Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Linking Torah study and life- originally posted April 30, 2008

Maybe its just me- but I find that as I study, what I study always seems to connect in with the events in my life (OK, so I look for the connection- whats the point of studying Torah if its merely academic?)

So, I started Daf Yomi on Masechta Yoma- just before Yom Kippur. I was starting the laws of Aveilus (mourning) when my Grandmother died, Masechta Kesubos (The Talmudic Tractate on the marriage contrate and how it applies in divorce) when my marriage fell apart. On Friday my ex’s Grandmother (in other words my kids Great Grandmother) died (the funeral was Monday after Yom Tov- she died too close to shkiah for a funeral on Friday). At the moment, the Daf Yomi cycle is on Masechta Nazir (the laws of the Nazirite) and I wondered how it applied in this situation. Aside from the correlation between the Nazir not being allowed to contaminate himself with Tumat Hameit (impurity from a dead body- the most severe form of impurity) I struggled. Then it came to me- we are in Nissan

Now- Nissan is a special month, we celebrate our freedom as a nation, we look forward to celebrating the receiving of the Torah on Shavuot- so much so that we count the days. And in Nissan- we do not make a hesped (eulogy) for those that die. Instead, most Rabbis will try to find something to talk about that was highlight of the deceased personality- bringing it out, without directly eulogising the person. And Masechta Nazir does that in this case.

My kids Great Grandmother was a remarkable woman when it came to maintaining relationships- the drive behind maintaining a close family on that side though they are dispersed across four continents (USA, Great Britain, South Africa and Australia)- and the Nazir is all about relationships.

Why does a person take a vow of Nezirus? He wishes to bring himself closer to God- to establish a closer relationship with the God and to become holier. But at the end of the term of Nezirus he brings, in addition to the other offerings, a sin offering. In his attempt to come closer to God- the Nazir must damage his mundane relationships. If a friend or family member dies, he cannot attend a funeral. He cannot go and drink wine with friends, he must deny himself certain pleasures. This abstanance is viewed so negatively that a husband is justified in divorcing his wife if she takes a vow of Nezirus; as the Talmud says- may men do not want to be married to an abstinent wife!

So heres the connection I was seekin:- we learn from the Nazir the importance of all relationships, mundane and holy. We learn how important it is to maintain relationships and how great a mitzvah it is to cement those connections. We learn how great is the mitzvah and merit in one who ensures the continuity of family and community by maintaining those links for severing them, or ignoring them, can only lead to dissolution of those two bedrocks of society: family and community.

June 24, 2008 - Posted by | Other Torah, Talmud | , ,

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