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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3

Jerusalem

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LEVITICUS — 16:2 any

Yose ben Yohanan of Jerusalem said: … let the poor be members of your household; Pirkei Avot, Perek 1, mishnah 5. The kind of hospitality that our Torah requires is possible only when we look upon the poor and on our obligation to them, as if they were members of our own household. Charity indeed begins at home, but the "home kind" of charity should not end there. The Gaon of Vilna once approached a wealthy man for a contribution for a destitute family. The man countered by paraphrasing a verse from Psalms: "I perform acts of tz'dakah at all times," (Psalms 106:3) implying that his continuous giving absolved him from making any further contributions. Amazed, the Gaon asked him how he managed to give charity constantly. The rich man, very satisfied with himself, opened the Talmud and pointed to the Rabbinic interpretation of this verse, "who do charity at all times" -- that it refers to one who feeds his young sons and daughters (T.B. Ketuboth 50a). Determined to answer the man in kind, the Gaon replied with a smile, "But there is another passage in the Torah which reads, 'Let him not come at all times to the Holy Place' [this verse]. He who hides behind the excuse of the Rabbinic interpretation of 'at all times' can never attain holiness." Taking care of your own family does not absolve you of your obligations to the poor who turn to you. But not only must you consider your obligation to the poor as compelling as your obligation to your family; you must actually treat them as such. "Let the poor of the members of your household." Do not demean the poor individual or humble him. His having to accept charity is humbling enough. Do not add to his sense of estrangement. When he comes into your house, make him feel at home. Part of the duty of hospitality is to convert the poor into members of your household. (Continued at Deuteronomy 10:19 strangers SINAI1 56-7)
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LEVITICUS — 16:3 this

Simeon the Just as one of the last survivors of the Great Assembly. He used to say: The world stands on three things: on Torah, Divine worship, and acts of love and kindness. Pirkei Avot, Perek I, mishnah 2. … this great Sage emphasizes that the three pillars upon which the world of Judaism rests are Torah, the study and fulfillment of Torah; avodah, service to G-d, and g'milath hasadim, man's kindness in action to his fellow man. This three-fold characterization of Judaism is contained in the famous High Holiday prayer: "Penitence, prayer and charity avert the severity of the decree." Penitence is possible only where a knowledge of Torah induces a sense of guilt; prayer is, of course, the service of the heart (it too is called avodah in Hebrew); and charity is the implementation of g'milath hasadim. The importance of this teaching for the modern Jew lies in its call for totality and balance. Too often today we meet the person who trumpets forth the size of his charitable contributions and proclaims: "So long as I give charity and exhibit a generous heart, I can safely ignore the elements of Torah and avodah." We also have the person who maintains that since he goes faithfully to the synagogue every single day, he is absolved from giving to charity. What Simeon the Just would have us remember is that one is required to be a total Jew by making a total commitment to Torah, avodah, and g'milath hasadim. In the High Holiday prayer that we mentioned, the Mahzor [prayerbook-AJL] reproduces three words above the three subjects of the sentence. They are tzom, fasting; kol, voice; and mamon, money; these are approximate synonyms or associated terms for penitence, prayer and charity respectively. However, these three additions when regarded from the aspect of their numerical value [gematria-AJL], are actually equivalent, each consisting of 136. Any two together, therefore, equal 272, and all three total 408. With this in mind, we can offer an interesting interpretation of the verse, "A man of brutish instincts (ba'ar) does not know, and a fool will not comprehend this (zoth) (Psalms 92:7). The numerical value of the word ba'ar is 272, and the numerical value of zoth is 408! Substituting for these multiples of 136, meanings in terms of our triad --penitence, prayer and charity--we emerge with the points just made. We are acquainted with a man who does not know, ba'ar--272, who ignores two of the required three principles. And we even know of the fool who does not comprehend zoth--408, all three of these pillars of Judaism. There are people who feel that by remaining loyal to only one aspect of Judaism they are fulfilling their obligation. But surely this is foolishness! We can extend this approach farther, and in a similar manner interpret the verse, "With this, b'zoth, Aaron shall come into the sanctuary" [this verse]. Only with the "408" – – with the total of all three activities, should the cohen gadol, the high priest enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur. Should he approach the Almighty with only a part of the totality of Judaism, then he cannot adequately represent his people. Anything less than total Judaism is a truncated Judaism, an unbalanced version. Judaism, in a sense, resembles a tripod, a structure resting on three legs. Remove any one of the three supports and the structure will collapse. If a person be learned but not observant, if he be charitable but not disposed to worship, then he cannot possibly experience a full religious life. Such defective religiosity is bound to be shaky and is destined to topple.
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LEVITICUS — 16:4 dressed

