Meaning Of Ritual Impurity In Judaism: TUMAT HAMET

Mar 2, 2021

jewish-ritual-bath

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:

Leviticus 12:1

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:

Leviticus 14:1

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying:

Leviticus 15:1

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:

Leviticus 18:1

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

And Hashem spoke to Moshe:

Leviticus 20:1

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:

Leviticus 22:1

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:

Numbers 5:1

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying:

Numbers 19:1

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying,

Numbers 31:1

יְחִזְקִיָּהוּ מָלַךְ בֶּן־עֶשְׂרִים וְחָמֵשׁ שָׁנָה וְעֶשְׂרִים וָתֵשַׁע שָׁנָה מָלַךְ בִּירוּשָׁלָ ִם וְשֵׁם אִמּוֹ אֲבִיָּה בַּת־זְכַרְיָהוּ׃

Chizkiyahu became king at the age of twenty-five, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Yerushalayim; his mother's name was Aviya daughter of Zecharya.

2 Chronicles 29:1

בֵּאדַיִן דָּרְיָוֶשׁ מַלְכָּא שָׂם טְעֵם וּבַקַּרוּ בְּבֵית סִפְרַיָּא דִּי גִנְזַיָּא מְהַחֲתִין תַּמָּה בְּבָבֶל׃

Thereupon, at the order of King Darius, they searched the archives where the treasures were stored in Babylon.

Ezra 6:1

וּכְכַלּוֹת אֵלֶּה נִגְּשׁוּ אֵלַי הַשָּׂרִים לֵאמֹר לֹא־נִבְדְּלוּ הָעָם יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַכֹּהֲנִים וְהַלְוִיִּם מֵעַמֵּי הָאֲרָצוֹת כְּתוֹעֲבֹתֵיהֶם לַכְּנַעֲנִי הַחִתִּי הַפְּרִזִּי הַיְבוּסִי הָעַמֹּנִי הַמֹּאָבִי הַמִּצְרִי וְהָאֱמֹרִי׃

When this was over, the officers approached me, saying, “The people of Yisrael and the Kohanim and Leviim have not separated themselves from the peoples of the land whose abhorrent practices are like those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.

Ezra 9:1

בְּרִית כָּרַתִּי לְעֵינָי וּמָה אֶתְבּוֹנֵן עַל־בְּתוּלָה׃

I have covenanted with my eyes Not to gaze on a maiden.

Job 31:1

נִדְרַשְׁתִּי לְלוֹא שָׁאָלוּ נִמְצֵאתִי לְלֹא בִקְשֻׁנִי אָמַרְתִּי הִנֵּנִי הִנֵּנִי אֶל־גּוֹי לֹא־קֹרָא בִשְׁמִי׃

I responded to those who did not ask, I was at hand to those who did not seek Me; I said, “Here I am, here I am,” To a nation that did not invoke My name.

Isaiah 65:1

אֵיכָה יָשְׁבָה בָדָד הָעִיר רַבָּתִי עָם הָיְתָה כְּאַלְמָנָה רַּבָּתִי בַגּוֹיִם שָׂרָתִי בַּמְּדִינוֹת הָיְתָה לָמַס׃

Alas! Lonely sits the city Once great with people! She that was great among nations Is become like a widow; The princess among states Is become a thrall.

Lamentations 1:1

וַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהֹוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר׃

The word of Hashem came to me:

Ezekiel 7:1

וַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהֹוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר׃

The word of Hashem came to me:

Ezekiel 18:1

by Yoni Schwartzman

The powerful meaning behind Tumat Hamet, or a human corpse’s impurity, in Judaism. One such example of how this manifests is in relation to a custom amongst many gentiles to hold open-casket funerals: Jewish people keep the body of their loved ones shrouded throughout the funerary proceedings in order to prevent participants from experiencing Tumat Hamet. Kohanim, the priestly descendants of Aharon, are forbidden to enter into a cemetery for this reason.

What is the meaning behind this Jewish value? Jewish religious practice is devoted to preserving, enriching, and living a G-d inspired life. It is about bringing good into this world by doing good for others; about bettering ourselves so that we can better the whole. Life is essential to this concept. Our lives are given to us in order to bring about a unique manifestation of G-d’s goodness in this world. Death is the polar opposite of this, representing an end to our body’s mission. In order to celebrate life and all that it means to us, it is engrained in our culture to value life and devalue death. This is clearly seen in the time of the Temple, when one had to purify oneself in a mikveh, or ritual bath. This was done in order to cleanse oneself of death’s spiritual impurity before going up to Mount Moriah to serve Hashem: an action that celebrates and thanks G-d for the blessings and life we have.

jewish-ritual-bath

An ancient, stone-carved ritual bath/Mikveh in Jerusalem that once served pilgrims coming to the Second Temple (Shutterstock)

Connect with Israel and Bible lovers from across the world

by joining the Israel Bible Community – the fastest growing Israel Bible community in the world!