Friday, April 18, 2014

Lernen' Toirah Is a Guttah Zach!

                                                           Parashas Acharei Mot
                                                    Ger Code: Millennium Edition
                                                              Rabbi David Katz

Caution! This article is not for Gerim, Jews, Noahides, ill-hearted, queasy, easily sickened, soft, fickle, or any other temporary movement/condition(s) placed upon man [by man]. This is a scholarly article for the Lover of God, one attempted to be written clearly for one purpose, and one purpose only: to settle the score among legions of Gerim of every label across the globe, and to satisfy those whose souls love the Ger and truly want resolution on matters – bringing rectification to chaos. Our good friend Parashas Acharei Mot happens to be the hub of explaining these delicate matters, particularly in its commentaries of the "Sifra" and "Torah and Mitzvah" [Rav and the Malbim]. The "code" is in these classic works, and I will attempt to illustrate, highlight, articulate, translate, and every other –ate in the book [pun intended], in order to make order in a chaotic World that is the Ger in the Chumash. It is not that hard, it just needs diligence and patience to see this through to the end. May God be with me in thought, pen, and action[, and speech come class time] to finally bring this sacred wisdom out to the non-Hebrew speaking World once and for all. Baruch Hashem.

You will need to set uninterrupted time aside and apply ultra focus for this article.

Audio shiur will GREATLY elucidate these matters and eliminate complex issues.

***Article Agenda: To know and become familiar with the authentic absolute tools necessary for instilling a common vernacular and uniform same page understanding of all topics relating to the Ger, enabling all to navigate the [ancient] textual world of the Ger contained in the Five Books of Moses, and Her purest and most authoritative classic commentaries that exist in traditional Jewish Yeshivish literature.***

***I will begin with a translation, and I will endeavor each extended tangent with a road map and compass that will lead us back onto the super-highway, upon investigation of each rest area. Never forget our goal – TO UNDERSTAND THE GER TZEDEK and thus all references of Gerim.

The Sifre [Talmudic Time Period Midrashic/Halachic Commentary on Vayikra] explained through the Malbim:

[Vayikra 16:29 –"This shall remain for you an eternal decree: In the Seventh Month, on the 10th of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and you shall not do any work, neither the native nor the Ger who dwells among you."]

Sifre: "Ger" – this is the Ger; "who dwells" – to include the Ger women; "among you" – to include women and slaves

The Sifre wants to use this Ger reference as the source of all Ger exegesis in the Torah, and take issue with its perplexing context; just who are these Gerim? This rings true not only here, but everywhere in Torah! Consider the following the source material to understanding Ger code, and for the record, the tradition thus would have it that the Ger of Yom Kippur is an eternal light, to all who seek to know the Ger.
"And the Ger who dwells among you"

[Malbim explaining Sifre's explanation of our Ger]

…there is a difference between the letter "heh" that precedes the Hebrew term for "THE Native" -  in reference to all Natives, and between the letter "heh" that precedes the term "THE Ger." The "heh" before the Native is a definite article referring to all, whereas that which precedes the Ger is a definite article used for distinction, for there is Ger Tzedek and Ger Toshav, and both of them are called Ger, just as used "for the Ger that is in your gate, you will give it to him, and he shall eat [Re'eh 14:21 – one of the main roots of Ger that is NOT a convert perforce] – this is a Ger Toshav and notice that there is no "heh" before the word Ger, rather a term, "in your gate" – a Ger Toshav expression.

However the Mechilta [a likewise work as Sifre, only on Shemot] states this same "code" as used in the 10 Commandments [Jethro 20:10] states strikingly that this is a "Ger Tzedek!" [Rashi agrees with this] – But then the exegesis continues [likewise in Yevamot 48b] really?! – is this not a Ger Toshav? The commentator then suggests that it is indeed a Ger Tzedek and the Ger Toshav [who keeps Shabbos, as explained in the 10 Commandments] reference to Shabbos is specifically referenced in Mishpatim 23:12; Mishpatim is seen as the perfect inverse to the Ger Tzedek of 10 Commandments. [Notice, that the 10 Comm. Learning of Ger Tzedek breaks protocol and labels the Ger of the Gate as Tzedek and Mishpatim with the "heh" as the Toshav!?! – Rashi takes this ironic position, and the Ramban follows classic code and switches the order to be as predicted. The question is, why does the Rashi view (that contains Mechilta and Yevamot) break protocol?  - while Ramban poses no threat to our code condition of the gate Ger is Toshav and the "heh" preceding Ger is Tzedek]

To answer this, the Malbim answers by leading into our next example! Parashas Kedoshim 19:10 mentions the Ger, and states that he must be a "ben Brit" [circumcised]; the Malbim teaches this is a Ger Tzedek by circumcised. Now to gain context into this circumcised Ger, back track to our previous discussion about the Ger and Shabbat [as explained by the Talmud Yevamot and Mechilta] and investigate the comparison made there in context of the Ger. He is compared to a slave who is either circumcised or not circumcised in order to gain clarity on the type of Ger [not to assoc. with slavery in terms of the Ger, but rather what he has in common with a slave, for the slave is mentioned in the verse in direct proximity of the Ger. Thus the rabbis see the common bond is the relevant circumcision or lack thereof]. Thus the conclusion is that the Ger is circumcised for the slave in context is circumcised, and hence he must be a Ger Tzedek. The Parashas Mishpatim Ger who keeps Shabbos [for other reasons] is Toshav, and compared to a non - circumcised slave, thus he is not circumcised. Learn from this a circumcised Ger non-Jew is called Ger Tzedek, for he has advantages of his circumcision [Eating of the Passover Offering].

