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October 18, 2002 - Image 113

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-10-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Tell Me Why

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A Perfect Four

Tues., Oct. 29 at 7:30 pm

Does Judaism recognize anyone as being without sin?

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PHILLIP APPLEBAUM

Special to the Jewish News

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM

AppleTree Editor

Q: In America, we say, "Nobody is
perfect." There are some religions
that believe their founders were per-
fect and everyone should aspire to
be like them. In Judaism, however,
all our founders are described as
normal human beings — all the
patriarchs and prophets sinned.
Does Judaism believe anyone
was or is perfect?
A: The Talmud, in Bava Batra
17a, relates a tradition that
only four persons lived never
having committed a sin:
Benjamin, youngest of
Jacob's 12 sons; Amram,
father of Moses; Yishai
(Jesse), father of King
David; and Chilav
(Chileab), second son of
King David.

Q: Is there a law or tradi-
tion that says a bride stands
to the husband's right dur-
ing the ceremony? Is the wife
buried to the husband's
right? Why?

— Reader D. G., Chicago
A: It is an ancient practice

among Jews for the bride to stand at
the right hand of the groom under
the chuppah (wedding canopy).
Although the exact origin of this
practice has been lost to time, some
Torah scholars have sought a scrip-
tural source for it. The most popular
of these is the Be'eir Heitev, a major
commentary on the first three divi-
sions of the Shulchan Aruch (Code
of Jewish Law), written by Rabbi
Yehuda ben Shimon Ashkenazi (born
1748 in Tiktin, Germany). In Even
Ha-Ezer 61:7, the Be'ir Heitev com-
ments that the bride stands to the
right of the groom based on Psalms
45:10: "At your right hand stands
the queen."
In Hebrew, this phrase consists of
three letters. The final letters of

.

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these three words, in reverse order,
spell the Hebrew word kallah
("bride").
As to burials, two customs prevail:
men and women buried separately
or together. In cemeteries allowing
mixed burials, the established cus-
tom is not to bury a woman (mar-
ried or not) next to a man who was
not her husband.
In such cases, there is no question,
of left or right; rather, the cemetery
rows are devised in such a way
that a married woman will
have her husband on one side
and another woman on the
other side. (A single
woman would have
women on both sides.)

(Tell Me Why thanks
Rabbi Yissachar Wolf of
Detroit for his expert assis-
tance with this question.)

Q: My daughter, the
anthropologist, specializes
in folklore. She's studying
urban myths and told me a
common one is about
insects called earwigs that
crawl into people's ears and
eventually destroy their
brains.
A colleague of hers said
he heard there is a Jewish
version of this myth and
wanted to know more.
A: The only thing that comes close
to this is an ancient Jewish legend
regarding the Roman Emperor Titus
(C.E. 40-81), who destroyed the
Second Temple in 70 C.E.'
The Talmud, in Gittin 56b, relates
that not long after the fall of
Jerusalem, Titus stepped out of a
bath and asked for a drink. As he
tipped the glass up, a gnat entered
his nose and made its way into
Titus' head. For the next seven years ;
the gnat gnawed away at the emper-
or's brain.
When Titus died, physicians
opened his skull and found a bird-
like creature inside. ❑

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10/18

2002

113

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