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THINK THE UNTHINKABLE

by Rabbi Mordechai Pollock    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

I was in the dining room when it happened. Not my own dining room, mind you, but the dining room of the yeshiva in which I was studying. I was getting my breakfast together when it happened. . .

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I was in the dining room when it happened. Not my own dining room, mind you, but the dining room of the yeshiva in which I was studying. I was getting my breakfast together when it happened. . .

Sammy ran in, spotted David in the back of the dining room, and dashed towards him. Seeing him approaching, David stood up, at which point Sammy gave him a big kiss.

"Did you see that?" said Walter from the kitchen. Walter was one of the hardworking, non-Jewish employees at the yeshiva.

"See what?" I responded innocently.

"He. . .he. . .he just kissed him."

"Oh," I said, trying to hold myself back. "That's OK, he's engaged." I proudly told him.

"You mean they're getting marrie.?"

"No, no," I said with a big smile. "David is engaged to a girl and Sammy is expressing his best wishes."

"Jacob kissed Rachel, and he raised his voice and wept" (Genesis 29:11). Upon meeting his cousin, the young girl destined to be his life-mate, Jacob, a man in his upper seventies, kissed her. The shepherds around them were disgusted. Who does he think he is? He comes to our town to bring perversion. We have to do something about this. Jacob overheard their conversation and was upset. He kissed Rachel as an expression of love for his cousin, in a familial type of a way. He had no sensual thoughts, no lustful motives. If so, why did Jacob cry? He cried because he recognized that he had made a mistake. He hadn't realized that the townsfolk were so base and so sensually oriented that they would take his innocent kiss as anything more than it was. (This explanation of the passage is based upon the commentary Da'as Sofrim by Rabbi Chaim D. Rabinowitz, a noted Torah scholar in Israel. A discussion of the legalese of the incident would be appropriate for another time.)

We, the people of the Book, live life on a different plane. Although we have lived for centuries among the nations of the world, we remain, spiritually and intellectually, separate. It doesn't even dawn on Jacob to look at Rachel in a lustful way, he was thinking in more elevated terms. He was thinking of family and of the future of the Jewish people. The townsfolk were not oriented the same way and their reaction was formed on the basis of their base assumptions.

Sammy and David live a life of Torah; their orientation is one of holiness and personal growth. They never thought twice when they kissed each other. Walter is from a different world, spiritually. He is part of a non-Torah world where two men who kiss are generally not simply exchanging greetings.

With Torah as one's guide, one can live in a different world spiritually. One's thoughts are different, and one's actions are different. Jews can live among the other nations and yet be totally separated from their sometimes less-than-pure thoughts and lifestyles. This ability is only possible through the study of the Guidebook for Life, our holy Torah.

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Rabbi Mordechai Pollock is a teacher at the high school from which he graduated, Yeshiva High School of Atlanta.

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