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Archive for Abril de 2010

Fa unes setmanes, quan varem començar la lectura del llibre de Levític, vaig escriure una entrada en aquest blog sobre la diferència entre la lògica d’aquest llibre i la lògica occidental. En aquell moment vaig explicar com aquesta diferència explicava les dificultats que sempre experiment com a lectors occidentals quan llegim el Levític.

El text d’aquesta setmana és un perfecte exemple d’això. El text d’aquesta setmana, Akharé mot i Kedoixim (Lv 16-27), és el que podem anomenar el cor de llibre de Levític. Els rabins esperen arribar al capítol 17 per compartir els seus ensenyaments més preuats en comentar aquest capítol que anomenem tècnicament el “Codi de Santedat.” Com no hem de trobar “santedat” en aquest capítol quan  llibre ple de sang, sacrificis animals, pureses rituals, lepra, i altres coses similars?

En la lògica de l’autor del llibre de Levític, la secció d’aquesta setmana és una muna d’or d’oportunitats. Per a la nostra lògica, el text és un embull que no acabem d’entendre. En qüestió d’uns pocs capítols, el tema de conversa va de la celebració del Xabat, a honorar els pares, a no cometre idolatria, a fer sacrificis animals. Llavors, gira completament per a parlar de lleis del món agrícola, disputes de caire civil, amb el “no robaràs” i “no enganyaràs,” per passar a parlar de contractes i ser justos amb els treballadors, respectar la gent amb problemes físics i ser imparcials en el judicis. Finalment saltem a temes del cor, com no odiar el proïsme sino estimar-lo. En conclusió, aquest text és el que podríem anomenar un calaix de sastre!

La diferència entre Levític i Gènesis o Èxode és que aquests dos darrers llibres  tenen un fil argumental que facilita la seva lectura mentre que el llibre de Levític sembla ser un llibre desorganitzat, preocupat per rituals, però també ens ensenya sobre la importància del context perquè en el centre de tot aquest ritual hi localitzem la voluntat de voler ser justos. AL darrera de tot sistema legal, hi ha la lluita per la Justícia.

Done’m uns quants passos enrere i guanyarem una mica de perspectiva. Aquí és on tenim la clau: els conceptes que trobem en el Codi de Santedat són considerats per molts com paral·lels als 10 manaments. “De veritat?!” us esteu preguntant.

A que aquestes paraules us sonen familiars: “Jo sóc l’Etern, el vostre Déu, que us vaig fer sortir del país d’Egipte.” (Lv 19:36) i després llegiu “No us decantareu cap als ídols ni us fareu déus de fosa. Jo sóc l’Etern, el vostre Déu.” (Lv 19:4) Després llegiu l’equivalent del 3r manament a Lv 19:12 “No jurareu en fals en nom meu,…” i ara llegiu la segona part de Lv 19:3 “observareu els meus dissabtes” seguit per la primera meitat del mateix verset “Tothom respectarà la mare i el pare.”

Em creieu ara? Podeu veure els paral·lels amb els 10 manaments? Tot el que cal és tenir una mirada crítica i una mica de tacte per a llegir el text i amb paciència acaba sorgint un sistema ètica que comença a merèixer el nom de Codi de Santedat.

Si estiguéssim parlant del llibre del Gènesis, us hauria explicat aquest fenomen com una narració antiga conservada en el relat que actual. Però aquesta regla no funciona en el llibre de Levític. Prefeixo comparar-ho amb una imatge extreta del món de la càbala, en concret, de la introducció del llibre del Zohar. Allà trobem la imatge de la rosa i els seus tretze pètals.

Imagineu-vos que la Torà sigui un jardí, i les lliçons espirituals més brillants que la Torà té per a ensenyar-nos fossin com roses en les que hi ha capes i capes de significats. Si el Codi de Santedat és com una d’aquestes roses, cal que pelem els pètals un per un per a veure que en queda. El pètal més petit i el més interessant està en el centre.

