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View Diary: Yitro, The D'var Torah That Wasn't (20 comments)

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  •  No real conclusion as such, no ... (1+ / 0-)
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    ramara

    ... but I find myself leaning toward the "neutral ground state" idea.

    Purity isn't the same thing as righteousness, or spiritual growth, or understanding of God.  I think those are all things we achieve, while purity is a default state -- one we inevitably lose and have to restore, but not one we have to struggle to attain in the first place.

    There is no practice in Judaism of ritually purifying a newborn infant.  We are born pure.  Impurity is something that happens to us, either through our own actions or through the actions of others or through plain dumb accident; purity is a state we can always come back to, because it's where we started.

    I think this interpretation of the midrash makes far more sense in light of the sin of the Golden Calf.  If the first level of purity is spiritual perfection, how can we reconcile the nation achieving this first level -- and then almost immediately committing the sin of idolatry?  If the first level is a kind of blank slate, though, it's easy to understand; the thing about a blank slate is that anything can be written on it.

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