Blemished People

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  • #609154

    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    I’m learning Parshas Emor with my Partner in Torah (who gave me permission to post this. Hi! :waves:)

    Basically, the pesukim list different blemishes that prevent kohanim from serving in the Mishkan / Mikdash.

    If Hashem makes every person perfect for who they are, why should people with one physical feature be considered lesser and unable to participate in the holy service?

    Why should there be a stigmatized physical feature, or preference for an idealized body type? It doesn’t seem Jewish.

    #949879

    Vogue
    Member

    To show us that we are best able to serve Hashem when we are emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy. Spiritual health does not come until emotional, physical needs are met and one is healthy.

    #949880

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    If Hashem makes every person perfect for who they are, why should people with one physical feature be considered lesser and unable to participate in the holy service?

    Why can’t a Yisroel do the avodah? Because it’s not his job. Nor is it a Ba’al mum’s job.

    #949881

    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    DY: That’s what I said. But she said why can’t it be their job just because of a physical issue? It seems discriminatory.

    #949882

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    And why can’t it be a Yisroel’s job? That’s also “discriminatory”.

    #949883

    Sam2
    Participant

    Torah: There is a certain level of respect that we must have for our connection to HKBH. Just like you wouldn’t send a maimed person as a messenger to a human king (even if that king himself had caused the blemish) so too is it inappropriate for a blemished person to represent us before Hashem. It is a lack of respect for Hashem and His Avodah.

    #949884

    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    Not the same, it’s easier to understand caste than physical features. Aren’t we supposed to focus on the spiritual?

    #949885

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    I’m sure there’s a deep reason why a ba’al mum specifically can’t do the job, but in terms of “fairness”, which really seems to be her question, the assumption is wrong. Everything we have, including oppurtunities to serve Hashem, is really a gift from Him, and it’s not reflective of proper hakaras hatov to ask why we don’t receive even more.

    There’s no word in Loshon Hakodesh for “fair”, because the concept is not real.

    We perceive our existance as a given, so we think that yashrus, justice, demands equality. In reality, our very lives are matnos chinam, free, undeserved gifts, so if His wisdom sees fit to create people with different jobs, we are silly to complain. A cow has no right to complain that he’s not a person.

    I’m sure there’s some inherent flaw in the service performed by a ba’al mum. The same is obviously true for a flawed animal, which is passuk (disqualified) for a korbon (sacrifice). The disqualified animal has no more right to complain that he can’t serve Hashem as a korbon than he has a right to complain that he’s not a person.

    Similarly, a Kohen who has a mum is not being discriminated based on his blameless mum, but for a reason only Hashem knows, the job to perform avodah was not granted to him.d

    #949887

    daniela
    Member

    A few days ago you posted about your students (or you?) being bothered by a supposedly “demeaning” statement. In that topic I suggested the question is deeper than any simplistic answer. For reasons beyond human understanding there exist males and there exist females, there exist jewish people and non jewish people, fit people and blemished people, poor people and rich people, people who have many children and people who can’t conceive, and so on and so forth.

    I hope you can reconcile with that. However I can’t accept you saying about Torah that R”L “it does not seem Jewish”.

    #949888

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Daniela, please look at T613’s words in context. She is saying that a focus on externals rather than internals is not Jewish, or to paraphrase, not in line with Torah values. The answer to her question lies, I think, in understanding how this din, if viewed properly, is actually significant beyond the physical.

    #949889

    oomis
    Participant

    Because Hashem said so in no uncertain terms. Period.

    #949890

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Because Hashem said so in no uncertain terms. Period.

    That works for you, and it works for me, but I don’t know that it works for T613’s Partner in Torah.

    #949891

    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    DaasYochid: Thank you for your beautiful post. I think you expressed it very well.

    #949892

    yehudayona
    Participant

    Funny, I had a similar conversation with my Partner in Torah. I pointed out that by the standards of the Torah, most of today’s Kohanim wouldn’t be able to do the avodah. A Kohen who is left-handed or wears glasses wouldn’t qualify. That seems to have mollified him — it’s one thing to discriminate against the handicapped, but it’s more PC to have rules. Of course, not being able to do the avodah didn’t mean they couldn’t participate in other Kohanic activities (such as eating the sacrificial foods, deworming the wood, etc.)