Hi ha diferències entre els 10 manaments i els paral·lels que trobem a Levític. Aquestes diferències no són significatives en els 5 primers manaments que dicten el comportament entre la humanitat i la divinitat, però sí són molt més evidents quan examinem les nostres responsabilitats envers el proïsme

La incasable repetició de “No explotaràs el teu proïsme ni l’espoliaràs” que trobem a la primera meitat de Lv 19:13 ens ensenya a no robar i no apropiar-nos d’allò que no és nostre a través de frau o l’engany, i a no robar els nostres veïns. I la segona part del verset continua “No retindràs el jornal del treballador, de la nit fins l’endemà.” És a dir, des del punt de vista de Déu, no pagar el treballador és igual que robar.

El Codi de Santedat és molt més que un simple joc de paral·lels o un eco dels 10 manaments. De fet, és un comentari. Els 10 manaments és una llista de coses permeses i prohibides. El Codi de Santedat és un jardí variat de versets que ens ensenyen què vol dir ser sant. Ens ensenyen que la Torà no és un llibre de lleis, sinó una sèrie de lliçons sobre la Justícia.

La santedat és el desig de justícia, no només de fer el que és correcte, sinó, a més, desitjar que sigui justa. La santedat és independent de la nostra edat i circumstàncies. La santedat és el somni d’un món millor i el desig de voler fer realitat. La santedat és el compromís de viure a fons les paraules que en el cor de la Torà: “Sigueu sants, perquè jo, l’Etern, el vostre Déu, sóc sant.”  (Lv 19:2)

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When you come to the Land and you plant any food tree, you shall surely block its fruit [from use]; it shall be blocked from you for three years, not to be eaten. And in the fourth year, all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the Eternal. And in the fifth year, you may eat its fruit.

(Leviticus 19:23-25)

We live in a material world. For many of us, life focuses on increasing our property and we are told that the winner is the one who gets more toys. However, this mitzvah teaches us how to avoid the alienation imposed by that limited reality. Before engaging in any task, we must sanctify. Our actions are not intended for self-satisfaction or the satisfaction of selfish needs. Rather, they should be motivated by higher and more noble purposes. However, once sanctified, we can fully enjoy and benefit from the fruits of our labor. Here the goal is not asceticism but a transformation. It is to integrate the divine presence in our own individuality, our personality and our daily life. This explains why the harvest of the 4th year is designated as “a praise to the Eternal,” and can be consumed only in Jerusalem, so that the 5th year is our personal property without special sanctification. Yet it is precisely this fruit of the 5th year which is given as a reward for the abstinence during the first 4 years.

A HASSIDIC HISTORY

In a small town lived an ascetic. Every day, over 50 years, he deprived himself of any excess food and drink, subsisting by a system study of Torah. Only in the evening, after prayers, did he allow himself to eat bread and a little water. One day, the Besht (Baal Shem Tov) visited him. He met him, absorbed in study in a corner of the schoolroom of the shul. The Besht approached him and asked him with joy “How are you?” and he also asked “and what appeals to your needs you?” Raising his eyes from his book and looking at what appeared to him as an ordinary peasant standing before him, the ascetic nodded and returned to his study.

Given the persistence of Besht, the ascetic was angry. Pointing to the door in anger, he ordered him to leave. But the Besht did not comply. “Why are you depriving God of sustenance?” He asked the ascetic. Realizing the ascetic’s puzzlement, the Besht explained his question: “God sustains the Jews by providing them with their sustenance. But how is God sustained? About this, King David says in his Psalms: “And yet you are Holy, crowned by the praises of Israel.” When the Jews recognize all the good that God brings them and praise God for it, they provide God with sustenance! Also, by skipping this opportunity to praise God, the Jews deprive God of sustenance!”