Pride leads to destruction, and the man or nation that boasts superiority soon begins to attack others. Lack of humility begets hatred; hatred begets strife; strife leads to destruction. The more one criticizes oneself, the greater one is. The ideal man is pictured as one walking through life humbly, doing his duty come what may, without thought of self-glorification. The extent to which the crowd was held in abomination by the Rabbis can be gauged from their teaching that "a scholar who is proud is like a carcass lying in the streets; those who pass it by, turned away in disgust" (Abot d'R. Nathan ii.). The reason, according to the Mishnah (Yoma vii.4) why the High Priest was not allowed to officiate in his garments of gold on Yom Kippur was a reminder that G-d was not to be worshiped in the panoply and regalia of majesty but in simplicity of humility, attired in plain linen garments [this verse, Zevachim 88b, Hullin 5b). Because of their haughtiness, the generation of the Flood merited destruction (Sanhedrin 108a). If a scholar will scorn humility, warned R. Judah (in the name of Rav (Pesachim 66b)), his learning will depart from him; if he be a prophet, he will cease to prophesy. Addressing the thorn-bush from which Moses first heard the Voice of G-d in the wilderness when tending the sheep of Jethro, a Talmudic Rabbi thus apostrophizes: "O thorn-bush! Not because thou art the highest of all trees did G-d choose thee as the scene of His revelation unto suffering mankind. On the contrary, thou wert chosen because thou art the lowest among them." (Shabbat 67a). Humility is especially fitting to Israel (Haggigah 9b; Nedarim 20a) to walk about haughtily is to insult the Shechinah (Berachot 43b).
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LEVITICUS — 16:9 offering

Expiation demands a ritual, some dramatic representation of the removal of sin and the wiping cleaning of the past. That is clear. Yet Rambam [Maimonides] does not explain why Yom Kippur demanded a rite not used on other days of the year when sin or guilt offerings were brought. Why was the first goat, the one on which the lot "To the L-rd" fell and which was offered as a sin offering [this verse] not sufficient? The answer lies in the dual character of the day. The Torah states: (Leviticus 16:29-30). Two quite distinct processes were involved on Yom Kippur. First there was kappara, atonement. This is the normal function of a sin offering. Second, there was tahara, purification, something normally done in a different context altogether, namely the removal of tum'a, ritual defilement, which could arise from a number of different causes, among them contact with a dead body, skin disease, or nocturnal discharge. Atonement has to do with guilt. Purification has to do with contamination or pollution. These are usually two separate worlds. On Yom Kippur they were brought together. Why? As we have already noted, we owe to anthropologists like Ruth Benedict the distinction between shame cultures and guilt cultures. [Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (Boston: Houghlin Mifflin, 1946] Shame is a social phenomenon. It is what we feel when our wrongdoing is exposed to others. It may even be something we feel when we merely imagine other people knowing or seeing what we have done. Shame is the feeling of being found out, and our first instinct is to hide. That is what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. They were ashamed of their nakedness and they hid. Guilt is a personal phenomenon. It has nothing to do with what others might say if they knew what we had done, and everything to do with what we say to ourselves. Guilt is the voice of conscience, and it is inescapable. You may be able to avoid shame by hiding or not being found out, but you cannot avoid guilt. Guilt is self-knowledge. There is another difference, which explains why Judaism is overwhelmingly a guilt rather than a shame culture. Shame attaches to the person. Guilt attaches to the act. It is almost impossible to remove shame once you have been publicly disgraced. It is like an indelible stain on your skin. Shakespeare has Macbeth say, after his crime, "Will these hands ne'er be clean?" In shame cultures, wrongdoers tend either to go into exile, where no one knows their past, or to commit suicide. Playwrights have them die. Guilt makes a clear distinction between the act of wrongdoing and the person of the wrongdoer. The act was wrong, but the agent remains, in principle, intact. That is why guilt can be removed, "atoned for," by confession, remorse, and restitution. "Hate not the sinner, but the sin" is the basic axiom of a guilt culture. Normally, sin and guilt offerings, as their name imply, are about guilt. They atone. But Yom Kippur deals not only with our sins as individuals. It also confronts our sins as a community bound by mutual responsibility. It deals, another words, with the social as well as the personal dimension of wrongdoing. Yom Kippur is about shame as well as guilt. Hence their has to be purification (the removal of the stain) as well as atonement. (continued at Leviticus 14:7 open SACKS 187).
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LEVITICUS — 16:16 sins