    #949893

    yytz
    Participant

    Kohanim are, in a sense, a symbol of absolute purity in divine service. All of the aspects of this purity — marriage restrictions, being around dead people, blemishes — revolve around physicality. This is because spirituality and physicality are fundamentally connected.

    The service was designed to promote maximum awe and love of Hashem. Letting blemished kohanim participate would have lessened the awe that people felt in witnessing the holy service. Letting kohanim sacrifice blemished animals would have also lessened people’s awe.

    In truth, there is nothing “wrong” with any person or animal that has any blemish or other problem, because Hashem designed everything for a good purpose. But there are very special and exacting requirements for the holy service, to allow it to fulfill its spiritual function. So not everyone can participate.

    We can’t say Hashem discriminates, because he is the one who caused certain kohanim to have blemishes. To achieve their soul correction, their tikkun, these individuals must not have needed to participate in the temple service. This gave them time and opportunity to achieve what they were meant to achieve in this gilgul.

    #949894

    daniela
    Member

    I do not think it is possible to avoid confronting the fact halacha focuses on the external, which we thus learn it’s indeed an intrinsec and essential property and not simply an outward cover or a screen which hides reality. Lehavdil in other religions they have debates which in Judaism would not even make sense. Most Western thinkers and philosophers, despite tremendous diversity, debates and disagreements, share that outlook, and it seems to me this is true for contemporary works all the way to the Greeks and Romans, and I have found it hard to explain to others, because it’s very much taken for granted in western culture.

    #949895

    dafyomi2711
    Member

    i dont think wearing glasses makes you a baal mum

    #949896

    WIY
    Member

    Torah

    The sefer Hachinuch talks about it. Please look it up over there you will gain a nice insight.

    #949897

    thegra
    Member

    Daniela: ”which we thus learn it’s indeed an intrinsec and essential property and not simply an outward cover or a screen which hides reality”

    I do not think you can be more incorrect. A princess once asked a chashuv rav why Hashem had created him so ugly. He told her to put her wine in golden jars instead of wooden ones. She did and it went bad. We see that sometimes being attractive externally will cause the internal to spoil.

    #949898

    oomis
    Participant

    I don’t typically answer “Because Hashem Says so,” to most “why”s. In this case, it is poshut in the Torah, that a baal mum cannot “duchen” before the olam. Hashem didn’t give explanations (perhaps it would be distracting to see a Kohein with a deformity, for some reason, and their kavana would be different, or even the Kohanim themselves would be distracted from the kedusha of blessing Am Yisroel). I don’t know what the reason is.

    Neither do I really know the reason why as a bas kohein, when after 120 years (G-d willing), I am nifteres, my brothers cannot attend my levaya, should I predecease them, simply because I am married. But that is the Halacha. And therefore, likewise the answer is, “Because Hashem Said so.” There are many things that get an answer like that. We have to do them, whether or not we understand the reasons, whether or not we LIKE the reasons, and whether or not we think we are good Jews without doing those things. It is simply because He Said so. Clearly there is an inyan of kedusha involved.

    #949899

    daniela
    Member

    It seems to me the story you posted furthers my point: the Rabbi’s genius, again for reasons we can not fathom (I believe we are taught some Rabbis were very handsome and others were not) caused him to look ugly (at least in the eyes of vain and rude people; we surely should assume the rav’s wife found him attractive, should not we?) Also, I believe in the future world we will have a resemblance to our appearance in this world, correct me if I am wrong.

    See, the point is, we have people without eyesight, we have people without limbs, we have tetraplegics, countless diseases – we correctly say – along with Western culture – we should help them live to the fullest. To that aim, we scream against work discrimination (even though we are well aware that, say, a healthy employee’s productivity is different). We promote sports and other activities, nowadays there are many athletes among them. We even become angry at words such as “blind” or even “disabled”, we mandate words to define them and enforce that with laws and with social stigma. However the main point remains: no one wishes upon ourselves and our children to be like that. While we can (and should) try to support every human being – disabled or not – to live to the fullest and to fulfill their wishes, the fact remains that they are different and we don’t know why and we can’t help it. This is the real, serious problem. We can say, I do not know why. Or we can try to rationalize, although I have the impression that the very few persons who are at such a high level they’re able to, do not discuss this with unlearned people.

    #949900

    thegra
    Member

    This question is rather silly. You can ask such a question about everything in the Torah. That fact that a blemished Kohen cannot duchen is problematic to you but the fact that a Levi or a woman cannot duchen is not problematic? The entire concept of kehuna is not a Meritocracy to begin with, it is passed down from father to son. So why does the superficial suddenly bother you?