Fast forward to our Malbim now in Kedoshim, and he is compared to a Levite in regards to circumcision. The context is in "don't taunt the Ger"  [which applies to all Gerim] followed by love the Ger who is like the Native among you; for ya'll is one common law. This is a Ger Tzedek, he is circumcised, and as obviously this does not turn away from the convert, but also one must realize it INCLUDES our non-Jewish circumcised Ger Toshav friend who now has a non – law term attached to him for the sake of accentuation and merit – Ger Tzedek.

Further in our own Parsha 17:13-15 – "any man of the Children of Israel and of the Ger who dwells among them who will trap a beast or a bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with the earth. For the life of any creature – its blood represents its life, so I say to the Children of Israel 'you shall not consume the blood of any creature; for the life of any creature is its blood – whoever consumes it will be cutoff.' Any person who will eat a bird that died or was torn the native or the Ger he shall immerse his garments and immerse himself in the water…"

Malbim on 17:15 - …this comes to exclude Akum [non- Jews and non -Gerim], and we already explained in Achrei Mot [our verse] that every mention of the word Ger [alone] can either be a Ger Tzedek or Toshav…and in order to clarify this confusion, we must learn the individual unique matter clearly always! Here since it mentions the Native, and the verse has a one direction theme in content and context, it must be speaking about the Ger Tzedek, for the simple meaning of the verse and its logical progression and assembly is uniformly expressed as such; this is its simple meaning, and the Ger follows simple meaning, Pshat. Thus through the exegesis of all of a verse's contents the Ger must follow the simple uniform consistent flow of thought. Again, this is not to exclude the convert, for it is illogical to say a Native isn't a convert! The rule is though, to include the Ger Tzedek non-Jew who is like a Native, for reasons we will delve into now. And to remain consistent with the style of the Malbim, he has now addressed the Native and the Ger issue from our previous verse through elucidating that topic here. For he continues in Acharei Mot after quoting the verse about the blood, "you may make a mistake and think that verse is speaking about a Ger Toshav; should it have been Toshav, it would have tipped us off somewhere in the verse with a revealed hint [perhaps the word Toshav would appear] letting us know which Gerim are in context; this would prevent error between Toshav and Tzedek confusion."

The Malbim brings another case of distinction of Gerim, showing that this is not a matter of religiosity, but rather place of residence. A Ger can [and by definition] be one who takes residence in a place not of his own, whether by coming from afar, or by already being nearby. The Canaanites were nearby, and thus when they took on Seven Laws for Torah reasons, they were considered Ger Toshav. However one who comes from afar to take residence in the Land [see Vilna Gaon to Haazinu] and wishes to live on the land according to the proper way the Land should be lived, he is termed a Ger Tzedek and is obligated in all commandments, yet as the Vilna Gaon points out, he is still termed a non-Jew [until he converts should he wish to]. Ironically and confusingly, both are called simply "Ger" – and thus as the Malbim points out each Ger must be understood in context and within Pshat of every verse to ascertain who he is. We must look for signs, like "the gate" – letter "heh" – words like Native, Toshav, or in assoc. with slaves, women, etc. in order to gain polarity of what the Torah is trying to convey.

 He ends this segment that simply put, the "heh" is generally a reference to Ger Tzedek and w/o the "heh" leads us to search the other parameters of the verse. [It should be noted that the side commentaries of note on this subject that are most interesting and found in the Hebrew Chumash editions are Rashi and the Sifsei Chachamim – for Rashi in a subtle way points out these distinctions and the Sifsei in an also subtle way shows how the Ger references are usually an inclusion of both the Jew and non-Jew perforce, for he shows with logic that to exclude one simply doesn't work].

The Malbim from here goes on to show how the "heh" is for Ger Tzedek, and primarily men, as the grammar is masculine, and thus the usage "dwelled" [in Hebrew it is roughly Gerr-ed] by the grammar change, comes to include Ger women, thus alleviating the circumcision issue, and thus posing no problem in exegesis.  The Malbim ends his commentary here, by showing that the last distinction of Ger Tzedek as a non-Jew [also in terms of convert, i.e. not an exclusion] can be depicted through tenure. 

One who is new might be a Ger Toshav, whereas a Ger Toshav who has been at this for a long time, has "many days by him" and thus is a Ger Tzedek as a type of merit, and to not confuse him with a Ger Toshav, who lets say is planning on fully renouncing idols in the next hour [he has spent his time learning Torah in preparation for this moment of joining the likes of Israel].

