Monday, May 04, 2009

Still more evidence of shaving as mourning ritual

Both Kedoshim and Emor discuss prohibitions of shaving, and those prohibitions are in context of carving into the flesh, and in context of dealing with the death of relatives. Thus, Ibn Ezra and Shadal say that on a peshat level it refers to a prohibition on shaving as a mourning ritual. (See here and here.) This post is the latest in the series, with further evidence that shaving could be regarded as such in the ancient world.

In the first perek of Iyov, after hearing of the destruction of his wealth and the death of his children, Iyov has the following reaction.
כ וַיָּקָם אִיּוֹב וַיִּקְרַע אֶת מְעִלוֹ, וַיָּגָז אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ; וַיִּפֹּל אַרְצָה, וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ. 20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped;
כא וַיֹּאמֶר עָרֹם יָצָתִי מִבֶּטֶן אִמִּי, וְעָרֹם אָשׁוּב שָׁמָּה--יְהוָה נָתַן, וַיהוָה לָקָח; יְהִי שֵׁם יְהוָה, מְבֹרָךְ. 21 And he said; naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
כב בְּכָל זֹאת, לֹא חָטָא אִיּוֹב; וְלֹא נָתַן תִּפְלָה, לֵאלֹהִים.
22 For all this Job sinned not, nor ascribed aught unseemly to God.
Tearing his mantle is surely a sign of sorrow. So is shaving his head. I would translate וַיִּפֹּל אַרְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ similarly, not as above as falling on the ground and worshiping, but falling on the ground and laying prostrate. And all the above as a sign of mourning. Compare Moshe's reaction in the midbar while being challenged. But certainly the removal of hair here is mourning.

Rashi says similarly here in Iyov. He writes:
tore: Heb. ויגז, tore out, as in (Jer. 7:29), “Tear out (גזי) your hair for your great men,” which Jonathan renders: תלישה tear out, and like (Ps. 71: 6) “From my mother’s womb You pull me (גוזי) ,” pull me.
Indeed, look at Yirmeyahu 7:29:
כט גָּזִּי נִזְרֵךְ וְהַשְׁלִיכִי, וּשְׂאִי עַל-שְׁפָיִם קִינָה: כִּי מָאַס יְהוָה, וַיִּטֹּשׁ אֶת-דּוֹר עֶבְרָתוֹ. 29 Cut off thy hair, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on the high hills; for the LORD hath rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath.
Even without Rashi, the context of lamentations shows that it is mourning, but Rashi there writes:
So tear off your diadem: Heb. נזרך גזי, tear out your hair. Comp. (Num. 11:31) “And He caused quails to fly (ויגז) ” ; also (Job 1:20), “And he shaved (ויגז) his head.” Another explanation is that נזרך means ‘your diadem,’ an expression of greatness, and so did Jonathan render: רברביך your great ones, and so did Menahem classify it (p. 83).


Oferet Yetzuka said...

First evidence from soldiers of the Rachel Imennu miracle at minute 27 of this video:


joshwaxman said...

i don't see anything about rachel imeinu at minute 27. something about amalek. you sure it is minute 27?


oferet yetzuka said...

minute 27:30

joshwaxman said...

maybe I am looking at the wrong video? when i visit the site,
under the words
עופרת יצוקה - כיצד אלוקים נלחם בעזה,
in the video, it says as a captions agag-haman-hitler. is that what it should say on the screen at that point?

if not, can you summarize what the new evidence is?


oferet said...

No, there should be a video of rachel's tomb and then you have a number of soldiers claiming that they met Rachel Immenu.

joshwaxman said...

just tried again in Internet Explorer, and now I see a different video. i'll try to check it out.

Michael said...

I don't understand. If shaving head for avel is forbidden (vayikra), why is it considered normal practice by yermiahu, Iyyov e.t.c.?

joshwaxman said...

my guess is that this was the cultural meaning in the ancient near east, that Iyov does it because he is not Jewish (and possibly fictional); that it was still quite possibly in practice by non-religious Israelites at the time, just as in other cultures, or at the least, that they knew of it by witnessing surrounding cultures; and that Yirmeyahu (a kohen! from Anatot) is either not mourning for an actual meis, or has a direct command from Hashem which acts as a horaat shaah to shock the people and help his deliver the message.



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