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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Shmini

Parashat Shmini

Eretz HaChaim

Rabbi Ari WaxmanAdar B, 5763
Dedicated to the speedy recovery of
Asher Ishaayahu Ben Rivka
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The Torah introduces the dietary restrictions with the words: "Zot hachaya asher tochlu", "These are the animals that you may eat" (Lev. 11:2). However the term "chaya" here seems difficult since the verse continues "mekol habeheima asher al haaretz". Therefore Rashi explains (see Gur Aryeh) that the name "chaya" is being used here specifically to associate kashrut with the greater concept of chaim. "Since Bnei Yisroel are so closely connected to Hashem and are worthy of chaim, therefore I have separated them from tumah, and commanded them to do mitzvot, and to the nations of the world I have not commanded anything." Our separation from the world through the means of kashrut brings us to "chaim", an expression of the fullest, deepest, most complete living possible.

Eretz Yisroel is given the title "eretz ha-chaim" (Psalms 142:6). Here too Am Yisroel seemingly withdraws from the company of the nations of the world. But in reality it is precisely our step back that enables us to take the greatest step forward towards real chaim, the true life of Yisrael, and fulfill our destiny of being an "ohr lagoyim". (See Rav Kook, Orot p. 153)

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