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The Music of Halacha: Shabbat 24: 3 Degrees of Separation Part 3

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.

There is another form of separation in Halacha: Hafrasha. When we separate some of our wheat as Terumah – A Gift For The Cohen – we are performing Hafrasha. When we separate ourselves from the community, we are Poreish Min HaTzibbur, a negative form of Hafrasha.

Havdala demands that we have sufficient awareness to appreciate the difference between Shabbat and the week. They are different. We use Havdala to adjust our awareness. Hafrasha is when we actually create a difference between similar things, between one bale of wheat and the others by separating it as Terumah, or separating ourselves from the community.

We find the idea of Hafrasha in the Shabbat laws: The prohibition against selection on Shabbat is only applicable if the two kinds of items are mixed together, or, if they lie next to each other in such a way that you cannot draw a clear line between them. If they are quite separate from each other, the prohibition does not apply and there is nothing wrong with removing either of them, at one’s discretion. Hafrasha is also considered to be Malechet Machashevet: Thoughtful Creative Action. We cannot take one thing from a mix and select it to be different.

This would be similar to the difference between a teacher singling out a child for special attention or responding to a child who had already separated herself from the other students. The former is Hafrasha. The latter is not. The former, defined as Malechet Machashevet – Thoughtful Creative Action – demands more thought and consideration than the latter case.

When we charge our children to maintain their identity as Jews we are demanding Hafrasha. The instruction must be well thought out, considered and deliberate. The children must be able to understand to what are we Mafrish them: Is it in the positive sense, as when we are Mafrish Terumah, or the negative when we are Poreish min HaTzibbur?

To Be Continued…

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