Friday, May 17, 2013

Gerim: Keeping The Holy With The Temple

                                                                     Parashas Nasso
                                                Serving God as Righteous and Holy Gerim
                                                                    Rabbi David Katz

In Parashas Nasso the Torah introduces its readers [Nasso 5:6] to a new Ger concept termed by the Talmud and Rabbinical writings, “Gezel HaGer” – the sin of trespass upon God’s Gerim. This is seen in the Torah as a very serious crime – to the extent that the proper restitution is a proper course of Torah defined repentance accompanied by confession of sin, full financial reclamation, etc. all to be in association with the Temple should the Ger become deceased. God clearly demonstrates His deep Love for the Gerim in this law, and not only does the institution of the Ger in Nasso set the tone of the entire Parsha as one with a Mazal triggered Ger-theme from beginning to end in the Parsha [as all of the topics are associated with the Ger by way of secrets and hints according to laws of Torah exegesis called, “Pardes” – simple, hint, expounding, and secret understandings in Torah], the law beckons the deep secrets of the Holy temple and Priesthood that are illuminated by God’s Gerim [i.e. the Gerim who are in nature to the Rechabites and Kenites; Holy Gerim who occupy Holy institutions amongst Israel].

The case of the Torah [as mentioned above] that sets the precedent for all such relationships with the Gerim in the mundane realm [and such that it lends its vessels by extension into the spiritual dimension of society as well] is the classically termed “Gezel HaGer” – stealing from the Ger, and as one could imagine, this obviously allows for investigating the nature of the Ger. As with any Ger [law-based] Torah, the range of Gerim can extend from the quite literal ranks of Toshavim who are “slaves”/indebted – servants, “” – to God while life’s dedication to the Temple, Gerim of the Gate, all the way northward to the Ger Tzedek, and venturing into Judaism proper as full converts. The Gezel HaGer then comes into focus in Nasso, as to provide focus and context into the nature and levels of Gerim within practical applications, such as theft.

[*Torah operates in “Mazal multi - tasking” called Pilpul (understanding the matter within the matter), thus as Chazal state that the repair of Adam/Man is rectifying theft, Gezel HaGer postures itself as a viable cog in analysis and methodology of how to perform the repair, through performance of this (Ger) opportunity under the premise of mazal and the Ger.]

The case of Gezel HaGer in its simplest form is the procedure of restitution of the Ger should he be wronged by an Israelite Jew. The standard law states that the Jew must repay the Ger in full along with other steps to assist in his repentance, and is in relation to the many cautions of the Torah that stress the guarding of the dignity and love of the Ger. 

Where the law becomes a “which – type - of - Ger - are - we - talking - about - discussion” is in relation to where the victimized Ger has passed on before the culprit was able to lend restitution. It is precisely this point that the Torah commands that the possessions shall be divvied up amongst the Priests on duty and to be considered under government of Law and gifts to the Priests and must follow the standard protocol as such. The reason for the Priest entering the discussion is that this stipulation of law is only enacted once the Ger is seen to have no kin, which is a common scene amongst all Gerim. One must deduct exactly which Ger [and in relation to the nature of kin /Gerim] has a complete association and relevancy to the law under fire, as to be precise in Torah law while avoiding a Chilul Hashem, and unnecessary backlash from misappropriated statutes emanating from carelessness and lack of astute scholarship within required practice of identifying Gerim.

Although the nature of carrying out this law to the upmost degree of accuracy would most probably require a Beit Din when ascertaining the finer points of the Ger [i.e. which exact blend of Toshav, as we conclude that the ideal Ger of the statute in a Ger Tzedek], the standard operative playing field would yield the Ger Tzedek, leaving the Ger Toshav as a possibility and subject to resolving doubt. The Ger Tzedek [Righteous Ger] is the primary agent in Nasso, as his righteousness is predicated on accepting the full and entire Torah, thus making him applicable and sensitive to Torah reality and all of the concurrent situations that come from Torah, as being in deep relation to the Jewish People and their daily government. The trigger point for the Ger Tzedek is that he is considered as absolutely having no kin, as he is technically [by his own volition] devoid of stranglehold in  both the Gentile and Jewish Worlds, making him a true by definition Ger Tzedek. The convert and Toshav are lacking in this degree namely because the Ger may have an easier acclamation process into the Jewish World while the gentile has kin, and are simply not Jewish, and not recognized under this law.

Now that we have properly identified the Torah portion’s Ger [Tzedek] and eliminated the obvious and perhaps non – relevant, we can begin to gain  ground on just who is this Ger Tzedek and perhaps begin to understand his comrades under the heading Toshav, and what is the essence that ultimately drives the Ger.

The Ger Tzedek as we mentioned before is subject to analysis in Nasso for the primary reason that he has accepted the entire Torah [and has not converted; details as to why to follow] and thus he is a practitioner of Torah on a realistic scale and way of life. This dynamic has certainly left him as a true Ger, i.e. with no real kinsmen. The gentile World is philosophically opposed to Torah ways of life, and for this, the [“Head” of] Torah itself is called a Ger by rabbinic writings. The Ger is governed by a different law, court, and ultimately a different God – for the Ger is first defined as having renounced Idolatry.

Once idolatry has been renounced, the Ger Tzedek will fall under categorical distinction as having accepted all of the commandments [as valid and true Torah as understood by Jewish Law and tradition] along with the Seven Laws of Noach as Moses instructed at Marah and Sinai along with the appropriate Oral Torah [which is the basis of authenticity of Torah and its Law]. Among other qualities of the Ger Tzedek, is that he will be keeping some extent of the Torah upwards to its near entirety – save for eating exclusively kosher meat, as is the mandate for a Ger [Toshav – Tzedek]. By doing as such, he has sanctified the mystical significance of Moses’ breaking of the Ten Commandment Tablets, in that it is the “downfall” that is actually the ascent, as the Ger who eats “trief” [non-kosher meat] is expressing that he has accepted the entire Torah as seen by the Torah command as such to the Ger Toshav [Tzedek] and thus he is and isn’t a full Torah Jew at the same time. This is called in the mystical sense “coming from the Mouth of the Almighty as ‘I heard two from one voice’ and elicits a universal repair to the World when expressed on an ultra - macro platform.

