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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • Torah Teachings

Cut Off

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Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

Av 3, 5768
Question
In Lev 7 and Lev 17 and many other places in the Torah there are references to a punishment of "cut off" from his people. On the surface this would seem like being excommunicated. Does it have more meaning? What are the implications of being "cut off"? (Physical, emotional, social, economic, etc.)
Answer
Being cut-off or Karet in the words of the Torah is discussed in several places. The simple understanding of Karet is not a physical or social punishment rather a spiritual heavenly punishment where the soul is cut off [to a certain degree] from the spiritual destiny that awaits the Jewish nation. The Talmud associates the Karet to have two indications here in this word the first is the early death usually before the age of fifty and the second is the childless death [see Babylonian Talmud Moed Katan 28a and Rashi on tractate Shabbat 25b]
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