Mar 28 2014

We Can Choose Our Direction

Having discussed whether animals are pure or impure, whether they are kosher to eat or not, the Torah now turns to discuss the purity and impurity of human beings.

up-or-downYet there is a fundamental difference between the purity or impurity of man vs. animal. An animal is either kosher, or not — its state is determined from birth. And when it dies, a kosher animal becomes impure if it was not slaughtered correctly — meaning that only human intervention prevents it from becoming impure. In both life and death, an animal does not change its own state. A human being, on the other hand, can become pure or impure repeatedly throughout his or her lifetime.

This distinction between the purity of animals versus human beings is parallel to the fundamental difference in our natures. An animal is a creature of instinct; it performs the mission that G-d gave it without conscious thought. Only human beings get to choose how to behave, which is both a blessing and a curse.

A human being combines a physical body and a Divine soul, and repeatedly chooses which nature to follow. We can attach ourselves to the Divine, or (ch”v) pursue our base instincts. In death the body and soul separate — the purity of the soul leaves the impurity of the body. As a result, the corpse reflects the deepest level of impurity. Not only physical contact, but even traveling over a grave or sharing a room with a body is sufficient to make a person impure.

Throughout our lives, we, unlike the animals, can choose to make ourselves more G-dly and pure. May we always make the right choices!

1 comment

    • Mireille levitan on March 31, 2014 at 7:12 am
    • Reply

    While I understand how in certain situations we can choose to be pure or impure, I cannot see that it always applies. I can see we can choose between good and evil thus choosing purity or impurity. I can see that a man can decide to bris his son, thus raising his purity or a woman has the choice to obey the laws of family purity thus ensuring she is pure. She however cannot choose whether she menstruates or not, thus at a point in the month she has no decision over her impurity. Similarly after child birth she is impure, it is not a decision she can make. Similarly one afflicted with tzaras is impure, no decision of his will suddenly make him pure. I would appreciate your comment.

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