by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
A lot of the Torah’s laws do not seem to make sense. At least we can see how they make any sense. Sure, we do them anyway, but it would be nice to understand why we are doing them.
The laws forbidding perversions in weights and measures are quite logical. Obviously, it is wrong to cheat. But some of the Torah’s laws are so illogical, that they defy man’s ability to understand them. In fact, the Sages tell us that this type of law (called a chok) has no logical reason.
For instance, the laws of “forbidden mixtures;” obviously, there cannot be a logical reason for forbidding a Jew to wear a garment made of wool and linen, right? And what about the rabbinic warnings, such as a man not walking between two women or not letting a dog or pig walk between you and your Jewish friend? Are these rules just to keep us aware, or is there a physical or spiritual reality to them?
There are four basic types of forbidden mixtures: a mixture of different types of seeds (when planting plants), a mixture of orchards (fruit trees), a mixture of species (when breeding animals), and a mixture of linen and wool (in our garments). The Torah warns us that such mixtures sap the strength from the individual species.
What could these laws possibly be teaching us today?
Here the Torah is using a common Talmudic principle called kal v’chomer (all the more so).
When we look, we see that each of these forbidden mixtures not only deals with the species that it mentions, but it also points back to us:
--The seeds of a garden are like a man’s own seed.
--The fruit of a tree is its offspring. A man is likened to a tree of the field and, fittingly, our children are called our fruit.
--Our animals are not merely our physical animals but also represent our spiritual animals, our animal inclinations.
--And our garments are our deeds.
Now apply the “all the more so” principle: If I am not to mix my vegetable seeds because this will drain the strength of each plant, and I am not to mix my fruit trees because this will weaken the fruit of my trees, and I am not to crossbreed my animals because this will produce weakened livestock, and I am not to mix my garments, then surely all the more so, I am not to mix my actual offspring—my children, who are my family, my deeds.
Jews are commanded to marry only Jews and raise Jewish families in order to maintain a healthy, vibrant Jewish people in the world. Without doubt, this is the greatest test facing the Jewish nation today, as the vast majority of Jews around the world intermarry. If a Jew is careful not to mix the threads of his garments, he certainly will be careful not to mix his family.
As to the warning regarding walking between two women: if you do not believe that there is a spiritual world right here and now, if your entire universe is made of stone, then this answer will not satisfy you. But, if you somehow see that the physical is actually the spiritual manifesting Itself as the physical, then you will take these words to heart.
“Yesh nefesh l’koldevar” Everything has a soul. Souls radiate their nature. Even a rock radiates its spiritual nature. Men not only radiate their human nature, they also radiate their personal, masculine nature. Women not only radiate their human nature, they also radiate their individual, feminine nature.
A number of upsetting things can happen to a man who is surrounded by feminine, spiritual input. He may find himself troubled by sexual dreams. He may find his masculinity challenged from within. The teachers of Kabbalah say that he is bringing a “little damage” to himself.
Obviously, if this warning is being read by a man who goes out of his way to be surrounded by women, he is going to scoff at it. But if the same Sages who warned us not to eat unsupervised milk (as explained in a recent article) also warned us not to walk between two women, then it makes sense to listen to them.
We are warned not to look an evil person in the face. A person’s face expresses his inner feelings. We absorb what we see, and even some things that we do not see. Be careful. Choose your company well. You are going to be affected by them, and you will even become somewhat like them.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
// 7/25/2010 //