We might ask ourselves, why is it important that every Jew helps to “meet God’s needs”? Did the ascete not play his role by studying the Torah with such diligence? Would it not have been more appropriate to ask about his spirituals needs? Rather, why did the Besht choose to question him about his physical needs? In order to understand this, we need to understand first the divine purpose in creation. After creating a vast and wonderful universe, The Eternal concealed inside Israel as the Bible says “to reside among us.” In order to help the Eternal to accomplish this goal, we need to search for God in all places. By revealing the Divine Presence in a world we believe God is absent, we recognize that God is leading the creation and that God reigns over our universe (melech al kol ha-arets).

The hermit in question had managed to find God in the Torah but it’s obvious! Is not The Torah a trace of divine wisdom? The Besht sought to encourage the ascetic out of his ego to explore new horizons, not according to his own criteria but according to those on which God is based. He teaches the ascetic to consider that in every aspect of creation, including those more materialistic, there is a Divine Presence.

Similarly, our text teaches us the reward we deserve for observing the laws of the Orlah,  when the Eternal will ensure “that it may yield unto you the increase thereof.” Contrary to the 4th year, the fruits of  5th year have no sanctity in themselves. But here is the crucial point! The Eternal does not wish to be found in the things that come out of the ordinary, but well within the daily experience of our lives! Similarly we recognize that the fruit on our plates, as ordinary as it is, arrived there by intervention and special blessing of God, and we insert God into every detail of our lives. By combining the Eternal in every aspect of our existence we help to accomplish the purpose in the creation of the universe.

OUR CONDUCT – warmth and enthusiasm

We are back to the sacrificial rites related to the Temple. Our text talks about the mitzvah of covering the blood. After performing the shechitah, slaughtering an animal or a non-domestic bird, kosher of course, the Torah tells us: “Vechafe’h and damo vekisséo be’afar”, “he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.” (Leviticus 17:13) .

This precept does not apply to domestic animals, that fall into the category of animals to be brought on the altar for which there is not need to cover their blood. The reason has been given in the preceding verse: “For the life (nefesh/soul) of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar” ( Leviticus 17:11) The term ‘nefesh’ means the level of the soul from which existence and physical life depend on. Although nefesh is present in each body part, and even in inanimate matter, blood – whose role is essential in maintaining life- is the main element at the corporeal level. The blood of animals offered in sacrifice is collected to be sprinkled on the altar as part of the atonement ritual which is at the roots of the the sacrifice.

Thus, when the shochet slaughters a bird or a wild animal hide, where this practice does not exist, then he should take the blood on the ground and cover it in order to cancel its preeminence. In fact, the Torah allows two forms of shechitah / ritual slaughter, (1) that of kodashim or “holy things” referring to the sacrifices, which can be performed in the temple, and for which there are varying degrees of holiness, and (2) that of “Houlin”, or “profane,” meaning that the meat is the food for the body.

Blood, in general, represents life and heat. As the blood brings life to the part of the body, so it means a spiritual sense of vitality and warmth. When the Torah lays down that the blood must be collected and brought to the altar, that means that all our vitality and our heat should be directed toward holiness, kedoushah. Each of us needs to perform many profane actions such as eating, drinking, working, to ensure all our physical needs. But what we are asked here is to accomplish all these things without “blood,” meaning more warmth and enthusiasm than what’s necessary. On the other hand, our “blood”, this is our vitality and our heat, should instead be reserved at the service of our Creator.

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The double parashah of this week develops on the distinction between the state of purity (tahora) and the impurity (tum’a), that had already been introduced in previous chapters of Leviticus. We can easily see the progression of these laws along the lines of these parashiot:

In the first chapters of Leviticus, the kohanim are separated from any situaton that could lead to impurity. Then, in Shemini, all rules concerning food appear. Then, in the double texts, Tazria-Metsora, talks about the impurity concerning the body itself, such as birth, diseases including leprosy (tsara’at). The impurity can also attach itself to clothing and even the house. And finally, the rules regulating the  impurity resulting from contact with a corpse.

