Friday, April 19, 2013

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Parashas Acharei – Kedoshim
Like A Holy High Priest Amongst Us

Rabbi David Katz

In this week’s Parsha [Parshiot] there is an absolute wealth and abundance of what may be perhaps the richest Noahide/Ger Torah in existence. The concepts range from observance of Yom Kippur, the relationship between the Ger and meat consumption [A Ger is defined by a meat standard that is given to him as the basis of the bridge of charity between the Jew and the Ger. This quite literally opens the door to an entire culture of how the Ger would operate in his kitchen in processing food, as one of Torah’s main topics is understanding meat and its properties; meat is the subject of “Yoreh Deah” – the classic rabbinic ordination program. The fact that the Ger is joined in the prohibition of blood, which begs for his proper education is mind boggling as to the potential for wisdom into the domain of the Ger.], “a Ger who learns Torah is compared to the High priest, “Love your fellow man”, love the convert [who was a Ger, and is now a Ger Gamur (a finished Ger)], don’t taunt the Ger, etc. One can clearly see the implications at this juncture in the Torah, and the years to come will be exciting once we reach these sacred Parshiot in Torat – Kohanim; however for the duration of this current article, we will delve into the Ger who is compared to the High priest when engaged in learning Torah, and how this has direct implications into his daily life on a [intellectually] moral level, as he strives for holiness in his priestly service.

The Talmud Bava Kama [38] cites a famous discussion of the Ger derived from the verses in Vayikra 18: 4-5 in that a Ger [Nachri; someone coming out of idolatry who still straddles the fence in many regards, if not intentionally, then as a subject of duress due to lack of specific knowledge] who is occupied with Torah is compared to the High Priest, as the term “Adam” [Man”] is referenced in Hashem’s adjuring “Adam” to keep his ways, i.e. through Torah and its learning. Under the heading of “Adam,” the Talmud explains that any range of people, spanning from the Nachri to the High Priest share in the nomenclature “Adam” and are all appropriately fit to learn and consume Torah.  What we shall find, is that it is the Torah that leads the Ger into the domain of this “Adam;” as the Ger becomes enveloped with the affiliate Wisdom, he will leave the non-kosher world of yesteryear behind, as he walks into new paths of righteousness with endless possibilities, while shedding corporeality of a limited perception [of even the Noahide Laws that while uncommitted, served as a shackle and chain towards death.

The Commentator the Rosh comments on the famous Ger Toshav passage [Avodah Zara 64b] that a Ger Toshav of the slightest sense [he who is a Nachri abroad; only in Israel is he deemed a Ger Toshav (ger TOSHAV) by merit of denouncing idolatry and maintaining consumption of unkosher main] is effectively only halfway out of his non-Torah ways, and as such he will find himself buried in a death penalty on his journey, by simply just not knowing enough.

The Rosh goes on to explain that the further he commits himself to Noahide laws, Torah study, and Jewish familiarity in a Holy setting [where the Jew has a mitzvah to engage in holy and Torah matters] death is removed, and he merits to be a truly Righteous gentile of the Pious of the Nations, and if he so wishes he may decide to be a Ger Toshav [GER toshav]. He effectively has a golden ticket to become whatever he may so please, as the gates of righteousness open to receive him to the extent he wishes to enter, either, heart, body, or soul. The Ger simply has the power to remove death from the World, coupled with the Jewish cooperation and axiom, “charity saves you from death.” The Ger is then empowered with a mastery of Hashem’s Torah and ability to walk erect in righteousness, fearing not of death due to ignorance, having made it his duty to know Hashem and His ways. The Nachri who chooses not the path of Torah will find himself with many accusations that he will fail to rise up against.

