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Contents:


  1. by Dennis Prager
  2. Children in the Ancient World | Reading Religion
  3. Conceptual Lacunae and Confusions in the Religion and Morality Debate
  4. Life, Death and Impurity

Douglas then states three rules for classifying meat: a rejection of certain animal kinds as unfit for table Lev 11; Deut 14 , b of those admitted as edible, the separation of the meat from blood before cooking Lev ; Deut , and c the total separation of milk from meat, which involves the minute specialization of utensils Exod ; ; Deut Analyzing dietary restrictions, Douglas then can identify what makes an animal an abomination, a classification which now includes notions of suitability for temple sacrifice and consumption as food.

In regard to a second major aspect of Purity and Danger, since so many taboos are connected with the physical body e. Douglas' second contribution lies in her treatment of body symbolism. She urges us to see the grand sense of social order macrocosm mirrored in the very physical body microcosm. The body is a model which can stand for any bounded system.

Its boundaries can represent any boundaries which are threatened or precarious Just as the social body is perceived in some way as an ordered, structured system which is concerned to affirm and protect its order and its classifications, so the physical body of individuals in that same society mirrors the social sense of order and structure. Just as the social body is concerned about its boundaries frontiers, city walls, gates , so too the physical body is the object of concern as to its surface skin, hair, clothing and orifices eyes, mouth, genitals, anus. What crosses the frontier, the city walls and the door of the house is of great concern: strangers are always suspect.

What flakes off of the body surface and what pours from its orifices are comparably of great concern. All of these substances are matter which is "out of place" and so dangerous, even "unclean. Hands feed the mouth; and if the orifice of the mouth is the object of great concern, either in regard to what speech may exit or to what foods may enter, then "clean" hands contribute to "cleanness" of mouth and person. Douglas' overriding concern is with the meaning of purity and pollution classification, namely, what is communicated by this type of language? Hence she asks about the social function of such labels and their relationship to the social construction of reality by a group.

Labelling things or persons "pure" or "polluted" serves to establish identity and maintain the group, which now has power to include or exclude. It can also reinforce the moral code of a group Or, conerning the significance of controlling bodily orifices, she says, The Israelites were always in their history a hard-pressed minority. In their beliefs all the bodily issues were polluting, blood, pus, excreta, semen, etc. The threatened boundaries of their body politic would be well mirrored in their care for the integrity, unity and purity of the physical body Douglas' work had an immediate and profound impact on biblical scholarship.

Interpreters were quick to see her observations on purity and pollution as a clue to investigating the symbolic universe of the ancients. For example, Jean Soler employed many of Douglas' insights in a penetrating study of Gen 1 He demonstrated the replication of the Jewish cultural values of "whole" and "perfect" in the creation story, in the temple system, and in daily life. And in a sense he made explicit what Douglas had occasionally stated but left implicit, how the basic labelling of something as whole and perfect is replicated redundantly in a culture, not only in regard to the major religious symbol of the Temple, but in terms of food and dietary rules observed in homes, and in terms of the kashrut laws which keep separate the yoking of ox and ass, the interweaving of wool and flax etc.


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The same sense of wholeness or perfection of category occurs redundantly in all areas of life. Among those who perceived the utility of Douglas' models for biblical interpretation, Jacob Neusner wrote a history of purity concerns in Israel, second-temple Judaism and Talmudic times We earlier discussed his book, The Idea of Purity in Ancient Judaism, as an example of a descriptive, historical approach.

In the last chapter he acknowledges Douglas' anthropological interpretation, but does not use it, nor did he adequately understand it. Yet Neusner helped shape the discussion by giving salience to Douglas' approach to the topic and by the very title of his book The Idea of Purity , a concept repeated in subsequent articles "The Idea of Purity in Ancient Judaism," ; "History and Purity in First-Century Judaism," He easily explained that rules for "clean" and "unclean" pertain to the cult, but he failed to see their replication in other aspects of cultural life.