When Israel was at a level where their perception of Divine ways was clear, the diseases were treated at a spiritual level. The natural reaction, in case of any problem, was “to see the Lord”, that is to say contact the Cohen or, later, the prophet. After careful examination, the Cohen was able to detect if the disease was a simple infection, allergy of any kind, or if the cause was attributed to a defect of the soul. This is the concept of Unity with its dual reality: on the one hand, the morality and physical hygiene in Jewish thought; on the other hand, the unity of the human being, whose mind and body are indivisible.

Also, we find – in the Bible and the Talmud- many medical remedies linked to moral prescriptions. The man is a microcosm where the multiple components of spiritual and physical harmony are to be in perfect balance. Maimonides said that the best medication is one based on moral virtues and, starting from this principle, tends to restore the harmonious union of predetermined physical and moral forces, temporarily broken.

So, it was the Cohen, as God’s first servant, which acted as a doctor. Notice that the word “HaCohen”has the same numerical value as the word “Rofe”(doctor), and this shows clearly that the Torah considers the diseases cited as moral causes. It is the Cohen’s responsibility to diagnose and prescribe the procedure described in our text intended to guide the patient toward teshuva.

Today, it is rare that we establish a relationship between physical disease and moral causes, and our main concern is to discover and overcome the material causes. We invert the relation of cause and effect and confuse the effect for its cause. The Keli Yaqar and other commentators explain at length the reasons for a numbers of evils like lashon ha-ra, vulgarity and other moral causes. We must understand that the effect, this is to say, the physical condition, is not a punishment but a signal, a red light, which must make us stop and reflect on the consequences of our acts and on how to improve our conduct.

By the very fact that the tsara’at, this disease that resembles leprosy, comes from divine decree that interpels the transgressor, there is no doubt that the Torah wants us here to indicate that this is not fortuitous sign, as long as we are attentive to any indication that G-d can give us. We have learned that when a trial comes to disturb our social, family or professional peace we need to do a search in ourselves.

Our Parshah begins with the verse “When a woman has conceived and given birth to a boy.” The Orach Chaim sees here an allusion to the Jewish people and redemption. It establishes the following link : the word ‘woman’ means the community of Israel; the word ‘conceived’ should be understood as the commitment done by our people through the Torah and mitzvot; the end of the verse “gave birth to a boy” is the birth of redemption. The idea of Redemption is expressed by the word “boy” which represents strength and power. It is the final and eternal qualities of redemption that makes it deserve these epithets.

This distinction I found in the Midrash that, for all previous redemptions, employs the word “canticle-shir” (Kol Chirot) in feminine because of their temporary nature, while for the future redemption, the Midrash uses the masculine: Sing to the Lord a new song (Shiru l’Adonay Shir chadash) , it is eternal.

It is possible to understand why the people of Israel is called ‘woman’ through the origin of the word. According to the story of Genesis, Adam refered to his wife Hava as Isha because she came from the man (ish), emphasizing the deep bond between them. It is the same for our relationship with the divine, who is called Ish, as for instance in the Psalms: Adonai ish milchama – the LORD is a man of war, and for whom we have the status of Isha (woman). This expresses the people’s attachment to the Divine. Every Jew, by virtue of their soul, yearns for their creator. This feeling cannot be changed in any way because the union with the Divine is the only single aspiration: to reach the source from which comes our soul. Our verse combines this concept with the word “conceived.” The act of planting can be done only in the ground if we want to grow something. It is the same in the spiritual realm; any fulfilling is the result of the completion of specific mitzvot.

Some say: “The Lord looks for attention!”, while it is true that the spirit with which a mitzvah is done is extremely important, that interest is really just a ‘bonus’ giving to the act a larger impact. Thus, a person who cares deeply for a poor person but does not give tzedaka, has done no mitzvah. Only through concrete actions we are given to conceive, to initiate a process that will culminate in a fulfillment.

