Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Modernity in Torah

Those who underrate Torah, because it can't be relevant in "modern" times (usually the bane of Reformists), also underrate its divine authorship. It's as if to say God is blind to future developments.

King David wrote (Psalms (94), "He who formed the eye, will he not see?" To think Torah cannot incorporate modernity stems from poor Torah knowledge or lack of faith in God; Probably both.

This week's Torah portion (Mattos) illustrates such an example. Upon their return from defeating the Midianites, Moses orders some warriors to remain beyond the inner camp's borders for 7 days, to undergo purification. Who requires this purification? Anyone who, "killed a person or touched a dead body." (Deut 31:19)

Suppose some warriors killed the enemy using their bows and arrows, where others used their swords - would that make a difference?

Indeed it would! Our sages explain that the Torah's juxtaposing the phrases "killed a person" and "touched a dead body" comes to teach that only killing by way of touching, namely, by use of a weapon as an extension of the hand, such as a sword, qualifies for being rendered impure, because that's "like touching" - via an instrument.

So, had a Jewish archer killed a Midianite with his arrow, he could thereafter go straightaway to the inner camp and need not be delayed by the 7-day purification process. Not so the soldier who used his sword for the kill.

Today, in "modern" times, the same differential of law would apply, for example, were someone killed with a bullet - or with a bayonet.

1 comment:

  1. This argument that Torah cannot incorporate modernity stems from poor Torah knowledge or lack of faith in God, or both.....I admire your emunah and steadfastness my friend...God bless you.

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