In part, this resulted from Neusner's failure to employ the second aspect of Douglas' model, the social perception of the physical body as a replication of the general norms and values of the culture. As the subtitle of his book indicates, The New Testament World. Insights from Cultural Anthropology, Bruce Malina developed a fulsome anthropological model of clean and unclean, which is illustrated from first-century Judaism especially in terms of an analysis both of marriage and physical anomalies.

He then applied the material to the issue of sacrifice, introducing into the consideration ideas about rites of passage which permit boundary crossings into areas normally "out of place" to "clean" people. In regard to persons crossing forbidden and dangerous boundaries, Malina has developed elsewhere the concept of a "limit breaker" who functions in rites of passage pertaining to clean and unclean boundaries , an important element for assessing the apology for Jesus' commerce with the "taxcollectors and sinners" of his world see Mark Finally he considered Christian purity arrangements, which would necessarily be in conflict with Jewish considerations.

Malina's work advanced Douglas' discussion of "clean" and "unclean" by indicating how purity concerns are replicated in a variety of areas and how one needs a model of ritual to explain why and how people lapse into unclean states and come out of them. Like her, Malina does not focus on a specific document, but illustrates the pervasiveness of this labelling in the Bible. The modeling is rich and productive, and the illustrations indicate the replication of such concerns throughout a symbolic system.

Douglas' own works, while profound and stimulating, needed to be tamed into a workable model, which is the paramount value of Malina's discussion. Hence, it is an excellent introduction to the topic.

by Dennis Prager

Concerning the issue of holy people dealing with the unclean, Douglas' material was applied by Jerome Neyrey to the perception of Jesus in Mark's gospel a. Jesus is proclaimed by some as holy and sinless, yet others perceive him as constantly "out of place" because: a he has commerce with unclean people lepers, menstruants, sinners, etc. Douglas' abstract ideas about "pollution" as matter "out of place," can be fleshed out in terms of the general cultural expectations about what it means to be "whole," "perfect" or "in place. Using the priestly documents as symbol, one can gain a sense of the basic cultural lines whereby second-temple Jews classified and located persons, times, places and things.

These classifications can be expressed in a set of "maps" such as a "map of persons" t. Kelim 1. Moed and "map of things" m. We include the following four "maps" or lists as characteristic examples of pervasive classification systems. Neyrey leads readers who are aware of such pervasive cultural maps to see how pervasively Jesus was "out of place" according to the perceptions of his culture. So much of the conflict in the gospels has to do with peer censure of Jesus as "unclean" for his breach of cultic and bodily purity rules.

Yet, of course, his followers perceived him as authorized to cross these lines; they acclaimed him as "the Holy One of God," innocent, sinless and fully within God's camp. Neyrey's study of Mark clearly depends on the theory of Mary Douglas and the modelling of Bruce Malina. It offers a lucid and systematic presentation, not only of the concept of "purity," but of the specific Jewish articulation of this in the interpretation of a gospel text.

His study itself can serve as a model for reading other New Testament documents, and so commends itself for its insight, thoroughness and utility. In a subsequent analysis of Mark 7, Neyrey developed further his use of the model of purity for a "symbolic interpretation" of the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees b This article begins once more with a model of purity drawn from Douglas and Malina.

Neyrey wishes to examine why, on the one hand, the Pharisees are said to be concerned with washing rites and with things external, and conversely, Jesus is credited with both abolition of food concerns and espousal of things internal. This required him to develop a model of the physical body, especially the notion that control of the individual physical body replicates issues of social control of the group.

This led Neyrey to pay special attention to the historical statements credited to the pre Pharisees. The Houses' rulings pertaining either immediately or ultimately to table-fellowship involve preparation of food, ritual purity relating directly to food or indirectly to the need to keep food ritually clean, and agricultural rules concerning the proper growing, tithing, and preparation of agricultural produce for table use. The agricultural laws relate to producing or preparing food for consumption, assuring either that tithes and offerings have been set aside as the law requires, or that conditions for the nurture of crops have conformed to biblical taboos.