As explained in some chasidic texts, the Geula, the future redemption is contained in the conclusion of our verse: “and she will bear a son.” It is precisely by insisting on the fulfillment of mitzvot, refusing to limit oneself to good intentions, that it will be possible to create this redemption.

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The parasha Shemini, unlike previous ones in the book of Leviticus, does not deal with the service in the Temple. In fact, at the end of this parasha we find the famous laws of kosher food: What animals can you eat? Of course, eating “kashrut” is a mitzvah that we should apply without seeking the reasoning behind it. For example, one who says that we eat kosher for health reasons, might be completely mistaken. Thus, Rabbi Isaac Abravanel says that reducing the kashrut to a diet to be simply healthy, implies to reduce the Torah to a guide of well-being. It is true that the Torah helps us to maintain our body, but its main goal is to help us lift up our soul and change some of our natural behaviors. It is true that we can find thousands of explanations for the kashrut with a simple Google search, but it is also true that we do not know the “real” reason. However, our masters have opened a few paths.

Can we take seriously the adagio “tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are”? Let’s ask more questions, How much are we influenced by what we eat? While the health of our body depends in large measure on what we eat, can we say the same regarding our souls? Let’s see what different rabbis at different times had to say and let’s ask ourselves if these arguments are still relevant to us. Our rabbis taught that those who do not eat kosher are “metamtem et halev” – dead at the heart. How can we explain that a simple food can leave imprints in our feelings and our thoughts?

The Gemara Pesachim 49b teaches that “the only one who is” osek batorah, engaged in the study of Torah, may eat the meat. “Am ha-arets,” one who does not study the Torah, can not eat meat meal. “

The Maharsha explains this by the fact that the first will never eat non kosher, since it knows the details of the laws of kashrut, while the latter is likely to stumble. According to Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed III 11:

All the great evils which men cause to each other because of certain intentions, desires, opinions or religious principles, are likewise due to non- existence because they originate in ignorance, which is absence of wisdom. A blind man, for example, who has no guide, stumbles constantly, because he cannot see, and causes injury and harm to himself and others. In the same manner various classes of men, each man in proportion to his ignorance, bring great evils upon themselves and upon other individual members of the species.

We see that through the mitzvot that regulate food permitted and prohibited, the Torah seeks to create a distance and better control of our relationship to eating. Let us remember that in the beginning of the book of Genesis, the consumption of meat was forbidden to Adam and Eve, their only plants were intended. I remember the quote in Genesis 1:29-31: “And God said: ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of the whole earth and every tree in its fruit of a tree yielding seed: it will be your food. And to every beast of the earth and all the birds of the sky, and everything that moves upon the earth, wherein there is breath of life, I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so. “

Slaughtering “innocent victims” is, in effect, an act of cruelty and violence. The permission that was granted to Noah and his descendants, according to Genesis 9:3, was motivated by the need to correct the mistake that eventually led to the flood. Indeed, the defense of eating meat was interpreted as equality between man and animals. As a result we witnessed the phenomenon by which men were led to believe they were no more accountable than animals. In its turn this led to a terrible moral degradation. In this area we all have really changed, although we can still hear so much cruelty and violence coming from those so-called ‘civilized’.

Then came the curse of having to work (this is a job)! The reason for the expulsion from the Garden of Eden is, of course, the non-compliance with the limits set by God regarding the fruit trees. In other words, by eating, Adam and Eve transgressed a divine law.

This passage from genesis raises the question: Why did God care for Adam and Eve after what they did? Why would God have an interest in sustaining humans? You know as well as I do that God’s love for humans continues and we are provided with food, but since then we must work (Gen 3:19) in order to be able to eat. Before the expulsion from Eden, working was just a hobby, a way of passing time, but since those days bringing food to the table has become a difficult and sometimes even painful task.

