JBD – Jews of the Melbourne CBD is now on LinkedIn. Follow us here.
Shabbat starts on Friday at 4.51pm and ends on Saturday at 5.52pm. The weekly Torah portion is Nasso
Mincha continues at Ainsworth Property – 7/459 Collins St (North Tower), at 1.00pm and we use the WhatsApp group to confirm numbers.
Thought of the Week with thanks to Isaac Balbin.
It has become increasingly common to commemorate the life of an individual following their death by formalising a celebration of their life. This has deviated from the notion of a “wake”, whose origin is likely Jewish and is a night-time prayer vigil or watch kept over a deceased person’s body before burial. In this weeks Torah reading, we learn that the Torah ascribes to death a profound notion of defilement to the extent that a Nazir (Bamidbar 6:6) who comes into contact with a dead body must recommence their vow period. In the words of Rav Soloveitchik, “Judaism abhors death, organic decay and dissolution”. When a person passes away “he is freed from the commandments” (Talmud Shabbos 30a).
Death signifies the end of the ability of a person to infuse their life and the world with holiness through Torah and Mitzvot. Creative man, challenged man, spiritual man—able to transform the world so that it is (more) suitable for God to shine his countenance–is jarringly terminated through death. In this sense, any person who has been defiled by a corpse must stay away from the Temple. A Nazarite must shave his head and start again. The Cohanim are generally forbidden to become defiled. The higher their level of holiness, the more stringent the command to avoid such impurity. For Judaism, death is a tragedy above all. It signifies the inability of a body infused by the soul to rise and achieve its Godly aims. It heralds a period of mourning. Celebration is not a Jewish response.