    (btw, today our kohanim are in nearly all cases not true kohanim but that is a topic for a different thread)

    Daniela: How does what I say further your point? It is completely contrary to what you said.

    #949901

    thegra
    Member

    There are three people: 1) Yossie 2) Shlomomo and 3) Binyamin. Yossie is a Kohen and can duchen. Shlomo is a “blemished” kohen and cannot duchen. Binyamin is a Levi and cannot duchen. Why do you think it is superficial that Shlomo can’t duchen but do not think it is superficial that Binyamin can’t duchen?

    #949902

    Golda
    Member

    Hi, I am Torah613Torah’s Partner In Torah, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to answer my question.

    #949903

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    You’re very welcome Golda, and now that you’ve joined the CR, feel free to ask any other questions. I hope the CR members will be nicer to you than we usually are to each other!

    #949904

    Sam2
    Participant

    Thegra: Yes, our Kohanim are true Kohanim. This is what the vast majority of contemporary Poskim have held for the last 200 years since R’ Akiva Eiger and others accepted R’ Tzvi Hirsh Kalisher’s explanation of what Kohanei Chazakah means.

    And a Ba’al Mum can’t Duchen? Why is everyone sure of that? He can’t do the Avodah. But he can Duchen as long as the Minhag of where he is is to cover the Kohanim with Taleisim while they Duchen.

    #949905

    squeak
    Participant

    Judaism is not about ignoring tbe physical. It is about elevating the physical. Point is, physical matters and don’t be misled by ideals inappropriately borrowed from other religions (such as transcendence). Hashem said KiTov about the physical world.

    It doesn’t answer your specific question, but at least I am not steering you the wrong way or blindsiding you with hogwash.

    #949906

    oomis
    Participant

    And a Ba’al Mum can’t Duchen? “

    So perhaps I misspoke and it ONLY refers to the Avodah. Same principle, however, even if it turns out I am mistaken about the one specific Avodah (isn’t duchenen part of the general Avodas Kohanim, though?).

    We will always find some segment of the population that is precluded from some mitzvah or chiyuv that is incumbernt on others. So are they to be thought somehow discriminated against?

    (This whole topic reminds me of the joke of a man who came to a Shul rabbi and told him he would donate $100,000.00 to the shul if the rabbi would make him a Kohein. Naturally the rabbi told him he couldn’t do that. They argued back and forth, with the man upping the ante each time, until the rabbi exasperatedly asked, “But WHY do you want so badly to be a Kohein?” To which the man replied, “Well, my grandfather was a Kohein, my father was a Kohein, so I want to be one, too!”)

    #949907

    WIY
    Member

    Did anyone check the sefer hachinuch?

    #949908

    thegra
    Member

    Sam: of course kohanim today are not true kohanim. We don’t give them chala today for that reason. The rest of things kohanim do is only minhag. So suddenly after 200 years they magically became kohanim again according to all poskim? Of course they aren’t.

    #949909

    Sam2
    Participant

    Thegra: We don’t give them Challah because it’s Tamei or they’re Tamei. And of course they’re real Kohanim. Otherwise how could we do Pidyon HaBen?

    #949910

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Did anyone check the sefer hachinuch?

    Iy”H over Shabbos.

    #949911

    thegra
    Member

    Sam: Since you didn’t answer my question I will ask it again. BTW, just out of curiosity, are you a boy or a girl?

    So suddenly after 200 years they magically became kohanim again according to all poskim?

    I’m sure you know the story of the gra with his pidyon haben who went around to all the people who claimed to be kohanim since they were all only safek until he met one family with a shtar.

    The Yam Shel Shlomo I believe states that one reason we do not give kohen challah is because safek kohen.

    I remember reading about this on a thread here not too long ago. Like I said this is not the place for this convo.

    #949912

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    I’m sure you know the story of the gra with his pidyon haben who went around to all the people who claimed to be kohanim since they were all only safek until he met one family with a shtar.

    Do you have a source?

    Even if true, it could be l’chumra.

    Even if he held it was a safek, we clearly don’t pasken that way, as we are satisfied with one, and we say a brachah.

    #949913

    daniela
    Member

    thegra: even though I am unable to see the connection between physical appearance and spiritual essence, I believe there is one. I do not believe physical appearance to be an incidental quality / property.

