Tuesday, January 23, 2007

And the Learning Continues

So, as usual, I started a small post which I became engrossed in writing, and now I've been writing for over an hour and a half, and I still can't finish it, so I'll have to leave it for tomorrow.

In the meantime, just let it be said that I am now starting to be able to understand Chumash (the Torah) and Nevi'im (the Prophets) in the original Hebrew, though I still need a dictionary handy, so it feels good to be making progress.

What I learned in Yeshivah today:
There is a concept in Judaism of Morit Ayin, of not setting a sumbling block before a blind man, (yes, it sounds like a mean thing to do.) Our relationships with our fellow human beings are as important as those with God. For example, there is an activity which is forbidden on Shabbat (Sabbath) called "Dash", which is threshing. Threshing involves taking an inner essence, the wheat kernel, from the outer essence, the shell. Therefore, most forms of taking an inner essence from an outer essence are not permissible. Hanging out laundry is actually, in a roundabout way, not forbidden because of Morit Ayin. The act of taking stains or hummus blobs out of your shirt is considered extracting one essence (the nasty food) out of another essence (your shirt.) After you've washed a shirt, you would typically hang it on the clothes line to dry. Therefore the rabbis enacted a stringency that we shouldn't hang laundry to dry on Shabbat, even if it got wet accidentally, and even though it breaks no direct melachah (prohibited productive activity on Shabbat,) because people might see it, and come to think that you did laundry. Then, they might say, "Hey, that guy studies in Yeshivah and he's doing laundry on Shabbat, so it must be okay," and then they would come to do it themselves, including the washing part, and then they might, God forbid, come to transgress the real prohibition of Dash while cleaning their shirts.

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