Tazria: True Jewish Idealism

Israel must return to a healthy Torah of idealism.

Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen,

Judaism  Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen
Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen

"For thirty-three days she shall stay in blood of purity; she may not touch anything sacred and she may not enter the Sanctuary, until the completion of her days of purity." (Vayikra 12:4)
Life derives its true value and meaning as a tool to be used in the service of HaShem.

Through the miracle of childbirth, human beings are able to reach a level of partnership with G-d. Man and woman join to conceive a new life, which then receives a soul from HaShem. And nine months later a child enters the world. But when born, this new life causes a spiritual impurity and contamination period for its mother. This impure period teaches us that the mere existence of life is not sufficient. Life derives its true value and meaning as a tool to be used in the service of HaShem.

"Upon the completion of the days of her purity for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring a sheep within its first year for an olah-offering, and a young dove or a turtledove for a sin-offering, to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, to the kohen. He shall offer it before HaShem and atone for her, and she shall become purified from the source of her blood; this is the law for one who gives birth to a male or to a female." (Vayikra 12:6-7)

After the mother completes her period of contamination, she begins a cleansing process, purifying herself and then bringing an offering to G-d at His Temple in Jerusalem. Only then can she consume sacrificial meat or terumah.

The fact that merely cleansing herself is not sufficient for the mother to reach a true state of purity teaches that the mere absence of contamination is not yet the fulfillment of Israel's goal in the world. The Hebrew Nation's aspirations must rise higher than the elimination of the negative. Just as the mother brings an offering to the Temple, Israel must strive for positive achievement. A person is never entirely cleansed until coming to the resting place of G-d's Presence with an offering that represents atonement for the past and dedication to the future. The internalization of this concept is crucial for a proper understanding of Divine service.

Because so many Jews abandoned the Torah in recent generations, Israel's collective goal became warped in many circles. The national mission of elevating existence and revealing G-d's Kingship to mankind was put on hold, while merely staying observant or working in kiruv (bringing lost Jews back to Torah observance) became the goal of the pious. While it is true that the Jewish Nation living in accordance with G-d's law is a prerequisite for achieving our Divine mission in Creation, many have regrettably forgotten the higher goal of Israel's lofty national destiny.

As a result of personal religiosity becoming Israel's supposed reason for existence, many G-d-fearing communities developed a policy of sheltering their youth from anything outside of their ghettoized Judaism. Thus was created a Judaism of weakness that cowered from the outside world. Instead of going out to engage, revolutionize and sanctify the world, the Torah, for many people, became a protective wall to take shelter from foreign influences. Societal fences were erected in order to keep young Jews from leaving the house of study and becoming corrupted by what lurked outside its walls. Combined with Christian influences Israel encountered in the exile, it began to seem, mistakenly, that the role of the Torah was to constrict life rather than uplift it.

This distorted offshoot of Judaism stands in stark contrast to the mission of Am Yisrael. While it is obviously dangerous to send vulnerable children out into a less-than-perfect world, Torah education should focus on strengthening and fortifying the Hebrew youth in order that they become impervious to the spiritual contamination of foreign cultures. Jews are required not to hide from impure philosophies, but to go out and challenge them, in order to bring mankind ever closer to G-d's Truth. Instead of taking cover from evil, Israel must confront and extinguish it from the world.
Instead of taking cover from evil, Israel must confront and extinguish it from the world.

The Nation of Israel can no longer afford to view ourselves as weak - a view that cripples the Torah and creates a Judaism of fear. In truth, the fuller and more idealistic Torah of Eretz Yisrael would succeed in attracting more Jews back to our path, many of whom are unimpressed by an exilic Judaism that seems archaic and devoid of life. Kiruv can be elevated to more successful heights on a national level, magnetizing our people back to Torah when confronted with the incredible goal of the Redemption process.

The Nation of Israel must return to a healthy Torah of idealism; a Torah of action that calls upon the Jewish people to strive for positive achievement and not merely seek the avoidance of that which is negative. By infusing the Jewish youth with the Torah of Redemption - a proud Torah of love, courage and self-sacrifice - Israel's teachers can not only bring more lost Jews back to themselves, but also realize the exalted Israeli mission of illuminating existence with the light of HaShem.