Of the individual Houses' legal pericopae, no fewer than , approximately 67 per cent of the whole, directly or indirectly concern table-fellowship. The Houses' laws of ritual cleanness apply in the main to the ritual cleanness of foods, and of people, dishes, and implements involved in its preparation Jacob Neusner, From Politics to Piety [Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, ] The Pharisees' guarding of the mouth in regard to food and the relative unconcern for it by Jesus symbolizes the relatively closed or open boundaries of each group. This social strategy embodies and replicates a more complete ideology of each group:.

Thus using models both of Jewish purity concerns and of the physical body, Neyrey argues for a thorough correlation between socio-political strategy and bodily concern:. This article takes the reader well past Neyrey's earlier study of "The Idea of Purity in Mark" b , for it examines a specific controversy story in depth. It is more than a mere demonstration that purity concerns are operative in the gospel presentation of Jesus, for it seeks to explore not only the strategy and behavior of Jesus but also that of his rivals, the Pharisees.

Its attempt to link social ideology and bodily behavior is a critical step forward in interpreting biblical documents. And since foods, meals, and table etiquette remained persistent and controversial throughout early Christianity, Neyrey's study offers readers a cogent analysis of the symbolic significance of this issue. Several years later Neyrey applied his model of purity to the interpretation of Luke-Acts Here he offered a first attempt at constructing a semantic word field for these labels as part of an articulation of the specific cultural meanings of purity in Luke's world.

Most of his attention was focussed on boundaries, either social or physical boundaries, which Jesus is portrayed as ignoring or transgressing. Again employing "maps" to indicate the classification system of Luke's world, he summarized the typical social perceptions concerning purity and pollution as applicable to persons, places, times and things in Luke-Acts :. Consecrated Judeans, especially priests, are in place in God's holy land. Gentiles, especially Romans, are out of place in the holy land of Israel, its sacred city and especially its temple see Acts The dead do not belong in the realm of the living but in their own realm of tombs and graveyards.

The sick do not belong in the realm of the healthy; lepers should dwell apart and cry "Unclean! To a certain extent, so should paralytics, the blind, the deaf etc. What a surprise, then, to hear of a paralytic being lowered through the roof into Jesus' "home" Luke Sinners, likewise, do not belong in the same space as observant Jews, which occasions criticism when Jesus eats at the table of a tax collector Luke ; ; Certain foods do not fit the full definition of what it means to be a sky, earth, or sea creature Douglas , and so they are marginal, unclean, and polluting.

Until a heavenly voice told him otherwise, Peter would never think of eating such Acts Since there is a specific time for everything, especially a time for "work" and a time for "rest," if "work" is done at the wrong time, that is, on the Sabbath, it is out of place Luke Finally, apropos of wholeness, there is a general prohibition against mixing kinds: clothing: wool and linen should never be mixed, agriculture: plowing should be done by either ox or ass, but never by the two yolked together, crops: only one kind of seed should be sown in a given field at any one time, husbandry: cattle of one kind should not be bred with that of another kind Lev ; Deut Neyrey then demonstrates how Luke portrays Jesus and Paul "perverting our nation" Luke , 14; Acts by transgressing the purity expectations of their society.

This is followed by an exposition of the Lukan defense of these actions, which includes notice of the righteousness of Jesus' family and their pedigree, their observance of certain rituals, the evaluation of Jesus by God and John the Baptist, and the proclamation of Jesus' sinlessness. Jesus, moreover, did not his contract uncleanness from any "father of impurity," but rather extended wholeness and cleanness to others. Even as he describes Jesus transgressing Jewish purity rules, Neyrey shows how Jesus established new maps and so new boundaries and new rules.

These new rules are grounded on a new view of the "holy" God of Israel, one that includes God's loosening of boundaries for a more inclusive membership in the covenant community. Like his study of purity in Mark, this interpretation of Luke-Acts presents a cogent model for perceiving the purity system in a biblical document, which can then be used by students to analyze other pieces of literature.

