Thursday, June 28, 2007

Heksher Tzedek and Torah

I've just been thinking about the deal with Moses and the mountain. After spending many days on the mountain, Moses came down carrying the two tablets. When he finally came into range of other people again, he became so enraged at what he saw that he smashed the tablets on the ground.

Perhaps it is that the more time people spend on mountains, the less they can relate to everyone else, the less patience they have with human failings. There's the story in Judaism of the rabbi and his son who studied Torah for years as they hid in a cave in order to escape the Romans. When they came out they were so lacking in compassion that God made them go back into the cave until they could change their attitudes, which to my way of thinking means they finally truly learned Torah.

It seems to me that when those who claim to be very religious isolate themselves from the world, they merely become more and more critical of everyone who isn't them rather than becoming more holy. There seems to be little patience with differences and the language used when talking about others? Truly appalling. Is that really what it means to be religious? In my view these actions have again left Torah shattered on the ground only the people around don't even seem to realize. They guard these broken pieces like hawks and hinder anyone who attempts to climb the mountain to get whole tablets again.

Perhaps Hechsher Tzedek will get us past these obstacles so that new, whole tablets will finally reach all the people; tablets which will be carried with compassion and righteousness rather than with derision towards, and judgment of, others.

Maybe that's the story of the red heifer, too. It's not the impure that makes pure, the pure that makes impure, it's the perception. In order to be truly pure, truly holy, you have to be around what you might consider 'impure'. If you try to stay away from the 'impure' because you think you're so pure, you yourself will become the truly impure. Perhaps the story of the red heifer has nothing to do with actual purity or impurity, but is only about what happens to us depending on how we interact with those around us.