The Malbim to Kedoshim 19:33 in context to our verse of 'don't taunt the Ger' and Love the Ger like the Native lists the 46 mentions in Torah of "take precaution of the Ger." Most if not all, as much as they apply to the convert, they apply to some form of non-Jew whether he is a normal Toshav or more Native like and thus considered Tzedek as a term of affection and merit for his sacrifice to join with the Shechinah.

The last main hub-extension  of the Malbim on this issue takes place in Parashas Behar 25:35 [The Malbim references our Acharei Mot verse, as do all of our extensions] – and he leads in as we would suspect [the verse states: if your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter in your proximity – you shall strengthen him; Ger and/or? [This point needs the commentary and makes all the difference as we will see] Toshav so that he can live with you.]

"…every 'Ger' mention must be known through inspection if it is Toshav or Tzedek.." and he brings our Acharei Mot code learning to prove that here [notice the code! No gate, no "heh" and the inclusion of the word "Toshav!"] Is a case of obvious Toshav. Rashi uses the "and/or" to include the Ger Tzedek as does our Sifra, unlike the Talmud's view on this being only Toshav, for he reads it: Ger [Tzedek], and [Ger] Toshav…thus one can clearly see, there is creativity in how one see the Ger code in exegesis, for one could just as easily read it Ger and Toshav as one thing like the Talmud, or as  Rashi hears it in a terse manner, and thus brings in Ger Tzedek and Toshav; this is of huge consequence!  For the Talmud will learn you shall not take interest in loans from a non-Jew whereas Rashi and Sifre learn that the Ger Tzedek [convert and well immersed non-Jewish Ger Toshav functioning meritoriously as Tzedek – this avoids an obvious desecration of God, for should one dwell with Israel after an accumulation of years, God forbid one takes from him interest, especially when he is keeping more than the prescribed seven laws, notably circumcision and Shabbat!] is the one we shall not take interest from, whereas through exegesis we shall not include the Ger Toshav under this precaution. 

We see from this where Halacha is involved, the outcome is more severe in what we call an individual, yet we have been shown through the Malbim and Sifre many examples that we are obligated to weigh out for this reason!

It is said that we do not have a Ger Toshav today, and where this is correct is in all circumstances that would relate to this verse of interest should that be the Halacha. Today, this would not be in effect, for we do not have the means to carry out the law. But Ger Toshav and Tzedek in terms of other mitzvoth, circumcision and Shabbat in particular, as well as living on the Land while keeping the Torah command of the Land [farming laws] should be seen as one of the greatest mitzvoth we can do and gaining  huge merit in the art of making Gerim to praise God's Holy Name!

In essence, the term Ger Tzedek unlike Ger and Toshav [which is Biblical] is a term much like Chasidei Umot HaOlam, for they are rabbinic terms to explain not just one train of thought, but an entire idea, culture, and philosophical view…it is a point of distinction with context and love and grace. The Chasid [credit the Rambam for coining the phrase based on King David and later the Talmud] depicts a non-Jew who sacrifices for Israel, is in a dynamic relationship with the Jew, etc…thus the Rambam [Issurei Biah 14:7 – also the source of Ger Toshav existing today! As opposed to 14:8, which explains the Ger Toshav of FULL BIBLICAL STATUS] by using this term in this way shows the dynamic and heavily laden context with the Chasidei Umot HaOlam – they are in this with the Jews thick and thin. The Ger Tzedek is a similar term – for it tells a story; it is the journey of the Ger, and it can take many shapes and forms. If the Torah warns 46 times to Love the Ger, then one should not be surprised to find 46 usages of Ger Tzedek and each one being unique and precious!

In closing, in our Parsha is the verse 18:5 - "you shall observe my decrees and my laws, which 'Adam' [Man] shall carry out and by which he shall live – I am Hashem. The Talmud says the term 'Adam' means – a non-Jew who learns Torah is compared to a High priest. Thank God. Thank God for Gerim, for God loves the Ger, and so should you – to the tune of 46 times in the Holy Torah. The Ger Tzedek and the Chasid of the Nations depict all that is right in learning Torah. Indeed; and no code here, just Pshat [Torah's Simple Understanding] ladies and gentlemen, however God asks that we learn every part of His Torah this way, and for that, there is only one solution – Love the Ger.

In conclusion, we have seen many variations and degrees of the Ger in numerous arenas of Jewish Law, thought, and distinction. As the Malbim pointed out, and this being the most essential - the point of this article, is that to know the Ger, one must explore to the depths and roots of every Ger mentioned in the Torah on location in order to ascertain the nature of any particular Ger. This is only complex when we take the matter as a whole, such as was done in this article. However, should one research Ger references from an aroused interest, it is my deepest desire that this article will empower each student driven in these matters, to plumb the depths of the Ger and bring light to the World through his research - made possible through the "code-revealed" style and commentary of the Malbim as presented here. Amen, may it be His will.

Class God Willing Motzie Shabbos 11 P.M. Tzfat Time


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