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The Music of Halacha: Shabbat 23: Three Degrees of Separation: The Second Degree



We all experience degrees of separation. A parent must be consistent but each child needs individualized attention. A successful and mindful teacher will not interact the same with each student, yet cannot separate one student from the others. We constantly strive to balance the different degrees of separation.

Judaism celebrates how Israel remained distinct even while slaves in Egypt. We are prohibited from emulating the other nations. Yet, we live among people. Many of us dress the same as our neighbors and coworkers. We do not want to assimilate yet we strive to retain our distinctions. We struggle to define the boundaries of our separation: Some of us dress in the same clothes as our European ancestors. We have different standards of personal modesty, and many of our children are attracted by society and constantly test the boundaries of separation.

We actually have a separation ceremony – Havdala – between Shabbat and the week, between Yom Tov – Jewish holydays – and the rest of the year, and even between Shabbat and Yom Tov. We separate between milk and meat. Married couples separate to a degree at times. All of the above are different degrees of separation. We unconsciously use the Havdala, Hafrasha, and Bereirah of Halacha all the time. Our intention is to use the Shabbat laws to define these Halachic concepts and learn how to apply them to all aspects of our lives.

The previous Music of Halacha dealt with the concept of Havdala – Separation of Awareness. We live with a different awareness on Shabbat than we do during the week because Shabbat has a special spiritual reality. According to the Midrash and Kabbalah – Jewish Mysticism – our souls are different on Shabbat: They are empowered to achieve greater spiritual heights. The essay also dealt with negative separation such as that between intent and action. Perhaps we can further develop this idea to learn how to use it in a positive manner:

To Be Continued:

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