Friday, August 10, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Re'eh (Death Eaters need not apply)

In this week's Torah portion, among many other things, we get the source for the taboo on tattoos. You shall not make a gash in your body for the dead. There seems to be an ancient pagan mourning practice to injure yourself when someone dies. Our Rabbis have expanded this to forbid tattoos and excessive piercings.

In a few weeks (next week for Sephardic Jews) we will begin to recite Selichot, the penitential prayers for the Days of Awe. We recite "the soul is yours and the body your handiwork... the soul is yours and the body is yours..." Our bodies are on loan to us from God, a temporary housing for our souls. We therefore need to treat this gift from God with respect. We mustn't mutilate it by tattooing it or piercing it excessively, nor abusing it with too much (or too little) food, alcohol, drugs or other detrimental things. Instead we must try and keep healthy. Remember that everyone's bodies eventually return to God, and you're going to want to get your security deposit back...

No comments: