Ritual Impurity and Sin

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Lioba
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Ritual Impurity and Sin

Post #1

Post by Lioba »

Good News: I´ve got my Jewish Study Bible for Christmas. It´s very interesting and I think it will help me to understand my religious roots much better.
But it also leaves me with some questions.
As far as I´ve understood, there is a difference between the idea of ritual impurity- menstruation, contact with corpses etc. and sin.
Can you explain this a bit further to me?
Thanks, Lioba

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Goat
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Re: Ritual Impurity and Sin

Post #2

Post by Goat »

Lioba wrote:Good News: I´ve got my Jewish Study Bible for Christmas. It´s very interesting and I think it will help me to understand my religious roots much better.
But it also leaves me with some questions.
As far as I´ve understood, there is a difference between the idea of ritual impurity- menstruation, contact with corpses etc. and sin.
Can you explain this a bit further to me?
Thanks, Lioba
Ritual impurity doesn't always involve actions that are wrong ,but they still want to keep away from the temple. If you notice, they involve contact with the dead, and contact with blood for the most part. This are matter where 'ritual purification' , such as the Mikvah (cleaning in a bath filled with rain water) can resolve.

Sin is when somebody does something wrong, and has to atone for their actions.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

cnorman18

Re: Ritual Impurity and Sin

Post #3

Post by cnorman18 »

goat wrote:
Lioba wrote:Good News: I´ve got my Jewish Study Bible for Christmas. It´s very interesting and I think it will help me to understand my religious roots much better.
But it also leaves me with some questions.
As far as I´ve understood, there is a difference between the idea of ritual impurity- menstruation, contact with corpses etc. and sin.
Can you explain this a bit further to me?
Thanks, Lioba
Ritual impurity doesn't always involve actions that are wrong ,but they still want to keep away from the temple. If you notice, they involve contact with the dead, and contact with blood for the most part. This are matter where 'ritual purification' , such as the Mikvah (cleaning in a bath filled with rain water) can resolve.

Sin is when somebody does something wrong, and has to atone for their actions.
I've written on this elsewhere; the Hebrew word is tamei, which is usually - and unfortunately - translated as "unclean." It carries no negative connotation whatever in the Hebrew; it describes a condition which has nothing to do with wrongdoing.

This is easy to prove. Besides the issue of menstruation - how could this be sinful? It's unavoidable - even the High Priest was expected to father children and bury his dead (which require emitting semen and being in the presence of the dead, respectively, both of which render one tamei). EVERYONE was tamei at one time or another. Further: tamei has nothing to do with hygiene or cleanliness. Feces is not tamei, though it is recognized as being unsanitary, unhealthy, and gross.

There are some oddities here; a person with leprosy was tamei, but if the whiteness eventually covered his entire body, he was no longer tamei and no longer contagious. (Whatever disease was being described here is evidently extinct. It is certainly not Hansen's disease, which is what we call "leprosy" today.) Nonkosher beef was not kosher, but it was not tamei either (the word is treif, which is not the same thing. One may not eat treif meat, but one may handle it and then go to the Temple without a problem). There is clearly something going on here that is no longer a part of our consciousness and no longer clearly understood.

At any rate, tamei had nothing to do with sin - and since the most important result of being tamei was being forbidden to enter the Temple, and since Temple rituals were required to stop being tamei, -- and most importantly, since the Temple no longer exists -- we can conclude that being tamei no longer has to do with anything at all. Everyone on Earth is tamei, and there's no way to get un-tamei - and there's no reason to try.

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Lioba
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Post #4

Post by Lioba »

Thank you! What significance do you think had the destruction of the Temple for spiritual development of Judaisme generally?

cnorman18

Post #5

Post by cnorman18 »

Lioba wrote:
Thank you! What significance do you think had the destruction of the Temple for spiritual development of Judaisme generally?
At the time, of course, it was a terrible and unmitigated tragedy; virtually the entire Jewish population of Jerusalem was massacred, and the center of the Jewish religion, the heart of the people, the site most dear to us, was utterly destroyed. That, and many of us were scattered to the four winds; the Diaspora began then, though there were already Jewish communities in most of the nations and cities of the ancient world. (For the record, not all the Jews left Palestine; many remained. There has, in fact, been a continuous Jewish presence in Palestine since at least the time of Joshua. There were Jewish villages in the West Bank that had been in existence for literally thousands of years, from which the Jews were expelled by force in 1948. The Palestinians were not the only ones displaced in that war.)

In the long run, though, the destruction of the Temple accelerated and confirmed a process that had already begun; the moving away from the dominance of the Temple in Jewish life and its replacement with Torah study, the shift of authority away from the hereditary Temple priests and into the hands of learned laypeople. The rabbis that appeared at about the time of Jesus were not priests, but were acknowledged as wise and knowledgable by the consensus of the whole community and not by a hierarchy; and rational debate and discussion became the norm, as opposed to pontifical pronouncements from traditional religious authorities. It's hard to appreciate the profundity of this change, but it led to the rise of modern rabbinic Judaism, which has moved even farther from the teachings of Christianity than even the already enormous gulf between actual Jewish belief and practice and the gross Christian misunderstanding of them that is already evident in the writings of Paul, who from a Jewish point of view may as well have been a Gentile (as some scholars suspect that he actually was).

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Lioba
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Post #6

Post by Lioba »

The end of the temple service and the slaughter of the people of Jerusalem must have been horrible, but it could not extinct your culture and religion. Maybe this was partly because of the strength of the synagogue and the rabbinic tradition.

cnorman18

Post #7

Post by cnorman18 »

Lioba wrote:
The end of the temple service and the slaughter of the people of Jerusalem must have been horrible, but it could not extinct your culture and religion. Maybe this was partly because of the strength of the synagogue and the rabbinic tradition.
In part, certainly. We have always adapted and changed, wherever we have gone - both being influenced by and influencing those around us, and excelling when we were permitted to. We bend rather than break, and we are prepared to move and take our beliefs and our culture with us.

I invite you to take a look at a thread entitled "What Judaism Is," if you're interested. It's on the Judaism subforum.

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Re: Ritual Impurity and Sin

Post #8

Post by Jrosemary »

Lioba wrote:Good News: I´ve got my Jewish Study Bible for Christmas. It´s very interesting and I think it will help me to understand my religious roots much better.
Yay! You won't be disappointed--it's good stuff. O:)

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