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Parsha Mitzvot: Shemini: Mitzvah 152 – Concept 459

“These are the contaminated ones among animals that teem upon the earth: the choled, the achbar, and the tzav, according to its variety; the anakah, the koach, and the letaah; and the chomet and the tinshemet. Only these are contaminated to you among all the teeming animals; anyone who touches them when they are dead shall be contaminated until evening (Vayikra 11:29-30).” We are commanded to observe the laws of impurity caused by the Shmoneh Sheratzim (Rambam, Hilchot Sh’ar Avot ha-Tumah – The Laws of Other Major Sources of Impurity).


The Shmoneh Sheratzim, the eight contaminated earth crawling animals, combined with the snake and the scorpion, total ten, corresponding to the Ten Forces of Impurity that parallel the Ten Sefirot. They are the source of all impurity, sin, and negative energy in the world. (Eitz ha-Chaim)

Few things are black and white. Most drives are neutral, and their sanctity or impurity depends on how they are expressed. Jealousy is usually a negative, but it can be used for good if a person is motivated by envy to learn more or strive harder to become righteous. Anger can be properly used in the fight against evil, as long as it is expressed in a constructive way. Television is considered destructive, but can also be used for good.

However, Rav Chaim Vital is teaching us that there are some forces that are considered absolute evil. The best way to put this Mitzvah/Concept into action is to make a list of the things you consider absolute evil. What are the lines that should never be crossed? What are the absolute values of my life?

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