Yet "clean" and "unclean" are not labels exclusively pertaining to cult and temple, although that institution may be the chief symbol of the values and structures of Israel. The human body is also classified in these terms.

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Children in the Ancient World | Reading Religion

John Pilch began a study which first pursued historical issues: what was the "leprosy" which Jesus healed? Scientific, not biblical, investigation indicates that biblical leprosy is not the modern disease mycobacterium leprae. Further pursuing the issue of disease from a cross-cultural perspective, Pilch was led to an anthropological understanding of body and hence of bodily surfaces.

Using Douglas' materials as well as other perspectives on purity and body symbolism, Pilch explained how in certain conflictual social situations there tends to be great concern over social and also bodily boundaries. Douglas herself suggested that when "rituals express anxiety about the body's orifices the sociological counterpart. This kind of intuition was given full scope by Pilch's examination, where the issue of "leprosy" bodily surface or boundary functions in a larger social world where social boundaries are threatened and needed to be guarded.

The importance of Pilch's article lies in showing how purity concern are not exclusive to cult and Temple, but are replicated in the symbolic world of a culture and in particular in the way the physical body is perceived. Apropos of the physical body, Neyrey applied Douglas' suggestions about "clean" and "unclean" to body symbolism in Paul's first letter to Corinth b, reprinted in The same concern for order, wholeness and boundary defense found in the macro level of society is replicated on the micro level in the way the physical body is perceived and controlled.

Since what crosses boundaries is dangerous and potentially polluting, it is not surprising that Paul focuses intently on bodily surfaces, in particular hairdo's 1 Cor Men wearing feminine hair styles and women wearing masculine hairdo's blur the categories of male and female, and so are considered "unclean" and are proscribed. Again in regard to the crossing of boundaries, the orifices of the body eyes, ears, mouth, genitals are likewise the object of Paul's concern and control because they are the gates and portals whence cross foods, speech, semen and menses.

Especially in regard to bodily orifices, Paul strongly regulates a the sexual orifice 1 Cor , b the oral orifice for eating 1 Cor and c the oral orifice for speech 1 Cor His concern is with what goes in or comes out, that is, with what is "in place" or "out of place. And so it is perceived as "unclean" and proscribed. Comparably, certain foods i. Paul's strong control of the physical body mirrors his urgent need to control the chaotic social relations of the Corinthians. For any mutilation or defection would endanger its wholeness and so its holiness before God. Hence Paul is greatly concerned over events or behavior which cause division in the body or which might lead to a divorce, that is a divided body, or which tend to exclude others.

There are other studies which deserve attention. We can only mention them briefly and hope that we do not slight their value and importance. He is unconcerned here with issues of purity but focuses on the sense of "order" pervasive in Jewish Wisdom literature. Most importantly, he demonstrates the pervasive desire for and articulation of "order" over "chaos" in the Bible.

Without using the jargon of anthropology, he urges that we attend to the cultural value of order and its systematic replication in various aspects of Hebrew ideology and praxis:. But from the view of antiquity the "order" of the created world is not merely physical. The physical aspect is only one manifestation of an all-pervasive orderliness that lies at the heart of creation. Religious, social, moral order -- these too are simply facets of the fundamental world-order p.

The task of "wise" persons, then, is to find their proper place in the orderly scheme of things. Since the study of "purity" is an investigation both of the macro system of order in a given culture and its micro classification of specific things as "clean" and "unclean," this article, then, orients a reader to think abstractly in terms of large cultural patterns, which are the social construction of the biblical writers.

In regard to creation, Howard Eilberg-Schwartz digested and revised Douglas' analysis of the abominations of Leviticus in a study of the ideological relationship of priestly materials and accounts of creation He attempts to show the intrabiblical relationship of texts from Gen 1 and Lev 11 and Deut 14, but his analysis is guided constantly by concerns for "classification systems" and correspondences between ideology and practical issues.

