Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Travel is Broadening (and G-d is Great)

By the Bray of Fundie

Where I normally daven, Yotzros are omitted except during the Days of Awe.

But I had yet another rare treat last Shabbos.

My "host Shul" was a Nusakh S'fard Bais Medrash where the Yotzros for Parshas Parah were said. However, the congregation did omit the last long piece beginning with the words אין לשוחח right before Qedusha*. By then my curiosity had been piqued and in perusing the omitted passage I found the paytan/liturgical poet waxing euphoric about the "uniting opposites" peculiarities of the Torah.

Inspired by the self-contradictory power of the Red Heifer to purify the impure while simultaneously defiling the pure, he cites a long list of similar Mitzvos.

In no particular order, here is a partial list of the paradoxical peculiarities described by the paytan:

1. Yivum The levirate Marriage vs. the default prohibition of one's brothers wife.
3. Shatnez Garments of wool+linen mixtures vs. T'keles b'sadin (i.e. woolen strings in a linen Tallis, not sure why he skipped the avnet=the gartel of the Kohanim)
3. Dam nidah vs. dam besulim
4. Generic married women vs. Eshes Y'fas Toar
5. Partial negah impurity vs. complete coverage purity. (edit shkoyakh to Product and Lakewood Guy)
6. Meat and milk vs. kosher udders.

I'm not sure why, but Cherubim vs. prohibited graven images did NOT make the list.

Re-reading it and the quasi-Sabbatean, yet not antinomian lyric: מתיר מאסורות מותרות-נותן מטמאות טהורות I wondered if this might possibly be a secondary kavanah when we make the daily blessing of matir asurim. A kind of continuation of Birkas HaTorah.

In any event the paytan's poetry reminded me of the overt covertness of the Torah and of the Rambam's famous line in the (desert) sand for khukim/ irrational Mitzvos. Insoluble mysteries and enigmatic conundrums in the Torah abound. In fact, they are front and center for anyone not deep in denial. It also reminded me that a basic idea of our monotheistic theology is that HaShem alone can unite all opposites and be the One source for all things, even for what is (apparently) mutually exclusive. All of this doesn't RESOLVE Predestination vs. Free-will or theodicy but at least it gives one a framework in which to "file" them.

Bonus discovery for parochial me: the lyrics of the Belzer hit כי אתה מלך מלכי המלכים--מלכותו נצח וכו' come from this past week's Yotzros! (I had not known this previously...live and learn) ___________

* Oddly this long passsage appears in the Artscroll All Hebrew Ashkenaz but not in the bilingual edition...HMMMM...

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