For this the Talmud urges [even] the Nachri to learn and be [even] occupied with Torah. Such service of God will bring a sense of enlightenment upon the Ger and an attraction of the Jew, due to realized revealed common affairs in Torah. This new dynamic will pull the Nachri along on his path, and the Talmud praises him for his additional commandments [either proper acceptance Seven laws of Noah, or northward to any set number of Torah precepts that he may wish to take on for himself, enjoying full liberty of his being compared to a High Priest occupied with service of God] with the comparison to the High Priest. The Talmud [according to commentary – Maharsha] points out that the Ger when learning about commandments actually will embody the makeup worthy of the performance; for example learning about Offerings [which he may absolutely take part in, and should be noted is well beyond the scope of the normative “7 – law- limit-stay-in-parashas-noah-mentality”] will inspire the Ger to actually emulate the High Priest in his nature.

Along with learning Torah on this level, the Torah will affect the Ger in all areas of life, but perhaps none more important than his mind and ability to perceive [Hashem and his divine logic countering limitations within man]. The Torah makes a tremendous hint in this area by placing the Torah command upon all of Mankind next to laws of immorality, which the Talmud Sanhedrin makes mention that the Ger [World] will/has adopted these prohibitions in a way paralleling the Jewish command.

It is interesting to experience the two radically different paths each nation takes to achieve the same degree of holiness. The for all intents and purposes is straightforwardly commanded as such [to be holy, and not to profane through illicit affairs], and his opportunity for mind expansion in the study and restraint from immorality is evident in the specific Talmud on these issues, as a source for inspired learning, such that it even serves as a major basis of construct in the World to Come.

The Ger on the other hand, takes a different path to achieve the same goal, such that one could suggest it is the exact inverse of the Jewish tradition. Where the Jew is simply given a complete referendum and then is obliged to use his mind to experience the Light of holiness, the Ger must use his mind [from the holy light he has ingested from the study of Torah] in order to come to the straightforward command. The two unique experiences enjoyed by both Nations present the always schism for the sake of repairing schism, and yields distinct and unique identity to two legions of God. In this light both are holy, both are learned under Torah, and both see their fruits in this World and the Next. The stumbling block that is to be avoided due to logic of man in face of God and High Intellect, is to be aware of positive and negative principles in learning, i.e. male and female distinctions of the Torah mind; faculties of Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge. One must keep in mind the tone of God’s voice, being able to ascertain if this is command or good counsel.

The Jewish indoctrination to Holiness through prohibition of immorality [Arayos] comes as straight forward command while the path of the Ger [in this area] is largely derived from good counsel. This connection between the Learning Torah precept being juxtaposed with Arayos illuminates a wealth of revelation as to the nature of each, in and of themselves, joined or in isolation. The clearest example that expresses this entire idea is the true nature of the six forbidden relationships of the Ger. It would seem that there should be more, and with applied Torah focused for the sake of achieving “Man” one will uncover not only the Jewish equivalent [albeit by another approach than the straightforward], but the search and journey will yield exponential revelation that is relevant in every area of Torah, worthy for both Jew and Ger.

This is just one dynamic pitted against the infinite. One can ponder how much Torah can bubble up and surface from within the Ger when he commits to Torah in his unique way, and when in close proximity with the Jewish Nation for the sake of benefit and development that strengthens them both eternally. [* both camps suffer stunted growth through the exclusion of its counterpart; history is case in point, while this example is made possible via being conscious of both paths simultaneously and mutually]

The loophole in Noahide Arayos is the exclusion of the Father – Daughter union in the degrees of separation. This is a Kabbalistic necessity [based on “Wisdom nests in Malchus” – “father dwells with daughter” in the imagery in kabbalah; this model follows the true wisdom corresponding to the next world where evil is non-existent, and carries a different connotation, similar to the secret of Abraham and his sister/wife] and subject of discussion Talmud Sanhedrin. The Noahide simply is a reflection of Kabbalistic truth and recipient of Hashem’s deepest [and hardest to comprehend] kindness, as evidenced by this odd exclusion, as perceived by logic of man.

However when one examines the full scope of discussion, beyond one’s wildest dreams in terms of capacity to understand by breath of Torah knowledge, the equation eventually equates, and only by stretching beyond the realm of possibility. For the natural separation from this type of Arayos “correcting” God’s loophole, one must realize that there are commands beyond God’s Seven Laws, much like “pilpul” [God’s spice to Torah, Torah of Shem] where one experiences understanding the matter within the matter. The Journeyed Ger will find beyond Seven Laws, an oral tradition accompanying the law, three laws of nature from wisdom, thirty messianic laws, ten statutes of creation, etc.

