This week's parsha
Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
The Fifth Year
A popular Israeli joke claims that there are three ways to do anything: the right way, the wrong way, and the Jewish way.
In fact, a careful reading of the Torah shows that it sees everything in the world as belonging to one of three primary domains: the good, the bad, and a third realm that's more difficult to define. In Halachah (Torah law) it's called "the optional" (reshut); in Kabbalah and Chassidism it's refered to as "the translucent husk" (kelipat nogah) or simply, "the undefined". Basically, in this third category a thing is not what it is, but what you make of it. It can be elevated to the realm of holy, or dragged down into the realm of the profane -- depending on what you do with it, what you use it for, even what you're thinking while you're involved with it.
Incarceration is a primary component of the United States’ penal code; in fact, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. On December 31, 2008, the incarceration rate was 754 inmates per 100,000 residents.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), “In 2008, over 7.3 million people were on probation, in jail, in prison, or on parole by the year’s end; that’s 3.2% of all U.S. adult residents, or 1 in every 31 adults.”
If only the prison system actually worked to rehabilitate prisoners. Alas, it fails miserably.
This week's Torah reading discusses the complex laws of ritual purity, tumah and tahara.
The Torah tells us that "every earthen vessel into which any [impure creature shall] fall ... shall be unclean."
There is an interesting distinction made in Jewish law between different types of utensils. If a source of impurity even comes within the inside space of a vessel which is made of earthenware, even if it doesn't touch the walls of the vessel, the vessel becomes impure. However, if it did not enter the vessel, even if it touched the walls from outside, the vessel remains pure.
With all other utensils, the opposite is the case: having a source of impurity placed within the space of a vessel does not make the vessel impure, whereas touching any part of the vessel does render it impure.
Why is this?