Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Daf Yomi - Yoma 84 - An Exalted Jew

An exalted Jew

The Gemara states that if one found an abandoned child in the city and we do not know whether the child is a Jew or a Cuthean, if a majority of the city’s inhabitants are Cutheans, he is treated as a Cuthean, and if the majority of the city’s inhabitants are Jews, he is treated as a Jew. If half of the inhabitants are Jews and half are Cutheans, then he is treated as a Jew. Rav said regarding the Mishnah that if most of the inhabitants are Jews, the child is treated as a Jew only with respect to sustaining him, but not with respect to ascribing pure lineage to him. Rashi explains that if the child is a female, a Kohen is prohibited to marry her even after she converts to Judaism, as a Kohen cannot marry a convert. Although the principle of majority dictates that this child was born a Jew, Rabbinic law requires extra safeguards to render her eligible for marriage to a Kohen. This is truly an amazing concept . One can be considered a Jew, yet we will not grant that person the status of having attained pure lineage. This idea can also be applied to the soul of a Jew. Although every soul was created from beneath the Heavenly Throne, one can cause his soul to be sullied through sin. The Gemara in Sanhedrin states that a Yisroel, even if he has sinned, is still a Yisroel. This implies that a Jew never loses his exalted status of being considered one of HaShem’s children. Yet, the Arizal writes that when a Jew sins, his soul departs from him. Yes, one is always a Jew, but a Jew without a soul is not an exalted Jew. Our ambition should be to remain exalted Jews, with the soul that HaShem breathed into us always functioning and retaining its pristine status that it had when it descended from the Heavenly Throne.