Peru: grow and multiply / croissez

 
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Tuesday Jan 15, 2008

Av_a:

 

Judaism has inherited some rules governing daily life that are directly connected with the Temple. Thus, Judaism is known for its strict attitude toward purity and cleanness. Well, some streets could be cleaner, more decent. People could avoid spitting anywhere, anyhow. True, they would scream at you if you take a flower or a bud from a plant. At this point, it is even worst than removing the mother bird from her nest to take her offspring, which is both inhumane, not vegetarian nor vegan. This commandment of Deuteronomy 22:6-7 that protects the mother bird, her eggs and fledglings and only allows taking the young bird is unique. It shows that the Mitzvot are substantially ethical. Maimonides wrote about the “great pain of the animals” in such circumstances (Guide to the Perplexed, III, 48). The Noahide law prohibits the removing of limbs from a living animal. It is of the same caring vein. Plants and animals have been created before human beings. Thus, they must be respected, preserved as signs of the world’s beauty. Plants are growing as a consequence of such a wonderful miracle in this country that every flower is wondrously marvelous.

There is seemingly a certain gap between this idealistic view, the legal rules that protect some species and our moral attitude in the present. This has been described, scanned, viewed, analyzed, revised and contemplated: Israel might have a series of ethical problems. Frankly, are we all broken up or the bones of the same bones?

Chevrah chavritit = full solidarity”? How can we be non-judgmental and still responsible for our actions? How do we commit ourselves to any action done by any inhabitants because we all together face the challenge of good and evil? This is why the ” tumah vetoharah = impurity and purity” laws are so important. By the time of the Temple, they allowed to protect the sanctity of the Place and of the people. The Torah, in Number chapter 19, determines the three major “impurities”: leper, sexual life control and contact with the dead or corpses. Various Talmudic treatises deal with these matters (Taharot/Purities, Niddah / Menstruals, Nega’im / Leper, Ohalot / Corpses).

Leper is alas a very extant disease; Niddah is supposedly one of the Talmudic guidelines to enjoy a decent and respectful sexual life. In Israel, we are used to death of people, usually buried very quickly. In the West, there is rather a sort of fear of death which is hidden as a basic human experience. Tumah vetoharah show that impurity can be turned into purity, not by magical washing machine powders or “nikayon – cleaning products”, but by a moral conduct. The Apostle James depicted it in a way that is very close to the permanent Jewish tradition: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained in the world.” (James 1:27). To keep unstained (pure, separate) in the world is what allows us, as believers and/or God-seekers to accept the Commandments or Mitzvot.

The whole process of Judaism is to comply with certain rules that are sometimes not understandable: the mikveh or ritual bath is of that inquisitive nature. Well, it sounds evident that cleanness is better than dirt. Vessels are also to be washed and cleaned carefully as described in Talmud Kelim. The observance of the laws governing kosher items constitutes a vital question for a thoughtful and humble attitude toward our society and environment. KoSHeR is linked to “gashar” (to bridge) and is related to a correct and healthy use of food, tissues, textiles, products, utensils, tools, devices, gadgets. On the other hand, “tref” comes from “taraf” (unclear, non-kosher, Talmud Sanhedrin 43a). Many rules, as going to the mikveh/ritual bath are indeed “chokim” or “beyond any reasonable explanation” and “obvious” commandments at the same time. Yes, morals can be full of contradictions. The accomplishment of the Commandments brings more of divine wisdom to a world that often looks “treyf – split”. The 613 Mitzvot also allow human nature to articulate rational and irrational positions.

Yochanan Ben Zakkai was present on the Temple Mount after the Holy of Holies had been destroyed. He was watching at the site where so many corpses were lying. He answered once to his panicked disciples: “By your lives! A corpse cannot make anybody unclean, nor can the waters make clean; in both cases, God alone can change something because He is the Great King” (Pessikta de Rav Kahana 40a/b). Purity is at the heart of Jewish and Christian morals. Not at the lowest available price! There is a price of excellence in achieving the one or many Commandments. At the first Synod of Jerusalem (45/52), Bishop James wrote a letter in the name of the early Church. Being a Jew, he released the sole Gentile part of the Church from the observance of the 613 Mitzvot, but imposed the major Noachide rules to the Gentiles. Interestingly, this verse points out a constant link: “(Jesus said) unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20). It shows how huge and difficult the challenge is, as the “Pharisees = perushim” are those who are unstained in the world and, as the Christians, believe in the resurrection of the dead. Purity also means to care those who in contact with a death situation, such as orphans and widows. There is more than “charity-gemilut chassadim”. Eastern Orthodox Churches have also developed many rules to cope with similar issues as “impurity/purity” such as long periods of sexual abstinence during fasts, purity or protection of natural elements and food. These rules are lining with the kosher regulations in many aspects.

The “mikveh – pl. Mikvaot” is connected with the Temple service. The High Priest had to bathe before the Day of Atonement, but in fact much more often. “Ma’yan” = “fountain, source, sprinkling waters (Tractate Mikvaot 5,1, “a bubbling well” Nedarim 41b), also: bowel, womb, inside (Talmud Niddah 28b)” and is linked to “ayin” which is a “source” and the “eye”. “Ma’ayanot chochmah = the well-springs of wisdom”(Tractate Tosefta Sota 15,3b). Mikveh implies the construction or utilization of living (flowing) waters. They may either fall from clouds in the shape of rains or snow, provided that it melts… Strange how, each year, we franticly expect snow in Jerusalem and nobody required them to get into a mikveh…

Struggle for purity is a fight against deterioration or wearing effect of time, not the fact of growing old. In the morning prayers, the Jews say: “My God, the soul You have placed within me is pure. You created it, You fashioned it. You breathed it into me… Blessed are You, Lord, Who restores souls to dead bodies – neshamot lef’garim metim“. Thus, men and women are proposed to go through this cleansing bath that is more than a spa, a sauna or Turkish baths. A checking person may help the woman and eventually the man to be sure that every part of the body has been cleansed accordingly. The Jew rises from under the living water as a new-born. Let’s say that insensitive and stonyhearted people can thus melt like frozen ice into a thoroughly nice drizzle of renewed minds and skins. Jewish tradition suggests bathing this way repeatedly. The Orthodox, Conservative and Chassidic movements require it every week. On the other hand, when an individual becomes a Jew, s/he should go once to the mikveh (i.e. “aggregating action to the community”), which has been refused by the Ethiopians who came to Israel as Jewish newcomers.

Interestingly, the Judeo-Christian baptistery in Nazareth is definitely similar to any mikveh. Seven stairs lead down to the pool through all the steps of temptations. Getting out of the water (baptizein), the person has been purified for the rest of his life and climbs up through the various degrees that bring to holiness. The Christian Orthodox baptism is still very close to the Jewish mikveh / purifying bath. Some Churches usually pour some water over the head of the person.

Jews and Christians among themselves often came into harsh conflicting discussion about “living waters”. This is due to a problem of the respect for souls and spiritual identities. The real “Living water” bath maybe only understood with the courageous statement of R. Leo Baeck who was in a prisoner in Theresienstadt. He declared: “Who has revealed to the world the sense for the purity of conduct, for the purity of family? Who has given to the world, to the attention of mankind, the Image of God? The spirit of the Prophets in Israel and the revelation of God to the Jewish people.”(cited by J.Telushkin, A Code of Jewish Ethics, p.25).

Even if somehow, we are prompted to get purified, we are overshadowed by a simple traditional statement outlined by Jesus of Nazareth: “You may be the children of your heavenly Father, for He makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). In this very special year, what can make us grow and multiply without being strangers to each others; and to be try to lessen the burden of distant arrogance between individuals and communities.

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Je trouve interessant de mixer le blog Av_a que j’ecris deux fois par semaine dans la presse israelienne avec Abbaa dans le journal “Le Monde”. Nous allons parvenir tres vite a la fin des fetes qui marquent le Nouvel An chretien, puisque la Theophanie du Christ sera celebree au Jordain les 18 et 19 janvier. Lasemaine prochaine, le mardi 22 shvat 5768, ce sera le rappel du nouvel an des arbres dans le judaisme. Une fete de grande gaiete avec une pointe de “Saint Valentin des amoureux”.

Il me manque encore quelques elements pour faire le point sur une evaluation de ce qui se passe pour les Eglises en Israel. Lorsque j’ecris dans un journal israelien, je le fais en qualite de pretre “israelien”. Je pense, vis au rythme d’une societe dont je possede la plus grande partie des referents de maniere intuitive, acquise tres tot et analysee sur les bases evidentes. J’evite tout partie-pris politique, bien que cela soit apparemment de l’ordre du reve. Lorsque je parle de vie spirituelle, la reponse est deja qu’il y aurait un partie pris choisi de soutenir inconditionnellement Israel. Cela n’apparait jamais dans les articles israeliens car je puis, a partir de la foi juive et de son mirroir chretien, poser des questions a une societe qui a besoin de justice.

Le vrai probleme spirituel d’Israel est le developpement, la croissance et la vitalite. Du point de theologique, rien n’est jamais acquis d’emblee et si les apparences peuvent donner le sentiment d’avoir atteint un niveau eleve, celui-ci est toujours contestable et tres vite depasse.

Le but de mes blogs et la reconnaissance du fait hebraique par l’Eglise et d’une Gentilite chretienne qui a naturellement sa place dans un Christianisme ne d’une entite juive du Ier siecle.

Il serait utopique de ne pas prendre les choses pour ce qu’elles sont. Il est parfois tres ennyeux de devoir reconnaitre que celui en qui on souhaite trouver un ami, ne le deviendra que malgre lui et avec les plus grande reticences et meme repulsions.

La reconnaissance du patriarche grec-orthodoxe Theophilos III par l’Etat d’Israel devrait avoir plus de grandeur humaine, spirituelle, de panache et de sens du pardon dont tous les acteurs se declarent les temoins eternels au nom de Dieu.

La realite est autre. Il y a dans les mouvements historiques un certains nombres de constances que l’on voudraient eviter. La “haine gratuite – sinat chinam – שינאת חינם” a mene a la destruction du Second Temple par une haine dont les acteurs – les serviteurs du culte dans le Temple – sont devenus les victimes conscientes. Malheureusement, cette haine s’est poursuivie et non uniquement dans le monde monotheiste, mais au sein de la race humaine toute entiere.

Il peut se produire que des nations christianisees aient envisagees une sorte de reflexion spirituelle sur des actes sans nom, ttoalement indigne de la nautre humaine et pourtant perpetres comme signes sacramentels et au nom du Dieu vivant. Le cas du massacres des Mayas en est un simple exemple.

Lorsqu’en 1999, cetains groupes sont venus voir le patriarche Diodoros de Jerusalem et lui demander pardon en raison des effroyables exactions commises par les croises occidentaux pendant les croisades. il fut touche, mais sans doute pas beaucoup plus. La demarche etait emouvante, souvent reelle, le plus souvent irrealiste.

Il faut esperer que la libre republique des Juifs (dont je rappelle souvent que Montesquieu attendait le retablissement avec l’espoir qu’elle ouvre des perspectives de justice) ne cede pas a la grande tentation quasi inevitable d’exercer un pouvoir dur et vecu comme repressif a l’encontre des Chretiens de Terre Sainte et des Eglises. Celles-ci ne sont pas pretes, en rien, a considerer l’attitude d’apostasie pratiquement generale qui fut celle des hierachies a l’encontre du peuple juif. Elle se prolonge naturellement, comme par tic acquis et irrepressible.

Il est tres probable que nous entrons dans un temps ou le judaisme va se definir petit-a-petit par rapport a l’Etat d’Israel. Certains pans – y compris du monde orthodoxe juif – sont deja actifs vis-a-vis du chrsitianisme ou de ce qu’ils concoivent comme la realite du christianisme qu’ils ont frequente. Tant que le chretien n’arrivera pas a reconnaitre en totalite le juif pour ce qu’il est et non pour ce que le chretien voudrait qu’il soit, les heurts etaient inevitables. Ils etaient moderes dans la mesure ou certains juifs avaient une connaissance suffisamment grande et fondee du christianisme pour savoir s’orienter avec souplesse.

L’Etat d’Israel n’a ni le personnel competent ni le desir, ni le temps d’ergoter car ce ne sont pas 6 millions de morts qui sont en cause. Ce sont des siecles de viol systematique des ames et des consciences eduquees dans la tradition proche de celle de Jesus Christ. Cela veut dire que la vraie dimension de dialogue ne peut s’instaurer que si l’on tient compte de la profonde alterite humaine et spirituelle.

Et surtout de la capacite du monde chretien de revigorer l’experience de la foi. Nous ne sommes qu’au debut du christianisme alors que le pays semble revenir a une situation ancienne. Le chretien n’attend rien d’autre sinon le don de la foi et de la grace. Il ne saurait se limiter “a notre peuple – tou ethnous imon” car il inclut tous les peuples et les agrege naturellement dans une oeuvre qui, a Jerusalem, est cosmique.

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