Whoever does not firmly contend against those who stand on the path that is not good and draw [themselves] towards transgression [Tehillim 35:5, Yeshayahu 5:18], will be punished for their iniquitousness and for their sins [this verse; Chatas is the term used for inadvertent sinning), and he has violated a negative commandment, as the pasuk says (Vayikra 19:17), "Do not bear a sin because of him." The pasuk further says (Hoshea 10:9), "Since the days of Giv'ah you have sinned, Yisrael. They stood there – they would not have achieved in Giv'ah a war against the children of iniquity." What this means is that had this generation been there it would not have gone out to war in Giv'ah to eradicate the evil, as that generation had (See Shoftim (chapters 19-20), where the Jewish people went to war against Binyamin due to the terrible crime perpetrated in their city of Giv'ah). ("They stood there," [should be interpreted] as, "If they had stood there," as in Bereishis 44:22), "He will leave his father," i.e., "If he will leave." (I.e. The word "if" needs to be added.) The intent of the pasuk is that the sin of their generation was similar in nature to that of Giv'ah; yet, the generation of Giv'ah was superior to them, for they assembled together, willing to give their lives to eradicate the evil. The pesukim [verses -- AJL] also say (Shoftim 5:23), "'Curse Meroz,' (the inhabitants of Meroz did not come to Deborah and Barak's aid in the battle against Sisera) said the angel of Hashem, 'curse--cursed are its inhabitants--for they fail to come to the aid of Hashem sham, to the aid of Hashem against the mighty"; and (Devarim 1:17), "Do not be afraid of any man." (I.e., do not be afraid to stand up to Hashem's protagonists, even if it means creating dissension." (Continued at Exodus 32:26 come GATES 235-6)
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LEVITICUS — 16:29 afflict

An analysis of the Jewish attitude to asceticism must begin with the Bible. Does the Bible favor excessive fasting? ... The Pentateuch enjoined only a single annual day of fast, Yom Kippur. The phrase "You shall afflict your souls" [this verse], a synonym for deprivation of nourishment, might conceivably have given substance to the notion that self-affliction is a meritorious practice. Such an assumption is erroneous, as is evidenced by the twin commandment relating to Yom Kippur: "And you shall do no manner of work in the same day" (Leviticus 23:28). Surely there is no merit to abstention from work except in the context of a formally established religious observance. The same is true of the abstention from food. Fasting was regarded by people as an expression of intense contrition, as a symbolic ritual of self=sacrifice, or as fervent prayer for divine mercy and forgiveness. Due to the physical severity of fasting, it was instituted only on the most solemn day of the year. Eventually, it was resorted to on occasions of major emergencies. Although there was no dearth of emergencies in the days of Moses, there is no mention in the Pentateuch of any public voluntary fast aside from Yom Kippur. … Biblical approval of fasting is clearly limited to special occasions. "Affliction of the soul" on a regular basis is contrary to the "preservation of life." At no time does the Bible allude to fasting as a recommended virtuous practice for people of piety and zeal.
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LEVITICUS — 16:30 atonement

Now we will clarify fully what pertains to the various categories of atonement. Our Sages, z"l, (Yoma 86a): Rabbi Masya ben Charash asked Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah in Rome, "Have you heard about the four categories of atonement upon which Rabbi Yishmael expounded?" He answered, "There are three, and repentance accompanies each one of them. If a person transgressed a positive commandment and repented – – before he can move, he is immediately forgiven, as the pasuk says (Yirmeyahu 3:22), 'Return, rebellious sons, and I will [immediately] heal your rebelliousness.' If he has transgressed a negative commandment and has repented – repentance suspends (I.e. suspends atonement until Yom Kippur) and Yom Kippur atones, as the pasuk says [this verse]. If he has transgressed prohibitions that incur excision or capital punishment administered by beis din, and has repented--repentance together with Yom Kippur suspend, and suffering purges [and completes the atonement], as the pasuk says (Tehillim 89:33), 'Then I will punish their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with plagues.' However, one who is guilty of the transgression of desecrating Hashem's Name--repentance does not have the power to suspend, nor Yom Kippur to atone, nor suffering to purge. Rather, they all suspend [the atonement] and death purges, as the pasuk Pacific says (Yeshayahu 22:14), '[I promise] that this sin will never atone for you until you die.'" (Thus, the three categories of atonement are Yom Kippur, suffering, and death. Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah does not consider repentance as a unique category because it is always necessary for atonement (Rashi). Our Sages, z "l, said (Yoma 36a) that a burnt-offering atones for the transgression of a positive commandment after one has repented. For although his sin is [immediately] atoned for through repentance, nonetheless the burnt-offering will enhance the atonement and will bring one to find even greater favor before Hashem.
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LEVITICUS — 16:30 atonement

This concept (I.e. that repentance alone is not enough for atonement] is further clarified in the Torah, for [this verse]. We see that after repentance there [still] is a need for the atonement of Yom Kippur (since the main atonement of Yom Kippur is effected by repentance) [Yom Kippur cannot atone without repentance Yoma 85b; see Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Teshuvah 1:3, with Kesef Mishneh). Perforce there must be repentance; still, it is not enough.]
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LEVITICUS — 16:30 atonement

When our Sages, z"l, said (Yoma 86a) that for transgressions that incur excision or capital punishment administered by beis din, repentance together with Yom Kippur suspend, and suffering purges [and completes the atonement]--the question that arises is: doesn't the pasuk state [this verse], "[For on this day…] you shall be purified of all your sins before Hashem"? (I.e., this pasuk is referring to the day of Yom Kippur, and implies that Yom Kippur atones for everything, and does not just suspend.) The answer is as follows: When the pasuk says "you shall be purified [of all your sins] before Hashem," this is a positive commandment to repent, I.e., to examine and analyze our ways, and return to Hashem on Yom Kippur (It is not a statement that Yom Kippur atones for everything, but a commandment to do what we need to in order to achieve atonement, I.e., "shall" is understood as "must." See the Second Gate, paragraph 14.) Although we are required to [purify ourselves of sin] at all times, there is a greater obligation to do so on Yom Kippur, and the purification [process] that is at our disposal for doing so is repentance and the righting of deeds. On the other hand, that which the [beginning of the] pasuk [this verse], says "For on this day [the Kohen Gadol] will make atonement for you to purify you"--referring to Hashem's purifying us from transgression and granting us complete atonement on Yom Kippur, without the need for suffering--this was in reference to the negative Commandments (I.e., this actually does state that Yom Kippur atones fully, but only for the transgression of negative commandments that do not incur excision or capital punishment. See paragraph six.). But for transgressions that incur excision or capital punishment administered by beis din, repentance together with Yom Kippur suspend and suffering purges.
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