Regarding bread, the bakers role falls into women’s hands (Gen 18:6, 1 Sam 8:13 and Judges 6:19) and into slave’s hands in big states. Later on baking became a profession. We know that during Jeremiah’s days there was a baker street in Jerusalem (Jer 37:21 and Os 7:4.6)

The permission to eat meat invites us to realize our “superiority” regarding animals and above the animal’s degree of responsibility. This means that we are accountable. There is no accidental act. We are responsible for our words and our actions and therefore we must be accountable, and this is how we gain our identity, whether individual or collective.

The Maharal of Prague explains in his book Netivot Olam (Netiv ha Torah 15), that ingesting and digesting meat expresses the idea that “the animal “who is the man no longer exists, it is completely under control”. Thus, the person who osek ba-torah- that engages in daily Torah study- engages in a daily task of self-control, trying to “tame” the beast within him, to the point that the animal ceases to exist. Animals act solely based on instinct. Those instincts determine the animal’s behavior. It has no reflection or thinking over situations. All this summarizes what we have learned about animal sacrifices: I must turn away from my “animal” side lest “instincts” would run my life. We can also subscribe to the opposite, this is to say that it is our duty to learn how to manage our attitudes and to respond reflexively in order to gradually gain control over our own actions.

Jewish tradition distinguishes between mitzvoth, laws that have a rationale behind them, and chukim, laws that apparently have a reason to be. I will try to illustrate these precepts through the characteristics and behaviors of some of those animals to show the reason why they are prohibited.

Eating meat might be ok, but not any type of meat …  The animals that the Torah allows to us show a non-aggressive behavior.  The remark by Rabbi Abravanel on this issue is very interesting: ruminants do not have the braces that would allow them to crush bones. They feed on plants and, therefore, they are not ferocious wild beasts. Their cloven hooves without claws make them peaceful and harmless.

Ruminants … what a plan! chewing and re-chewing is a metaphor for reflexion, taking the time to reopen the debate and reexamine the conclusion; a metaphor for raising new questions, or reformulating old ones. This is how a cow can inspire us!

Although this may sound like a wonderful plan there is a danger: to be paralyzed by too much reflexion and risking stagnation. The symbol of the cloven hoof gives us the opportunity to avoid this pitfall: it hangs well on the ground and can therefore move on to further commitment in action.

Concerning the birds, the Torah prohibits any birds that feeds on other living creatures. The eagle, swooping on its prey, symbolizes a lack of confidence, as if his food might escape. We know that the parnasah, the livelihood, does not depend on the dose of aggressiveness that we can deploy in order to “succeed,” but rather the Eternal is the one who supplies our needs. This is what is determined during Rosh Hashanah.

For example, the stork, called “chasida,” literally one that provides good, should be allowed for consumption since it embodies the values of generosity and kindness. Rashi, comments, “Why do we call chasida (faithful)? Because it faithfully shares its food with its companions.” (Lev 21.19).

And yet another warning! The Chasida is so keen to feed and help its fellows that they sometimes forget their own children! The author of Chidushe Harim gives us another explanation. The stork is good, certainly, it gives food to its companions, of course … but only to its companions. Giving food to relatives, while excluding others, it is not the real goodness. This bird is therefore unfit for consumption and this model, as cute as it may be, does not suit us. The lesson is clear: When giving tsedaka, we do not make distinctions.

We see from this example that even the best of the qualities when pushed too far, can become aberrant. Too much Chesed (kindness) kills the Chesed !

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La darrera vegada que vaig fer el vol cap a Estats Units vaig demanar menjar kaixer com acostumo. Recordo la cara de la persona que seia al meu costat quan la hostessa em va portar el menjar. Aquella persona em va preguntar què menjava i quin era el seu significat. Finalment va preguntar “I vostè, que en treu de respectar aquesta tradició?” “Home, depèn del que la persona hi posi,” vaig respondre. Podeu pensar que es tracta d’una resposta diplomàtica per a sortir del pas, però hi ha una part de veritat: allò que una persona veu en les lleis dietètiques del kaixrut depèn de com hem estat ensenyats.