    Also, I think the situation is more complex than how you discussed. I think your example should be expanded.

    1) Yossi

    He is a Cohen and he is fit, he can duchen, but he can’t do any service in the Beit Hamikdash as there is none.

    2) Shlomo

    He is a Cohen but he has a minor blemish and is disqualified

    3) Binyamin (and Reuven, and Daniela, and John, and Bob….)

    Binyamin is a Levi, Reuven is a Yisrael, Daniela is a female, John is a convert, Bob is non jewish. They are all *forbidden* from serving in the Beit Hamikdash (I repeat: forbidden. Our problem is not that we can’t.)

    4) Shimon (and …..)

    Be them Cohanim or not, be them males or females, be them Jewish or not, we suppose they have ALS or similar. They *can not* serve in the Beit Hamikdash, they can’t even walk or talk or wash themselves. Let us think about it for a moment.

    5) Yaakov (and ….)

    These people, be them Cohanim or not, be them males or females, Yidden or goyim, have a difficult disability. They have no awareness. They can not even wonder if they would like to be the Cohen Gadol.

    None of these people serve in the Beit Hamikdash. There is no practical difference.

    Are we really bothered by the fact that #2, who looks fit enough to us to serve, is instead disqualified by Torah?

    Personally I am very bothered by the fact there exist people like #5 whose suffering is beyond human understanding and by the fact there exist people like #4 whose suffering is instead very obvious to their friends as they are aware and thanks to computers etc. can interact with everyone else. While I do not have an answer and I think no one does, I think most people who are bothered by #2, by a G-d who could have allowed the person with a small physical problem to serve (which now is theoretical, and when Moshiach will come, we may hope that blemishes will be immediately healed) — how so much more will they be bothered by #4 and #5, especially when it is an obviously innocent person who have been suffering since birth.

    Maybe Golda will prove me wrong, but that’s how I see it.

    #949914

    thegra
    Member

    “Even if he held it was a safek, we clearly don’t pasken that way, as we are satisfied with one, and we say a brachah.”

    We are not satisfied with one. We just don’t have any other choice. Many poskim say the modern day “kohen” should give the money back, even lechatchila, because it is very likely he is not truly entitled to the money as he is very likely not a true kohen. Today, it is even vastly worse than it was 200 hundred years ago regarding who is and who is not a kohen with the entire BT movement- some people mistakenly think they can just look at a gravestone and if engraved within them are are the iconic Kohen hands will say “great, I’m a kohen” and they mistakenly tell their kids this and on goes the cycle.

    Regarding saying the bracha, this is no problem at all. The poskim ask how can it be that modern day “kohanim” are allowed to say a bracha since they are very likely not true kohanim. We say that safek brachos lehakel does not apply to a birchas mitzvah.

    Anyway, I will say it again, this has next to nothing to do with the asker’s question and is not the right place to address this topic.

    #949915

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    We say that safek brachos lehakel does not apply to a birchas mitzvah.

    Source?

    We don’t say a brachah on sefirah with only one safek.

    #949916

    thegra
    Member

    DaasYochid: “Source?”

    See Tiferet Yisroel intro to Seder Kodshim

    Kol Tov.

    #949917

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Did anyone check the sefer hachinuch?

    The first explanation he offers is along the lines of what Sam2 said. The second, is that the kohen’s appearance might be a distraction.

    It’s important to remember that any explanation is not complete, and can only offer a bit of insight.

    #949918

    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    Golda: Welcome! Thanks for posting. 🙂

    daniela: What do you think you stand to gain by focusing on the questioner, rather than the question? Not everything is part of some larger conspiracy to challenge major beliefs. Sometimes it is just a simple question.

    squeak: Good answer. Thank you.

    WIY: Why wouldn’t you just post it? I don’t have a Sefer Hachinuch handy.

    DaasYochid: Thanks for checking the Sefer Hachinuch. And for the reminder.

    #949919

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    I don’t have a Sefer Hachinuch handy.

    Sure you do.

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40631&st=&pgnum=379

    #949920

    daniela
    Member

    Really integral? You don’t mind that there exist heavily disabled people? I am in awe of the level you have achieved.

    #949921

    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    DY: OK but I only know how to find a specific mitzva in the English version.

    #949922

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    T613, I actually linked to the relevant page (I meant that now you do).

    For the future, go to the Contents page and search on that basis.

