Cleaving to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
“וכפר עליו הכהן וטהר”
“How beautiful are your tents O Jacob, your sanctuaries O Israel!”
This verse said when entering a synagogue reminds us that the synagogue is a ‘mini-sanctuary/Mishkan’. In the synagogue there is no demarcation dividing between areas allowed only to the Priests and those areas allowed to Israelites, as we find in the Temple. Rather, the most familiar part of the Temple more resembling the synagogue today is the ‘Israelite section’ allowed for Israelites. Yet still, even this section of the Temple is strictly limited only to Israelites of ritual purity. Actually not only regular ritual purity is required at this fifth holiest location of the Bais HaMIkdash, but a special level of purity involving the offering of a sacrifice of atonement is required too in addition to the regular purification process (mikveh, counting days, etc.).
Much of this week’s parsha deals with such individuals who need such a sacrificial atonement in order to be purified to the extent of entering the ‘Israelite section of the Bais HaMikdash’. These individuals are the leper, a woman who gives birth, a man who emits a specific abnormal fluid discharge – ‘zav’, and a woman who has a specific abnormal discharge of blood – ‘zava’. Aside from the ritual leper (to be discerned from the medical leper) whose condition clearly points to a sin (especially slander) according to our Sages, it seems somewhat unclear what sin the other individuals in this list are liable for in order to seek ‘atonement’.
In regard to a woman who gives birth our Sages teach that she needs atonement in order to be purified, because every woman has an innate wish to cease childbirth and relations with her husband when experiencing the pains of birth (Nida 31b). Therefore, in order to correct this improper impulse to cease life, a woman must offer a sacrifice to atone for this impulse. In a similar way, according to the Sefer Hahinuch, both the ‘zav’ and the ‘zava’ are Providentially given a bodily malfunction in order to awaken them to their negative lusts and desires innately within them requiring them for atonement. The word for atonement, kapara, can also mean a covering, and thus we gain greater understanding on the verse ‘the (Holy) Land will atone upon His People’ (end of p. Haazinu) used also by our Sages in context of burial, ‘covering’ the corpse, in the Land of Israel which acts as an ‘altar of atonement’ for those buried in it.
Of course, the archetype of burial in the Land of Israel is in Hebron at Maaras HaMachpela where the first Jewish burial took place and where Adam, Eve, and our Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried. Therefore, burial in Hebron, according to halachic authorities may even champion with Jerusalem as being the choicest plays of burial on earth (see Gesher Hahayim). Also, the term “Cave” of Machpela itself connotes a concealing cave. It seems that this “concealed” and “hidden” nature of the Cave of Machpela also allows for it being the Threshold of the Afterlife, where all souls arise to Heaven, Place of the Final Atonement for all souls.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #165
“Once I decided to found a kollel on the 29th of Adar II. Two years later on the exact same date, 29 Adar 5776 , the kollel that was founded entered, to study on a regular level, the “Rabbi Ashlag’s Beit Midrash”/”Nachshon’s Gallery” , where a kollel had been running 22 years before, and had ceased by the security forces after the Goldstein episode in Adar 5754…” (M.G)