La Torà no ens dóna cap explicació per a aquestes regles tan detallades i complicades per la classificació dels animals en purs o impurs. Aquesta situació deixa oberta la porta per a peguntar-nos la pregunta més important sobre quina és la base lògica per a continuar practicant aquestes tradicions avui, o en els temps bíblics.

Aquesta manca d’explicacions sobre com o per què determinar certs animals purs o impurs tant en la terra, com en l’aire, com en el mar ha permès que els comentaristes bíblics s’esforcessin a trobar alguna lògica. Cadascú ofereix la seva versió.

Maimònides sosté que els menjars prohibits per la Llei són poc saludables. Escriu en la seva guia “Hi ha pocs menjars que estan prohibits que hom posi en dubte el seu poc valor nutricional” (III, 48) i com que Maimònides era metge de professió ens costa poc entendre perquè la seva explicació es basa en els efectes per a la salut del cos.

De fet, però, conec alguns jueus que observen les lleis dietètiques i estan obesos. Per tant em costa imaginar que aquestes lleis fossin dissenyades per un déu nutricionista que tingués present el nostre bé físic i corporal. A més, si llegiu atentament aquesta secció de la Torà veureu que escorpins, serps i llagostes són classificats com a purs. Digueu-me curt de mires però per molt kaixer que sigui jo no em menjo una serp! Fos quina fos la intenció del text, em sembla clar que la raó per a aquestes normes no era ser una dieta saludable ni pels nostres estàndards ni pels d’aquells temps.

Els rabins medievals del ghetto i del shtetl, o llogarret jueu de l’est d’Europa, veien aquestes lleis com una mesura per a separar els jueus dels no jueus. Donat que vivien en una societat que els havia estigmatitzat i els havia confinat a la perifèria de la societat és lògic que aquella comunitat hagués interioritzat aquesta lògica i veiés el llibre de Levític a través d’aquest prisma.

L’autor de Levític hauria respost aquesta pregunta amb una altra pregunta: Que es pot i què no es pot menjar? La categoria d’animals que es consideren aptes pel consum humà és la mateixa que la categoria d’animals que es consideren aptes per a ser sacrificats a l’altar del Temple. En altres paraules, el teu cos es un temple. Allò que fas amb el teu cos ha de reflectir la santedat a la que aspires arribar.

Aquesta és la lliçó que la lectura d’aquesta setmana ens ofereix: la santedat és un compromís per a millorar-se, sense rebre cap guany, real o imaginari, sinó per la santedat mateixa i per res més.

Perquè jo, l’Etern, sóc el qui us va fer sortir d’Egipte a fi de ser el vostre Déu i a fi que fóssiu sants, perquè jo sóc sant.” (Lv 11:45)

La manera d’interpretar aquestes paraules canvia de generació en generació i de persona en persona, però el valor bàsic roman el mateix “ets allò que menges.” Per tant permet que et pregunti: Qui ets? I un cop t’he plantejat aquest preguntat existencial, deixe’m fer-te una altra pregunta encara més personal: Què creus que hauria de menjar una persona com tu?

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Aquest Xabat interromprem el cicle normal de lectures. Deixarem de banda el llibre de Levític per a retornar un dels moments més màgics al meu entendre de tota la Torà (Pentateuc). És un text que ja hem vist anteriorment: Just després de l’episodi del vedell d’or Moisès torna a pujar al Sinaí. A la tercer ava la vençuda i Déu perdona el pecat dels israelites. En aquell mateix episodi, Moisès pot veure l’esquena de Déu.

