Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Linen & Wool

Well that hukim law that seems so confusing about wearing garments made from wool and linen together ...

It seems that the most likely explanation was that the priests wore garments of wool & linen and that it was to provide for their distinction in the community.

How do we know? Well in Exodus 28:6 it describes the garments for the priests and says that they are to be dyed specific colors. Wool was the fabric that was dyed in that period and so it can be concluded that it was made of wool. AND it says that it would be adorned with linen.

There were many things that were special only for priests, such as a special oil mixture noted in Exodus 30.

It is ok for the priests to be treated special. Remember later they were the ones who didn't get a specific part of the land. The community had to take care of them.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Purim & Yom Kipur - The connection

Remembering to Forget - AMALEK

On Shabbat Zachor (just prior to Purim) we read Deut 25:17-19 that tells us about the evil Amalek who attacked the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. It tells you to 'blot out the memory' of Amalek AND 'do not forget'. (seemingly paradoxical and yet effective)

On Purim we blot out Amalek in the reading of Magillah by making noise at the name of Haman and being silly and drunk to the point of confusing Mordechai and Haman. Confusing Good and Evil.

On Yom Kippur - We also blot out Amalek or the Evil within ourselves. But this time through remembering and prayer.

(recap of the sermon/study session by Rabbi Citrin on 3/10/06) Will post the link to the sermon when it is available.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Mishpatim & Hukim: Ox & Ass vs. Linen & Wool

Deut 22:10
You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together.

A Mishpatim Mitzvah

Why: These animals differ greatly in their nature, size and strength and it is cruel to the weaker animal to yoke them together. The prohibition extends to the yoking together of any animals of unequal type.

Why: The ox chews his cud, the ass does not. Would the ass feel deprived as he saw the ox chewing food? Do animals feel emotional depravity?

Why: Because the farmer would be plowing in circles.

Why: To guard against mating of diverse species.

Why: To maintain separation of the Israelites.

And there is always the nagging question: Why would any farmer even think to do this?

All of those are possible answers brought up in discussion, this law can be explained in several ways that seem reasonable and logical.

AND - This law was later expanded to the interpretation relating to creating a team of compatible people to work together. People who work well together are way more productive and satisfied than those who are not suited to working together. And this is very "Mishpatim".

and the very next mitzvot:
Deut 22:11
You shall not wear cloth combining wool and linen.

Now this one would be put into the Hukim category...

The mixture is called sha-atnez, a word of unknown origin. However in Lev. 19:19 and Exodus 28:15 there is a description of a garment for the priests that seems to combine wool and linen. (Plaut commentary) ... Seems like another contradiction.

That is, unless our Torah Study next session comes up with some interesting answers... that change that.

- - - - - - - - -
Mishpatim, are laws that are understood by human beings through reason, and certain laws, hukim, are beyond human understanding. The hukim are commanded by God, and we must fulfill them, even though we may not fully comprehend them.

Rambam's teachings imply that there is a reason for all the mitzvot - but we may not understand them. Torah was given by a greater intelligence than our own and the reasons are just not as obvious.

(link: )

Nachmanides taught that those laws that we don't understand do not need to be understood. That following mitzvot sometimes is to give us humility.

(link: )