Parsha Mitzvot: Ki Teitzei: Mitzvot 533 & 534 – Concepts 550 & 551
Said the little boy to the little girl,
“Pray, give me just one kiss.”
The girl was so surprised,
“You’re a stranger, sir,” said she.
“I will give you just one kiss
When apples grow on the lilac tree.”
The boy felt very sad at heart,
She was the only one;
The girl felt quite remorseful
At the terrible wrong she had done.
The very next morning
he was quite surprised to see
the little girl, standing in the garden,
tying apples on the lilac tree.
Gail Sheehy learned only at age 50 how her mother and grandmother had fertilized the soil by “soaking me in culture, literature, and lessons, then letting me choose the path.”
“When did you begin?” I asked my mother.
“Oh, from the moment you were conceived, I knew you were going to be somebody,” my mother insisted. “I had it so fixed in my mind that you couldn’t help yourself. I injected it into your DNA, kid!”
My mother’s laugh was a cascade of delight. At last, now that her daughter was 50, she was able to claim credit for tying apples on the lilac tree.
Gail Sheehy – “The Power of Experience”
One of the fundamental ideas in Chassidic thought is that our sins cannot damage our souls. Our bodies, yes. Our souls, no.
“His body shall not remain for the night on the gallows, rather you shall surely bury him on that day, for a hanging person is a curse of God, and you shall not contaminate your Land, which God, your Lord, gives you as an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 21:23) We are commanded to bury the executed on the day they are killed (Concept #550) We may not delay burial overnight. (#551)
Since a human being is created in the image of God, the hanging body is disgraceful to God. (Rashi)
We may damage our bodies, but we can never delete the Godly DNA that courses, not only through our souls, but our bodies as well.
We honor the body of the worst sinner. Not only because the body contained a soul, but because the body itself is holy; it was formed in the image of God.
I like to imagine the Mitzvot as apples tied on the lilac tree; they are reminders of the sanctity of the body, achieving what seems impossible. The laws regarding what we may eat, the laws regarding speech, the laws that address the dignity of the physical form, all are “apples tied on the lilac tree,” reminders that we cannot afford to forget the role our bodies play in our striving for sanctity.