He argues that the biblical and mishnaic taxonomies move progressively away from mere physical criteria for uncleanness and toward "human activity" in the creation of elaborate classification systems. The use of anthropological categories, while present and determinative of the argument, are lightly used, which makes this a recommended article for readers more inclined to historical and textual discussion. Nevertheless, Eilberg-Schwartz insists that readers begin understanding taxonomy and classification systems as the creation of the community, and so he urges that we be open to the various links between social structures and symbolic thought.

Dietary issues in both testaments remain a constant focus of discussion. Apropos of this interest, the article of G. Wenham provides an excellent survey of the food laws, with special attention to their explanation in terms of Douglas' study their symbolic meaning. More historical studies are also worth noting, which deal with questions such as eating with "unclean" hands in Mark 7 Dunn ; House , or on the cleanness of vessels used in eating in Matt 23 Neusner ; Maccoby or on the cleanness of those who could share a Jewish or Christian table Dunn In regard to issues of marriage and sex, several publications recommend themselves.

Bossmann's brief analysis of Ezra's marriage reforms, although it does not use the anthropological concepts of purity, calls attention to issues of endogamy, the stages of the history of prohibited marriages, and the relationship of this to the values and the larger cultural system of Israel Marriage rules replicate concern for group identity and coherence. Loss of blood, menses or semen involve a loss of "life fluids. No investigation of the Hebrew bible would be complete without some reference to the pollution attached to menses and semen. Eilberg-Schwartz's article offers a sophisticated interpretation of these materials using the works of Mary Douglas.

In discussing sexual ethics, L. Countryman spends the first third of his book on "Dirt" and its counterpart, "Purity" b The study begins with acknowledgement of Douglas' influence on shaping our understanding of clean and unclean. Countryman then surveys the shifting notions of purity in ancient Israel, first-century Judaism, the Gospels and then Paul. He argues that although Christianity retained the dynamic of labelling things clean and unclean, it paid less attention to physical purity i. He attends, moreover, to the interpretation of sexual issues in the New Testament in a way which both relativizes their stringency and explains their plausibility in terms of a specific culture.

One need not accept Countryman's conclusions to appreciate his careful focussing on issues of purity, especially in relation to the physical body. The monograph of the late John Gammie examines the concept of "holiness" in the Hebrew scriptures This book attempts to show that "holiness" meant one thing in the context of the Temple and its priests, another to the prophets, and still another to the individuals in villages and cities. Gammie, then, is sensitive to the different meanings that "clean" and "unclean" have in terms of the social location of different groups. The whole study, moreover, is cognizant of the anthropological contributions of Douglas and others, and so offers a satisfying historical and cultural examination of the topic.

In regard to New Testament documents, several studies should be noted. Neyrey turned from investigating the gospels in terms of the idea of purity to the letters of Paul. In two articles he employed the hybrid model of "witchcraft accusations" of Mary Douglas to interpret the social conflict first in 2 Cor c and then in Galatians a At the heart of a society which makes accusations of sorcery or witchcraft lies a pervasive sense of purity and pollution.

A witch is someone who externally appears pure, but who internally is polluted. The witch seeks to corrupt what is clean or to suck the life from what is living. By identifying someone as a witch, the accuser alerts the listening social group to a threat to its very life, namely, the unwarranted presence of a corruption which will destroy it. Neyrey shows how Paul labels both his rivals at Corinth as Satan or as disguised angels of light and his opponents in Galatia as those who "bewitch" the orthodox group.

By labelling them as sorcerers who threaten the group's "purity," Paul can then invoke intolerance toward them and demand their expulsion from the group. These two studies articulate the power of labels of "uncleanness," especially their ability to motivate people to respond intolerantly in ways they may not wish to in other circumstances. Likewise they indicate how groups view their cosmos and all reality in dualistic terms, that is, in terms of purity and pollution or what is permitted or proscribed.

Then, in a study of the symbolic universe or "purity system" of Paul's letters, Neyrey applied Douglas' model of purity once more This time he focussed on patterns of order and disorder in 1 Corinthians pp. Neyrey shows that Paul tends to perceive the world like any first-century Pharisee in terms of a highly ordered cosmos, with an appropriate place for every person, thing or time. His explanation of the macrocosmic sense of order in Paul's perception of reality illustrates Douglas' contention that "purity" pertains to the larger system of order found in all societies.

