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What's a Woman Doing in the Law Section?

I should be doing some research on the Ego, as that is what my topic/question for my next research project is, but I got a little bit distracted with the idea of getting myself a copy of the Mishnah...  The Mishnah is huge, but I didn't realise that until I got to the store and the shop assistant showed me the volumes.  Ok so that's a little out of my price range, but ones that pertain to Kedoshim, well if I could find them, that would be great. (The titles are in Hebrew).

I pray, I go and then I drive into Balaclava, as one does when they want anything Jewish in Melbourne.  There are guys with the curls and the hats and the long dark coats everywhere, and I'm not talking about ZZ top, I'm talking about Orthodox Jewish men walking in their religious accepted way of dress.  Some women wear head coverings and to the best of my knowledge some of them wear wigs to cover their natural hair because only God can see her nakedness...

Having said that, not everyone that lives in Balaclava is a Jew and not everyone who is Jewish is Orthodox, so there are lots of plainly clothed people walking around too.

I get there after being lost on the other side of town for a bit, it's cold, it's raining, there isn't much parking and I feel like an imposter.  Which I kind of am.  Apparently I look Jewish/Israeli, but of course I'm not, so I have to be careful not to give myself away and start talking about being a Christian or a bible college student or that I'm a divorcee or that I support the LGBTI community and I'm trying to deeply investigate the writings of Leviticus.  So I have to sound stupid when I ask questions and they respond in kind.  I say that I want to be pointed in the direction of the Mishnah, he says here they are, I say which one is about Leviticus, he says why... I say I want to understand it better, he says read the bible first, I say I have, he says I haven't... He says if I want to even begin to understand what the Mishnah says I have to know what Leviticus says or the whole Torah.  Then I get a bit upset with him treating me like I'm an idiot and I say, well I'm studying the particular verses 18:22 and 20:13.  He starts to raise his voice a little and shows me all the commentaries on Leviticus and points out how they say nothing about those verses because it's not up for debate, it's an abomination end of story.  I say it's interesting that there is no explanation and he looks at me like I'm a nut.  I say can I please have a look around he says, sure... He shows me a seat I can do some reading in.  (What a gentleman).

He's right, they don't say anything about those verses, so I have to look at the idea of purity, so what's the word for purity?  I see something that makes more sense to me and I have to ask what a few words mean to get more sense out of it and be given some direction.  I ask the other old gentleman with a beard and he says that Kedoshim means to be holy, or at least that's what I remember him saying.  I couldn't take notes, I might have scared them too much and risk getting kicked out.  Seeming a bit dim was useful.  After sitting in that seat and reading a few commentaries I found, "The Midrash Says:The Book of Vayikra."  It tells me the ins and outs of holiness, the prohibition against worshipping Molech and how Moshe (Moses) conveyed what Hashem (G-d) wanted the nation to know as laws...

So that's all great, I have a read and I find some really useful stuff, but then I have a look at this version of the bible that they keep on insisting I read first.  They watch me as I thumb through books and keep walking passed to see how I'm going, if I need further assistance or whether they can convince me to read what they call the... actually I can't remember what it was called. (That version of the bible they want me to read.  I've looked it up on Google and found nothing).  I looked at the said book (while I was in the store) and asked when it first got translated into english, because on the first page it said that this particular version was first done in 1993.  That seemed a bit modern to me, so I asked when it was first translated, and I get this really interesting answer.  "What do you need to know that for?  Do you have the earliest type of mobile phone?  No you don't, you have the latest, the fastest, the easiest to use.  You want the improved, better version, don't you?"  I said that was an interesting response, he grumbled.  I also said I was interested in knowing the original text, he said, why would I want that one when the new and improved version suits everyone's needs a whole lot better.  I was really amazed by his response and also discovered that their website said that their available copies of the English versions of the bible and commentaries by age old Rabbi's who they view as sacred, were "user friendly" editions.  For who I wonder?  Obviously for anyone who doesn't stand outside the narrow lines of the law (which keep changing with market trends) in their community.  I hope I'm making sense.  The point is, that the version that we're being given isn't what the original said, it is an "improved" version.  Improved by who, by who's authority and why? (If G-d said it, why was it altered?) I would think these were important questions, but I didn't dare ask.  I had annoyed them enough by my questions and by my insistence on checking through every single copy of the pocket size Mishnah's so I could find the one's on how the Rabbi's treated women and lineage.

Very tired now, going to give myself a massive break before I start writing down some notes for my new supervisor so I can write my next research paper on the Ego...  The Ego, that thing that makes us see each other as objects and stops us from seeing each other as equals.  :(

Note: Midrash: An ancient commentary on part of the Hebrew scriptures.
Mishnah: An authoritative collection of exegetical material embodying the oral tradition of Jewish law and forming the first part of the Talmud.

Questioning the origins is important because people defend the Torah by saying that it was handed down by God.  It came straight from God's mouth to Moses, to his brother and then to the Israelites.  If this is so, then it needs to stay the same all the way through, but if it doesn't and culture dictates law, then culture needs to make some much belated changes.  How holy is holy and what defines holiness?  Would you believe that the most important law in the Torah is; love thy neighbour as yourself?  It's not just Jesus insisting.

Leviticus Cover Page


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