Thus the Ger Tzedek plays and operates under Torah law, and is thus connected to the Jewish Nation, the Priests, the Land, etc. as he now knows no other reality. For the Ger Tzedek can grasp on an acceptance level any statute that comes his way as the operative measure of Torah governed society; he is clearly a member of the Jewish People as a proper Ger Tzedek. The liberties he enjoys come under such distinctions as aiding with the Red Heifer and association with matters of Temple – Purity & Offerings, Shabbat observance [w/indulging in “soul food labor”], etc. 

The best way to express the Love of the Ger on this level is by observing the letter “Shin” that grace a Jewish Man’s Tefillin [of which the Talmud states that this mirrors Hashem’s Tefillin, i.e. as seen in spiritual reality terms through Jewish Mazal – a spiritual emanation trail that ultimately connects to the Creator] that mystically has Four branches [paralleling the secret of the First tablets and the letters that can be seen on both sides; the two letter Shin’s of Tefillin accentuate the white and black fire woven together] representing the Righteous Gerim.

Of final note, the reason why there exists a term of “Ger Tzedek” for this type of person under the gentile distinction as opposed to the Jewish convert [of modern conception] is that in his root and essence he may not be able to ever convert; and this is where the Ger Toshav and Ger Tzedek actually meet and become inseparable. In basic law, all sources still consider him to be a Ger Toshav on some level and yet he reveals the secrets of the Holy Temple that shall stand for eternity, for he brings light to the whole Torah and Priesthood, while echoing the Shem – Abraham union that blueprints this concept as the pattern of Creation [and ultimately making “Yichud” (one-ness) with our Parasha Nasso].

The Ger Tzedek who can’t convert, suffers from the duress of his Toshav status; simply: he can’t function beyond his call of duty. Parashas Emor brings down a lesser known law of the “Toshav-Kohen”, one who is sold to the Priest as property. It is often understood that a Ger can in fact become destitute and be sold to the Jew as a servant like any other servant of this type, although the Ger is different; this is his calling and shall not convert.

The Ger Tzedek of the Temple is such that his soul utterly rejects all that is not God. He can’t convert, for Jews are required to provide a standard of successful living in this world as a basic tenet of Jewish Survival and comes with the territory of the Jewish soul, which any convert would ultimately have to recognize from within, as a signal that he is indeed converting. On the flip side of things, he doesn’t function as a gentile either, for the basic premise of derech eretz living [living off the land; craft and ingenuity] and a world of dollars and cents/sense is simply far too mundane to be involved with. Simply put: The Ger Loves Hashem and Hashem Loves [all] Gerim. To this extent, he is not impoverished by way of being inept, rather, he simply is intoxicated for Hashem and longs for a lifestyle that is dedicated to Temple Service.

The Torah comes with an entire infrastructure for the Gerim on this level, and he is essentially the blood that circulates from within the Holy Temple that lubricates God’s Divine Machine. This is easily explained and imagined when the Torah says a Ger who learns Torah is like the High Priest; as the Priests are the Torah’s authentic and preferred “rabbis” as per their Blessings in the Torah. The commentaries explain that the natural domain for the Ger is ironically “as a Priest” [while not coming from the seed of Aaron, rather Shem], and as such he is seen to grasp and absorb the teachings of the Priest [see Malachi 2:7] to the point of a performance level.

We know that historically and in many law-based cases, the Gerim take part of the Temple services and practices. The love drawn Ger by means of his own mazal, will find himself immersed amongst the Priests, glued to Hashem and His Temple, and their scent [Vilna Gaon Shir Hashirim] will fill the halls of the Temple as the waters of intellect sweeten the bitter World beyond Israel’s boundaries. To put it in simple terms, the Ger Tzedek may very well simply be: a Ger Tzedek by every definition, and perforce his home is amongst the Priests in the Temple as opposed to being among the Judean lions. The Torah calls him [in parallel language] a Ger Toshav [implied Tzedek].

Parashas Nasso is unique in that we can find all of Israel amongst her words; as the Midrash points out in many flavors the various roots in subtle places of Torah personality amidst the Parsha. You may be a Ger, King, Prophet, Nazir, Priest, Warrior, etc. Everyone is in Nasso, and Hashem commands Moses to “Take a census of the Levites of Gershon” – a root in the Holy Tongue for marriage, while the end of the Parsha sees the Tabernacle standing erect by the hand of Moses, as the pivotal moment [of inauguration] in Creation where Hashem is fully bound to his marriage of Israel; all that came before and what will be after in the relationship were predicated on a dwelling for Hashem below in our Temple-driven/defined existence. 

How much sweeter will the anticipated Third Temple’s inauguration be, a reality built by the hands of God, as told through the additional merit of the Gerim, who properly are the underlying unified theme of Parashas Nasso. The Jewish People have never - not known the Ger Tzedek, yet it’s Parashas Nasso that aims to simply bring to light what we all intuitively know in hearts -  the Jew and the Ger are as inseparable as body and soul…which one is which, is then rendered a moot point, for on that level – [the Temple permeates] Hashem is one, and it is heard throughout ALL of Israel, and responded by Baruch Shem Kavod Malchuto Le’olam Va’ed. Amen.

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Wed 11 P.M. Torah of the Ger Series
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