Monday, March 23, 2015

#blogExodus 3 Nisan - Cleanse



The phrase, "Cleanliness is next to godliness" is an often mentioned phrase sometimes attributed to the Bible. Though the real source was John Wesley an 18th century evangelist credited with founding what would become the Methodist Church. 

In traditional Jewish practice, cleanliness is often associated with the practice of ritual purification, taharat hamishpacha, family purity. These in turn deal with the complicated laws associated with the niddah or a woman who is menstruating. However the laws of ritual purification also deal with men as well. And in both cases, male an female, if a person is considered ritually impure, they are supposed to go to the mikveh and ritually purify themselves in the mayim chayyim, the living waters.

There are also laws and customs for the chevrei kaddisha, the Jewish Burial Society, that among their other holy responsibilities are to wash and prepare the body for burial. 

However none of these are specifically related to cleanliness, or at least the modern sense of cleanliness. So how then is cleanliness next to godliness, at least in Jewish tradition?

One possibility is that the act of washing oneself both physically can be a great way to start the day. What a great feeling to stand in a hot shower and just feel clean. Everything just feels better. So too when one cleanses their soul by laying it bare and scrubbing it, metaphorically speaking. In this way, to be cleansed means one is ready to take on the day or take on something new. 

The Israelites had to cleanse themselves following the Exodus, for three days, in order to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. What then can we do to spiritually cleanse ourselves for those critical moments in our lives?

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