L’Etern continuà dient: «Mira aquí un lloc prop meu. Posa’t dalt de la roca, i quan passi la meva glòria, et ficaré dins l’esquerda de la roca i et cobriré amb la palma de la mà fins que hagi passat. Després retiraré la mà perquè em vegis d’esquena, ja que no és possible de veure la meva cara». [Ex 33: 21-23]

Aquest passatge és complicat quan l’estudiem des de la perspectiva de la història de la exegesi o interpretació bíblica donat la seva clara presentació de la divinitat en termes antropomòrfics. Déu té cara i a més quina cara! Perquè Moisès no la pot veure i només li és donat de veure l’esquena de Déu per un segon just després de que Déu hagi fet passar la seva presència.

Explicar la evolució de la interpretació d’aquest passatge podria ser un tema per a una tesi doctoral, per tant el deixaré de banda. Només vull assenyalar que generalment ha estat interpretat com una metàfora per a parlar de la presència divina.

Gershom Scholem, el gran pare dels estudis cabalístics, explica que la diferència entre el llenguatge filosòfic i el cabalístic rau en el fet que mentre pel filòsof el llenguatge ha de ser exacte representant fidelment una realitat, pel cabalista el llenguatge no és res més que una metàfora, una al·lusió que amb moltes penes i fatigues només representa de manera aproximada la nostra experiència emotiva.

És interessant assenyalar que en hebreu el terme Davar pot ser traduït tant com “paraula” com “cosa/objecte.” Si seguim aquesta metàfora podem concloure que en el llenguatge les paraules tenen dimensió, pes i massa. Per tant vull centrar la meva reflexió en què poden representar aquestes paraules.

Mira aquí un lloc prop meu – Aquí la paraula Makom / lloc té un doble sentit, perquè en un sentit immediat podem traduir-la com a “lloc, espai,” també ens recorda el passatge de Gènesis (28:16) «De debò, l’Etern és en aquest lloc, i jo no ho sabia» on, degut a la sintaxi de la frase en hebreu, makon/lloc pot significar Déu. Per tant podríem llegir el verset “Estigues amb Mi i Jo estaré amb tu.”

Posa’t dalt de la roca – En diversos passatges del Tanakh (Bíblia) i de les nostres pregàries Déu es anomenat Tzur Israel, Roca/Penyal d’Israel. És una clara referència al rol protector de Déu i una imatge  de com era de proper Déu per a Moisès.

Et ficaré dins l’esquerda de la roca i et cobriré amb la palma de la mà fins que hagi passat – Aquest és el passatge per excel·lència del moment de proximitat màxima amb Déu, que en el llenguatge dels mestres khassidics anomenem devekut, o unió mística, quan la persona esdevé una amb déu. En aquest moment la mà de Déu esdevé un bressol que protegeix l’infant Moisès.

Un cop més la imatge de la mà està estretament lligada altres associacions amb altres textos on les mans són una metàfora per a la protecció. “T’he gravat sobre les palmes de les mans,tinc sempre les teves muralles al davant” diu Isaïes (49:15-16)

Finalment, però, sabem que Moisès només pot veure l’esquena de Déu. Què en podem aprendre d’això? Crec que una lliçó d’humilitat gràcies a un passatge del tractat Berakhot (7 a) del Talmud de Babilònia on es diu que Moisès va veure el nus dels tefilin que rodegen el cap de Déu.

Els tefilim, o filacteries, són uns objectes en forma de capsa i amb corretges de cuir per a subjectar-los que fem servir durant les pregàries del matí de diari. Aquest passatge ens planteja la pregunta: vol dir això que Déu prega? La imatge de Déu portant tefilim és la imatge perfecta perquè el text biblic contingut en els tefilim és el text de la Xemà (Escolta Israel L’Etern, el nostre Déu, l’Etern és un Dt 6:4), el text de la unitat divina per excel·lència.

I si Déu, prega, per qui prega? Em temo que donat el context en el que té lloc tot aquest relat Déu prega per nosaltres.

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