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Parsha Mitzvot: Acharei Mot: Mitzvah 185 – Concept 206



“Any man of the Children of Israel and of the proselyte who dwells among them who will trap a beast or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth (Vayikra 17:13). We are commanded to cover the blood of a slaughtered wild animal or fowl (Rambam, Hilchot Shechita – The Laws of Ritual Slaughter).

 

There is a significant difference between an animal that runs free in the wild, and one that is domesticated; a domesticated animal lives within boundaries. His existence is under the control of others. There is a simple peace to a simple life.

A wild animal, on the other hand, runs free without human constraint. It lives in wild areas, where there are more Destructive Spirits that derive their existence from the violent life of the wild, where there are no constraints or sanctity. The wild beast breathes the air of its environment, and what it breathes permeates its blood.

The same is true of a bird that flies high above our heads; free, absorbing the air of free existence without boundaries, control, or structure. Even a bird raised in a pen is related to this idea of a bird.

Therefore, the blood of the wild beast and the bird, contains elements of destructive, uncontrollable influences, and must be covered. (Eitz haChaim)

This Mitzvah/Concept speaks to us of the importance of paying attention to the environment from which something comes. Many of us will not buy the products of slave or child labor. The idea of boycotting the products of countries we consider evil is not unusual. Many people will only but free range chickens and eggs. Others will not purchase meat that came from a large processing plant in which the animals are cruelly herded. When I was growing up, many Jews refused to purchase German goods. We sense that the environment from which something comes, matters.

This Mitzvah/Concept also speaks to us of the importance of paying attention to urges, and differentiating between those that are wild and out of control. Teshuva demands a stronger response to such sins.

This also speaks to the environment from which we come when beginning to pray: The “Blood must be covered,” when coming directly from a wild party to prayer, something not necessary when entering prayer from Torah study or a sedentary environment.

A dear friend told me that when he was a young teenager he always stopped for Shacharit services before going to the beach. The rabbi felt that it was inappropriate for him to come to services in shorts, and if his mind was on the beach. I felt that he was “Covering the blood of passion,” before going to the beach; preparing himself for the day.


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