(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 3, Sfirat Haomer, Siddur.)
1. [21:11] “He (the Kohen Gadol) will not approach any dead body—for his father and mother he shall not become impure”. However, if the Kohen Gadol finds a dead body that has been abandoned he must become impure and bury the body. What does this law tell us about the Torah’s attitude to death and life and people.
2. [23:4] “These are the festivals of God…” The holier the day is, the more one is restricted in one’s physical activities. For example, on a festival, one may cook food, although there are other restrictions. On Shabbat one may heat up certain cooked foods, but may not cook, and on Yom Kippur one may not cook and one may not even eat or drink. Why should physical freedom of action be dependent on the level of holiness of that day? One might think that more holiness should suggest more freedom of action, rather than the opposite!!
3. [23:24-23:44] Our tradition tells us that by keeping the Torah, we make everyday life holy. If so, then why are there so many festivals which introduce to us a higher holiness than the everyday?
4. [Pirkay Avot 3:11] “…someone who embarrasses a person in public…has no portion in the next world.” We would have known that embarrassing a person publicly is a sin, but why is it considered among the worst of all sins?
5. [Siddur, Shaarej Teszuwa, page 434] On a regular Shabbat we say that we should be joyful in God’s salvation, but on the festival
, we say that we should be joyful in God. What is the difference between these two expressions?
Why is there a difference between what we say on Shabbat and what we say on the festival?
When one is involved in Torah—in simple things—one sees how the elevated light comes down in such a wondrous way, and rests beautifully in the world of action. One’s mind expands because of the great splendour and the powerful life-force that flows from the source of the Holy of Holies…
–Rabbi Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker
And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer