to fasting as a recommended virtuous practice for people of piety and zeal.


LEVITICUS — 16:29 day

LEV178 The Leviticus text (16:29-30) is one of the most basic about Yom Kippur. The first verse establishes the key element of the law: a fixed calendrical assignment, the practices of rest and affliction, and the inclusion of all who live among the people. We have already discussed the last, in the context of Rosenzweig’s interpretation and in general with the issue of translation. We might find in the concept of the resident alien (pilgrim) some light on the reconciliation between people. And in our last chapter the importance of the calendrification will become clearer. But R. Elazar [ben Azariah] [referring to Mishnah, Yoma 8:9 - AJL] is looking at the next verse. The verb CLEANSE is used twice, and the grammar causes some confusion. I would suggest that the plain sense is to insert a break between SINS and BEFORE. The second clause, then, is the resulting cleanliness before God that the atonement and the cleansing of the Day brings. The problem in the verse is that if in the first part the Day does cleanse the people, then the second part is redundant: of course they are cleaned before God -- before whom else could they be cleaned? R. Elazar, however, pushes against this break, and interprets FROM ALL OUR SINS BEFORE God, YOU WILL BE CLEANSED. R. Elazar, therefore, argues that the first time the root TO CLEAN appears, it concludes the phrase by stating that the purpose of the Day is to cleanse. The second half then explains not that the cleansing is before God, but that the relevant sins are those committed before God. Hence, R. Elazar restricts the sins to only those before God, and so claims that the interhuman ones are not cleansed by the day. The first half refers to the appeasement of the companion, the second to atonement before God. Why does the Mishnah need R. Eliezer’s interpretation? What is novel is not that the Day atones, but that the Day cannot atone for the sins between people. The Mishnah is substantializing a category of interhuman relations (we might call it ethics), and separating it from a category of sins against God. If we are right, however, to say that the ethical infractions also partake of sin against God, we still have the production of a category that would be characterized as social sins, and the remedy includes working things out with someone who has been harmed. The other person is clearly in control: he must be satisfied. The point is not that before the Mishnah was edited, Judaism did not know that when another person has been hurt, I must first satisfy her. Rather, the formalizing of this concept helps to focus my attention on the social repair. The recourse to the Biblical interpretation both authorizes the new category and allows us to see its novelty.


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