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40631&st=&pgnum=4&hilite=

    #949923

    rc
    Participant

    i do not know the halachic ins and out of people who are pasul from the avoda, but it seems to me that the person posing the quesion is applying modern day “political correctness:” to a situation which it does not apply. Everyone in this world was created with a tafkid. THe RS”O determines each person’s fate and what challenges they will face in their lives. It is also He who has defined the qualifications for those that do the holy avoda in the beis hamikdash.I am a housewife and mother. i too would like to do the avoda, but i am not “suitable” . is that mean? is that discriminatory? is it my fault that i am a woman? No , this is just not my tafkid, and i have to accept that. and i do happily…… I think we have to change our modern day perceptions, and realize that everyone has a job to do in this world. That by no means is the same thing as everyone has “every right” to do every job. Some are suitable and some are not. I find the same applies in modern day life when for example, the supermarket hires the elderly to carry out groceries, to show that they don’ t discriminate, but in the end, i feel dumb asking a 70 yr old man to lift my packages into the car. (or a pregnant lady for that matter.) so its very nice that you don’t want to discriminate, but the fact of the matter is, the job is not being carried out in the best possible way. Yes there is a very nice mentally disabled person who carries out my groceries from time to time, and i realize its important for him to have a job, however, i , the consumer, am better served having a young, able bodied, quick acting person do the job. it gets done faster and better. thats the bottom line. I am not saying dont give him a chance, i am just saying perhaps use him in the stock room (of course they would never do that , cuz the only reason they hire him is to show the public that they are politcally correct. see what a farce this all is?… hope my point was understood.

    #949924

    Sam2
    Participant

    rc: Your answer makes a lot of sense but is not perfectly satisfactory. What if I break your arm maliciously? Now you’re Passul L’avodah until it heals. But you can’t really say that it was Ratzon Hashem for you to be a Ba’al Mum here because it was my Bechirah, and only my Bechirah, that caused it.

    #949926

    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    DaasYochid: Thank you. Good to know.

    #949927

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Daniela wrote very profoundly about how we are different than the western culture in that we give inherent value to deed and externals. We are physical. There is no escaping that. If we want to be something and live a higher standard it has to be with physical deeds. Thinking and believing won’t do the job.

    Outside of Yiddishkeit a spiritual person is someone who thinks and preaches. We think as spiritual someone who acts out the Mitzvos.

    Daniela’s other point, also very well stated, is that this is not the first thing that one may call ‘unfair’. A Baal Mum is Pasul for Avoda just like a Lulav is Pasul when it is split. We don’t say it is unfair because we don’t care about the Lulav, but it is the same mechanism at play. Just plain Pasul. If you feel bad for him that he became Pasul, well, I also do. I also feel bad for any Baal Mum, Kohen or not. I’m sure Hashem has Rachmanus on him, too.

    #949928

    thegra
    Member

    HaLeivi: “very profoundly about how we are different than the western culture in that we give inherent value to deed and externals.”

    What are you talking about? Christianity along with all religions lehavdeel puts emphasis on deeds and externals. Have you ever walked into the Sistine Chapel? Most Christian organisations lehavdeel put more emphasis on deed than Judaism does. Judaism says talmud torah kneged kulam while other religions focus on acts of kindess and charity instead of prayer. That is why we say tzedaka is a lower form of giving then fasting and davening is. If you read Chovos Halevavos you will see that the ideal is to not be physical but most people in society need the psychical.

    The nature of most people on a low or average spiritual madreiga is that they need the lofty spiritual to be accompanied by the lofty physical. That is why an “ugly” kohen cannot do the avodah. The average non-ideal person unfortunately needs an attractive kohen to do the avodah and not an ugly one to have respect for it.

    Do not confuse the necessary with the ideal and spiritual-superficiality with physical-superficiality.

    #949929

    rc
    Participant

    Sam2 i think my explaination does work here, because if you maliciously break my arm then i am pasuul from the avoda until my arm heals it makes sense that at that time i am not Rauii to do the avoda because i am injured and cannot carry out the duties of the avoda the way they are meant to be carried out. just like if i would be a runner in the Boston Marathon, and i broke my leg the day before, i can no longer run. Its not the Marathon’s fault that i cannot run, The rules are not “mean” because they exclude injured or handicapped people, It is just a matter of circumstance. my explaination was simply that its not appropriate or helpful to apply our western views of political correctness to a Torahdik concept.

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