VOLUME 97 NUMBER 4
August 6, 2021
Av 28, 5781
Candlelighting Time 7:49 PM
Rashi cites the Midrash that we are prohibited from consuming blood and the Torah warns us in no uncertain terms that we must be strong and avoid this transgression. This is a message that even blood which normally one abhors yet the Torah mandates that we should be ardent and abstain from blood and we are rewarded. How much more so for those sins which we are inclined to transgress if we are careful and observe the Torah we will certainly be rewarded.
Nachmonides disputes this understanding of the Torah because why would we be admonished to be fervid and shun the consumption of blood since it is so detestable? Therefore, he explains that the Egyptians were engrossed in utilizing blood for their sacrificial purposes and perhaps we would follow suit and also employ it for our needs. This practice is recorded by Maimonides as well and therefore we might have faltered and pursued their rituals. We are commanded to be strong-minded and realize that we must be faithful and committed to the mitzvos of the Torah and not veer away and engage in the customs of the non-Jewish world. This approach is echoed by most of the commentators. What indeed is the point of the Midrash since Nachmonides’ question is powerful and requires an answer?
Chasam Sofer further questions that the Torah contends that evading drinking of blood will lead to a lifestyle that is wholesome and respectable in the eyes of Hashem. Why is one contingent upon the other? He explains and Kli Yakar also follows this approach that blood introduces a dynamic of cruelty into one’s very essence. And when the father is subject to blood’s pollution it is conveyed to the next generation as well. Therefore, if we will be cautious and not drink blood, then our very being will remain pure in our lifetime and in that of our future generations.
Ohr HaChaim in parshas Acharei-mos further explains that the nature of this contamination is because the blood of an animal transmits the animalistic type of disposition that it possesses. And what you eat actually conditions the consumer and recreates his very essence and causes ruination to his behavior.
Perhaps we may understand Rashi in this vein as well. Rashi cites from the Midrash that they were engrossed in the consumption of blood. Why would they have wanted to drink blood? We know from the complaint of the people concerning the manna that many of the people were averse to eating the manna because it eliminated their connection to the physical realm of this world. The manna was a spiritual type of food although it had the taste of any regular food. This posed a difficulty for many who desired to be more associated with those kinds of activities and pursuits that related to this realm of existence. Maybe drinking blood, which is the epitome of life in the physical dimension attracted them due to its very relationship with the physical itself. Therefore, there was a necessity to prohibit it.
The bottom line is that the Torah is strongly advising us to abstain from those practices and routines which promote us to view the physical side of life as exemplary and our objective as servants of Hashem. On the contrary, we must assign ourselves to explore those themes in life that will enhance our Jewish lifestyle and provide us with the impetus to always search for a better way to serve Hashem.
A BYTE FOR SHABBOS
We are commanded to bring our sacrifices to the Beis Hamikdash. In Hebrew the word for “there”, referring to the Beis Hamikdash, contains the same letters as the name of Moshe. Moshe represents the stature of one who is well versed in Torah. In order for the sacrificial order to be accepted in the Torah and invite the Holy Presence into our midst, we must excel in Torah study. KEDUSHAS LEVI