The parasha begins with an admonition to kohanim not to touch or to be present under the same roof with the deceased body of a Jew (despite the differences of opinion, the accepted view is that of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai that a kohen may be under the same roof with the body of a non-Jew).
The prohibition on kohanim is in effect even before death sets in, when the ill party enters into a state of gesisa (death throes). There is an earlier state when a kohen may be in close contact with one who will shortly die, when the individual has been declared to be terminally ill but not yet gosais.
Life signs of a near death human can be extended artificially by feeding tubes, parenteral nutrition, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, defibrillation, artificial pacemaker, etc., but the Angel of Death’s patience has its limits.
The manifold parts of a whole human organism cease to function very soon after death sets in, however, individual organs can cease to function before death settles in. A limb can be gangrenous and amputated and internal organs removed with the patient continuing to live. There are maladies which are classified as autoimmune diseases, where the body produces antibodies that are meant to attack and destroy foreign entities (germs, viruses, etc.), but for some reason they begin to destroy the body’s own healthy tissues, often leading to death.
The galut can be viewed as a living, breathing organism composed of many individual organs called Jewish communities. Each community can function independently, but when one is diseased it can compromise the existence of all the rest.
We are witnessing a slow but progressive spread of spiritual gangrene overtaking the galut organism, deeming the general galut as “terminally ill” and the unaffiliated Jew and Reform as gosasim (death throes). The spiritual gangrene is deadly and very contagious, with the official diagnosis being the distancing of Jews from their holy tasks as God’s chosen people. This disease when not treated spreads very quickly, as it dismembers limbs from the nation’s body by intermarriage.
Jewish presence in the galut always was and is still “terminally ill”, with no chance of survival. Its life signs are being extended by the artificial intervention of spiritual leaders who provide their communities with a feeding tube of distorted pseudo-Torah, like “sit tight until the Mashiach sends a limousine to whisk you off to your private plantation in the holy land”.
The new, vibrant Jewish communities dotting the gentile landscapes across the good old USA, with their cheap homes, day schools, mikvaot, kollelim in places too difficult to spell, are shots of adrenaline or morphine which can extend the end for a time, but the writing is on the wall. The galut has served its purpose - to punish the Jewish nation after we were exiled from our land for leaving the Torah. And as all things in nature, when its purpose has been exhausted it withers, shrivels and dies. So too our long sojourn in the lands of Aisav and Yishmael has finished its historic purpose and now will go the way of all things.
The galut organism is presently also being under attack by a reprehensible autoimmune disease, in which the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissues. It will manifest itself next week when tens of thousands of Satmar and other break-away “lovers of zion” plan to demonstrate in New York against the Medina. The end result will be that they themselves will wither away even as they break off now from the main stream of Judaism.
Blessings for Improved Health
Over 2000 years ago, two great rabbis Rabbis Yosi ben Yo’ezer and Yosi ben Yochanan, with the agreement of the Sanhedrin, declared all the lands outside of Eretz Yisrael to be tmai’im (ritually impure) to the extent of the tuma (impurity) exuded by a corpse. Several parallel reasons have been suggested for this broad based, global decree. Tosefot (Talmudic commentaries) in tractate Nazir (54b) states that a major reason was that Jews should remain in the holy land.
The decree has special significance for kohanim, who as stated in our parsha must refrain from the tuma (ritual defilement) of a corpse.
One need not be on the high spiritual level of Rabbis Yosi ben Yo’ezer and Yosi ben Yochanan to see how correct they and the Sanhedrin were. The dying communities of the galut exude tuma, and the faster our brothers and sisters escape the better they and all the nation of Yisrael will be.
Rabbi Nachman Kahana is an Orthodox Rabbinic Scholar, Rav of Chazon Yechezkel Synagogue – Young Israel of the Old City of Jerusalem, Founder and Director of the Center for Kohanim, and Author of the 15-volume “Mei Menuchot” series on Tosefot, and 3-volume “With All Your Might: The Torah of Eretz Yisrael in the Weekly Parashah”, as well as weekly parasha commentary available where he blogs at NachmanKahana