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May 01, 1987 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-05-01

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6453 Farmington Rd.

Religious Life Involves
Even Mundane Acts

RABBI MORTON F. YOLKUT

Special to The Jewish News

I

n this week's twin sidrot
we read of the laws per-
taining to the dreadful
and horribly infectious dis-
ease of leprosy. In an attempt
to stem the spread of leprosy
and other related diseases of
the skin, the Bible appoints
the Kohen (priest) to be the
diagnostician and examine
all the symptoms of a possi-
ble leper. Those whose symp-
toms are negative he pro-
nounces clean and sends
home. Those whose symptoms
show the beginnings of lep-
rosy, he pronounces unclean,
quarantines them and sends
them out of the community
until they become pure again.
In a quaint sort of way all
of this is no doubt interest-

Shabbat
Tazria-Metzora:
Leviticus
12:1-15:33,
II Kings 7:3-20

ing, but the question natur-
ally arises, what does this
have to do with religion?
Why should the Torah devote
so much space to a medical
problem? It would be in order
in a work on dermatology;
but in a book which gives
man the revelation of God's
will, a subject of this kind is
surely out of place. Why then
were these chapters in
Leviticus included in our sac-
red scriptures?
The very fact that these
questions are invariably
raised today reveals a sharp
difference between the tradi-
tional view of religion and
the contemporary view.
Judaism itself is often
criticized on the same
grounds. Many question, for
example, Judaism's insistence
on the dietary laws which
they see as a matter of
hygiene and not of religion. It
is doubtful whether this opin-
ion is correct historically, but
apart from that, it is a point
of view which Judaism rejects
most emphatically.
The definitive lesson which
we can derive from this
week's Torah portions is that
nothing which pertains to
human life is outside the
sphere of religion. Judaism is
rather an all-pervading, uni-
versally comprehensive sys-
tem of law which addresses
itself to every phase of

Morton F. Yolkut is rabbi at
Cong. B'nai David.

human activity. The human
body, as well as the human
soul, is its concern. Every-
thing that affects either the
physical or moral areas of life
comes with its purview. And
in this fact — frequently
criticized by Jew as well as
non,-Jew — lies the greatness
of our tradition. It offers its
practitioners a complete
guide to life.

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Many find this concept a
difficult one to accept. Wit-
ness, for example, the reac-

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JOEL S. DREYER, M.D.

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tion of many fine Jews when
a rabbi touches upon a sensi-
tive question like the need
for honesty and ethics in the
business world. Some would
say, in all candor, that this is
not the business of a rabbi.
Let the IRS worry about it.
In a sense, they are right. It
is really not a rabbi's busi-
ness. It is the business of
every religious person, of
every man or woman who
takes his or her religion seri-
ously and wants to practice it
as Judaism should be prac-
ticed.
It is the business of
everyone who ponders the
psalmist's words: "I place God
before me always." Always!
Not only when I attend serv-
ices, or don the tallit or light
Shabbat candles, but always
— at home, at work, in town,
or on vacation.
Here is an example of a
religious man: A wealthy in-
dividual was called by his
broker to discuss a sale of
properties. After a long dis-
cussion, the broker said, "You
know, my friend, I don't
think this deal is really for
you. There are too many
ethical shortcuts involved; too
many moral loopholes. Maybe
it would be acceptable for
someone else, but not for you.
You are too sensitive and
religious a man."
This is a portrait of which
one can be proud; when even
an outsider can sense. that a
man's religion not only can-
not be divorced from life, but
that it exerts a powerful
influence on every area of
life.
This is religion! God wants
to be part of our hands each
time we sign a check, part of
our tongue each time we
speak concerning others, part
of our feeling each time we
have dealings with people of
different races or creeds. This
is the challenge of the all-
inclusive and uniquely
Jewish way of life.

Chesed Veltachamim
Humanitarian Award

GENERAL CHAIRMAN

Eli Master

HONORARY CHAIRMEN

Richard Chrysler

Max M. Fisher

Paul Borman

PATRON COMMITTEE CO-CHAIRMEN

Jack Zwick & Dr. Lawrence Loewenthal

Cocktails 6:00 p.m.
Dinner 7:00 p.m.
Couvert $150 per "couple

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552-9690

37

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