Friday, May 1, 2015

Acharei Mos/Kedoshim 5775, May 2015, Morality

In parshas Acharei Mos, we are forbidden certain relationships.  Deriving from this, the Acharonim developed our laws of yichud, regulating private seclusion of men and women who are forbidden to have personal relationships. Zecharya discusses the age of the coming of Moshiach, when according to Rashi's interpretation, families will mourn individually and men and their wives separately. Even on solemn occasions, even when the yetzer hara may have little hold, the halachos still apply (Michtav Me'Eliyahu). Clearly, the laws against immorality are therefore not just for the sake of preventing immediate prohibited relations.

The Gemara in Gittin explains, rather that by removing oneself from the possibility of immorality, one becomes closely associated with HaKadosh Bar-ch Hu. One who avoids an opportunity for yichud or obscenity but prevented himself from taking advantage of it is he about whom it says in Yeshayahu, "One who shuts his watching evil…shall behold the King in His beauty,…the land that is far off."

Vayikra Rabba says furthermore that he will behold the shechina, and happiness in Olam Haba.

Parshas Kedoshim continues with related ideas of avoiding paying any attention to idolatry, cults, or philosophies contrary to Torah; false oaths; thefts; and misleading the vulnerable.

When we have questions about how we need to separate men from women, community from greater community, we have no need to make new restrictions, create new barriers, and certainly not to do it based on non-Jewish thought patterns and philosophies at the risk of pain to other Jews; or worse yet to mislead other Jews about what separations are necessary. Halacha directly from Torah observed for generations upon generations, clearly discussed in both written Torah and Gemara tells us exactly how we interact with each other and how we maintain proper separation. To do more and insist it is Torah is to lead others astray; to do less is unworthy of a Jew.

True confession: I didn't have a good photo illustration. So I give you
a cute sheep this morning as it was finishing its being shorn and beautified
before judging at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Just sheep, no goats, sorry!

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