Biblical verse Lv14-09
purification procedure of the lepor
is written in a Theme-Detailed-Theme
style. This verse states
But it shall be on the seventh day,
- Theme: that he shall shave all his
- his head and
- his beard
- and his eyebrows,
- Theme: all his hair he shall shave off;
and he shall wash his clothes,
also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean.
We have explained in our article
that the theme-detail-theme
style indicates a paragraph structure.
Consequently the details are seen as the
development of the theme. The Talmudic
sages stated this development idea as follows:
The details in a theme-detail-theme
structure should be partially generalized to resemble the
Hence the Rashi comment:
Beard, head, eyebrows have hair that
is dense and visible. So only dense,
visible here is shaven. This excludes
- arm-hair, which is visible but not dense,
- armpit-hair, which is not visible but dense
- nose-hair, which isnot visible and not dense.
Advanced Rashi: If you look carefully at
the verse above you will see that the word all
is bolded. The word all always requires
generalization. Hence the additional Rashi comment:
The actual law requires shaving the arm and armpit hair.
In other words all hair is shaven except the nose-hair which
is neither visible nor dense.
This derivation is quite complex. My contribution is
to see the derivation as emanating from two Rashi methods:
The theme-detail-theme method and the special word-
Sermonic Points: The natural question is,
Why? Why should we care to shave off this hair or that
hair? A beautiful, deep and profound answer is given by Rav
Hirsch who gathers several example of shaving procedures.
(For example the shaving procedure for the Levites mentioned
Rav Hirsch explains that shaving symbolically
affirms the presence of the female personality since women
do not have visible dense hair (Except on their heads).
The lepor is guilty of slander. A classical source of slander
is between husband and wife when then man does not understand
the special needs of the woman. To remove this source of slander
the man must enter a female stage in which he becomes empathic
with female feeling. This atones for the slander since now the man
understands the way the woman feels. For this reason
the symbolic feminization of the man by shaving hear
is part of the lepor purification procedure.