His investigation of the microcosmic patterns of order calls attention to Paul's a persistent inclination to list things and persons in hierarchical order, which is an characteristic sign of purity, b maps of persons, places, times, and things, and c his endless comparisons and rankings. Neyrey argues that the rationale for such labelling and classifying lies in Paul's attempt to exercise control over his congregations. In addition, he describes Paul's perception of "sin" and "cosmology. As a life-threatening corruption, it warrants intolerance and so excommunication of the offender 1 Cor , Paul's world is described as a cosmos of competing cosmic powers of good and evil, which are pure and polluted respectively.

Thus Paul's symbolic universe is structured around a radically dualistic perception, which is replicated in the order or disorder of the cosmos and the community, the control or non-control of the body, the understanding of sinful pollution corrupting a pure body, and a cosmic war between the forces of God and Satan.

Purity and pollution, then, are replicated at every level of Paul's perception. The value of this book lies in its thorough and sure handling of Paul's letters, in particular 1 Corinthians. Readers will be schooled in both the general sense of purity-as-order and in the specific illustration of purity and pollution concepts in regard to social and bodily issues.

Paul, then, is shown to be a typical example of first-century perceptions of purity common to Jews and Christians alike. Most recently John Elliott has examined the Letter of James in terms of purity and pollution. Quoting Jas , he notes that James casts his argument in the formal terminology of wholeness and incompleteness, which is but a specification of the more general labels of clean and unclean.

He quickly explains what is meant by these symbolic terms and indicates their social function:. Cultures variously use purity and pollution schemes in order to organize everything in its proper place, to define and demarcate what is complete or incomplete, who is damaged or whole, sick or sound, what is allowable or forbidden, who belongs to the society and who does not, what preserves the society and what endangers it. Accordingly, to call a person or a social unit impure, unclean, or unholy is to identify and evaluate the object as out-of-order, damaged, incomplete This indicates clearly that Elliott is attentive to the social control exercised by the use of these labels.

He then shows how James invokes these labels when he addresses issues of personal, social and cosmic disorder and order. Noting how the letter presents an extended series of contrasts, Elliott shows that these contain both the author's diagnosis of an unclean or unwhole situation and his prescription for cleanness or wholeness.

Elliott pays acute attention to the way that value classifications of wholeness and incompleteness are replicated throughout the document in regard to crises occurring on the personal, social and cosmic level. The burning of smudge sticks is also believed by some indigenous groups to cleanse an area of any evil presence. Some groups like the southeastern tribe, the Cherokee , practiced and, to a lesser degree, still practice going to water , performed only in bodies of water that move like rivers or streams.

Going to water was practiced by some villages daily around sunrise while others would go to water primarily for special occasions, including but not limited to naming ceremonies , holidays , and ball games. Yuquot Whalers' Shrine on Vancouver Island was used by chiefs to prepare ritually for whaling. Islamic ritual purification is particularly centred on the preparation for salah , ritual prayer; theoretically ritual purification would remain valid throughout the day, but is treated as invalid on the occurrence of certain acts, flatulence, sleep, contact with the opposite sex depending on which school of thought , unconsciousness, and the emission of blood, semen, or vomit.

Some schools of thought mandate that ritual purity is necessary for holding the Quran. Ritual purification takes the form of ablution, wudu and ghusl , depending on the circumstance; the greater form is obligatory by a woman after she ceases menstruation, on a corpse that didn't die during battle and after sexual activity, and is optionally used on other occasions, for example just prior to Friday prayers or entering ihram.

Conceptual Lacunae and Confusions in the Religion and Morality Debate

An alternative tayammum "dry ablution" , involving clean sand or earth, is used if clean water is not available or if an illness would be worsened by the use of water; this form is invalidated in the same circumstances as the other forms, and also whenever water becomes available and safe to use. It is also necessary to be repeated renewed before every obligatory prayer. The fard or "obligatory activities" of the lesser form include beginning with the intention to purify oneself, washing of the face, arms, head, and feet.

