Product or Process

Anything which we not merely occasionally mention, but repeat daily must be important, twice or thrice daily and it’s absolutely crucial. Pretty much buried in the discussion of the Ketoret, the twice-daily incense offering in the Temple (which we recite (or, as too frequently is the case, speed-skim or skip altogether), in the preliminary descriptions of the sacrifices and later, after the Ein Keilokeinu which follows the Amida), is a discussion (from Gemara Kritut 6a) of the ingredients, including the purposes of those non-spice elements which are, nonetheless, required.

One of these is Karshina lye, Borit Karshina, which we’re told improves/refines/ages the Tziporen (usually translated as cloves). Curiously, the Braita quoted in the Gemara mentions that mei raglayim, urine (yes, you read that correctly, urine!) would (chemically, at least) produce the same effect. However, the Gemara passsage also tells us that we not dare bring urine into the Mikdash because it would be, obviously, highly disrespectful. Yes, we twice (and those who repeat the karbanot before mincha, three times) daily remind ourselves that urine, however effective in the manufacturing process, is unfit to be used in Kedusha!

The point, of course, is that the “how” is just as important as the “what”. So vital that we’re reminded of this twice or thrice daily and in a very graphic way! When dealing with important issues, we dare not cut corners, especially when we approach the Holy. And as the Torah instructs us to make ourselves holy (Kodeshim Tiheyu ki Kodesh Ani,“Become holy because I (God) am Holy”), we mustn’t take even a single shortcut for the sake of convenience, neither in our own spiritual journey nor when mentoring another. Going further, expedience is never a Jewish value or a valid excuse.

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1 Response to Product or Process

  1. Rebecca Newman says:

    Lovely essay, Harry.

    Sent from my iPhone


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