Like a treasure hunt, the Ger must conceive of his entire universe in order for his black and white world to enjoy shades of grey. For the unbalanced and risky nature of his good counsel [that poses as shoddy command; again, divine logic in face of mortal logic] one must open his entire being to the light of God and take in his universe, as this is his inheritance! [Beyond his wildest dreams!] To such an extent he will find a highly complex and mechanically sound World that can only operate and exist by the hand of God. The Ger’s displeasure with God is in his disobedience to pursue God. The Ger who truly seeks to walk the universe on a path  of righteousness will merit to witness the Divine, ironically similar to permitting that which should be obviously prohibited; only now it is beyond one’s dreams and is a bestowal of the most holy – truly in alignment with the subjected material  in rectified element.

Thus the entire World is commanded in the study of Torah. The Jewish people were once Gerim, who were charged with spreading Torah for the benefit of Mankind, to help them reach their goals of enjoying the rights of Man. For the Jew to maintain course, he must adhere to the Torah, for he was once a Ger as well! The Ger is placed by God in every situation and domain, all for His glorious End of Days, when the revelation of God will fill the universe, and the Ger – Jewish Brotherhood will thrive into eternity. The Torah shows no predisposition as to who has the right to experience this light, as it clearly states that the Nachri should learn Torah – AND LIVE! His life is destined to look and feel as the High priest enjoying full status of “Man” as he was created in the image of God.

Let the Nachri serve as the eternal remembrance to those that ever lived - they lived on account of the Word of God, as he daily speaks to Man. The job of Man then is to unify “MANkind” so that we may enjoy His light together and forever such that no one is left behind. For that, Torah must fill the universe, and it will, for it says, “in those days the Land will be filled with the knowledge of God. Thank God, Thank God for His Torah, and thank God for His Torah that brings to light Mankind, Amen.





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2 comments :

Brandyn Ashing said...

Wow, This is an awsome article. Thanks.

From my experience:

[Nachri; someone coming out of idolatry who still straddles the fence in many regards, if not intentionally, then as a subject of duress due to lack of specific knowledge]

-I found the wisdom of Solomon help a lot when I was in this state. It is emotionally and mentally not an easy task to come out of idolatry.

and as such he will find himself buried in a death penalty on his journey, by simply just not knowing enough.

-This was the case

The Rosh goes on to explain that the further he commits himself to Noahide laws, Torah study, and Jewish familiarity in a Holy setting [where the Jew has a mitzvah to engage in holy and Torah matters] death is removed

-I have been a Noahide for 10+ years and I can not remember at what 'exact' point death was removed. I will say, I do not believe, it was in the knowledge of righteous gentiles attaining the world to come. It was something fundamentally deeper than that. If I wagered a guess it was in the fundamental knowledge that G-d may 'care' about me. I used to pray often "G-d, thanks for caring about me... if you do". I would add the "if you do" even though I felt G-d was somewhat displeased with my doubt. I could not point to a place in Torah and say "See, G-d loves the gentile also" until recently.

“charity saves you from death.”

-Yes, it is possible that death (in my mind was removed) some time after I started to give to Charity.

The Ger on the other hand, takes a different path to achieve the same goal, such that one could suggest it is the exact inverse of the Jewish tradition.

-The Ger learns one thing from childhood and then must 'unlearn' those errors that he learned. This unlearning process is similar to the Jews learning process only it comes with much emotional turmoil.

Thanks for the article.

Goldie ZP said...

I will second Brandyn's WOW.

I am learning so much. I am eagerly soaking in all this knowledge - restraining myself from jumping ahead to the most recent posts -

Thank you Rabbi Katz for giving over your knowledge. The emes one knows should always be given over to others. Once I master this knowledge, I will be able to give over more easily to others. I look at the ger differently now. Yosher Koach!

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