The greater form ghusl is completed by first performing wudu and then ensuring that the entire body is washed. Some minor details of Islamic ritual purification may vary between different madhhabs "schools of thought". The Hebrew Bible mentions a number of situations when ritual purification is required, including during menstruation , following childbirth postpartum , sexual relations , nocturnal emission , unusual bodily fluids , skin disease , death corpse uncleanness , and animal sacrifices. The oral law specifies other situations when ritual purification is required, such as after performing excretory functions , meals , and waking.

These regulations were variously observed by the ancient Israelites ; contemporary Orthodox Jews and with some modifications and additional leniencies some Conservative Jews continue to observe the regulations, except for those tied to sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem , as the Temple no longer fully exists. These groups continue to observe many of the hand-washing rituals. Of those connected with full ritual immersion, perhaps the quintessential immersion rituals still carried out are those related to nidda , according to which a menstruating woman must avoid physical contact with her husband, especially avoiding sexual contact, and may only resume contact after she has first immersed herself fully in a mikvah of living water seven days after her menstruation has ceased.

In December , the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of Conservative Judaism re-affirmed the traditional requirement that Conservative women ritually immerse following menstruation. In doing so, it adopted multiple opinions regarding details, including an opinion re-affirming traditional Orthodox practices and concepts, an opinion adapting certain leniencies, including counting seven days from start of menstruation, rather than its end, and an opinion re-formulating the theological basis of the practice, basing it on concepts other than ritual purity.

See the Niddah article for details. Classical ritual immersion and associated requirements are generally not observed by Reform Judaism or Reconstructionist Judaism , with the exception that both generally include immersion as part of the ritual for Conversion to Judaism , although Reform Judaism does not require it.

Tumat HaMet "The impurity of death" , coming into contact with a human corpse , is considered the ultimate impurity, one which cannot be purified through the waters of the mikvah. However, the law is inactive, since neither the Temple in Jerusalem nor the red heifer is currently in existence, though without the latter, a Jew is forbidden to ascend to the site of the former.

All are currently assumed to possess the impurity of death. Purification was required in the nation of Israel during Biblical times for the ceremonially unclean so that they would not defile God's tabernacle and put themselves in a position to be cut off from Israel.

Lecture 9. The Priestly Legacy: Cult and Sacrifice, Purity and Holiness in Leviticus and Numbers

An Israelite could become unclean by handling a dead body. In this situation, the uncleanliness would last for seven days. Part of the cleansing process would be washing the body and clothes, and the unclean person would need to be sprinkled with the water of purification. Kalash theology has very strong notions of purity and impurity. Menstruation is confirmation of women's impurity and when their periods begin they must leave their homes and enter the village menstrual building or "bashaleni". Only after undergoing a purification ceremony restoring their purity can they return home and rejoin village life.

The husband is an active participant in this ritual. In ceremonial magic , banishing refers to one or more rituals intended to remove non-physical influences ranging from spirits to negative influences. In Wicca and various forms of neopaganism , banishing is performed before casting a circle in order to purify the area where the ritual or magick is about to take place. In his books on Nocturnal Witchcraft, for example, Konstantinos recommends performing banishings regularly, in order to keep the magical workspace free of negativity, and to become proficient in banishing before attempting acts that are much more spiritually taxing on the body, such as magical spellworking.

For "actual workings" Aleister Crowley recommends a short, general banishing, with a comment that "in more elaborate ceremonies it is usual to banish everything by name. In Shinto , a common form of ritual purification is misogi , which involves natural running water, and especially waterfalls. Rather than being entirely naked, men usually wear Japanese loincloths and women wear kimonos , both additionally wearing headbands. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Ritual prescribed by a religion by which a person is considered to be free of uncleanliness. Main article: Tsukubai. This article possibly contains original research.


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Life, Death and Impurity

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