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On the relationship between Tahor and Qadosh
by Benjamin ben Daniel
(with Tanakh references from JPS 1917)

The children of Israel are instructed to be both Tahor (clean) and Qadosh (holy). While Tahor and Qadosh have different requirements and seem to have different goals, they can appear equally important to the reader of the Tanakh. Teaching the differences between the Tahor (clean) and the Tamei (unclean/defiled) as well as between the Qodesh (holiness) and the Chol (common/profane) is commanded; but this essay is not about those differences. This essay will explore the relationship between Qadosh and Tahor. Hopefully, this will lead to a greater understanding of their goals and how each is applied.

Leviticus Chapter 10
8 And YHWH spoke unto Aaron, saying:
9 'Drink no wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tent of meeting, that ye die not; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.
10 And that ye may put difference between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean;
11 and that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which YHWH hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.'

Ezekiel Chapter 22
26 Her priests have done violence to My law, and have profaned My holy things; they have put no difference between the holy and the common, neither have they taught difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.

Ezekiel Chapter 44
23 And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the common, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.

Qadosh is the Hebrew word for holy. The children of Israel are a holy people set apart unto YHWH; therefore, we are to be Qadosh - set apart from the common. A basic advantage to being Qadosh is you are able to be in the presence of YHWH. Qadosh applies not only to the children of Israel; it applies to specific objects, places, acts, and days which are set apart from the common, prepared especially for the one and only god, YHWH.

Children of Israel being a holy people:
Exodus Chapter 22
30 And ye shall be holy men unto Me; therefore ye shall not eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.

Leviticus Chapter 19
1 And YHWH spoke unto Moses, saying:
2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them: Ye shall be holy; for I YHWH your God am holy.

Exodus Chapter 3
5 And He said: 'Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.'

Numbers Chapter 18
10 In a most holy place shalt thou eat thereof; every male may eat thereof; it shall be holy unto thee.

Exodus Chapter 28
2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, for splendour and for beauty.

Exodus Chapter 30
25 And thou shalt make it a holy anointing oil, a perfume compounded after the art of the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.

Exodus Chapter 20
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Leviticus Chapter 23
4 These are the appointed seasons of YHWH, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their appointed season.

Exodus Chapter 30
10 And Aaron shall make atonement upon the horns of it once in the year; with the blood of the sin-offering of atonement once in the year shall he make atonement for it throughout your generations; it is most holy unto YHWH.'

Leviticus Chapter 7
1 And this is the law of the guilt-offering: it is most holy.

Additionally, we are instructed to be Tahor. Unlike the rules on becoming Qadosh, the instructions on becoming and staying Tahor are clearly listed in the Torah. For example, when talking about the instructions for eating specific foods, specific descriptions of the characteristics of animals and plants are given. While some Hebrew words for specific kosher birds are not understood and debate continues on some foods such as eating mushrooms or algea based on the definition of seeds, one can still follow a specific set of rules to determine which foods can be and which ones cannot be eaten in an effort to be Tahor. Other areas of concern when dealing with our attempts at becoming Tahor are also clearly defined, such as prevention from touching the dead, a woman having a flow, a man having a nocturnal emission, a woman giving birth, etc. And therefore, based on natural occurrences, there will be, unfortunately, times when everyone will become Tamei.

Leviticus Chapter 12
1 And YHWH spoke unto Moses, saying:
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If a woman be delivered, and bear a man-child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of the impurity of her sickness shall she be unclean.
3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
4 And she shall continue in the blood of purification three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification be fulfilled.

Leviticus Chapter 15
16 And if the flow of seed go out from a man, then he shall bathe all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even.
17 And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the flow of seed, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even.

When one is Tamei, there are detailed instructions on how to become Tahor once again. Based on these detailed instructions, YHWH does respect and understand the possibility of our becoming Tamei.

There are even rules on how to act while we are Tamei. For example, while Tamei, we should protect ourselves from "contaminating" others causing them to become Tamei. Actually, becoming Tamei under natural circumstances is not, in itself, a sin. Sinning occurs while Tamei, for example, if we are not protecting ourselves from others causing them to become Tamei, or if we eat holy food and/or enter a holy place, or if we do not follow instructions to become Tahor once again.

Unfortunately, the instructions for becoming Tahor after becoming Tamei are difficult if not impossible to fulfill while we are in exile. Still, it is most important that we do our best to comply with and understand the laws of Tahor to the best of our ability. I believe this continued effort is to show our sincerity in our hopes that YHWH will communicate with the children of Israel once again.

Numbers Chapter 19
13 Whosoever toucheth the dead, even the body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself -- he hath defiled the tabernacle of YHWH -- that soul shall be cut off from Israel; because the water of sprinkling was not dashed against him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him.
17 And for the unclean they shall take of the ashes of the burning of the purification from sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel.
18 And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched the bone, or the slain, or the dead, or the grave.
19 And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify him; and he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.

Now that we have a basic understanding of what is laid out in the Torah concerning the Tahor and Qadosh concepts, the relationship between them can be examined. How do their goals affect one another? In other words, how does becoming Tamei affect the ability to become Qadosh? And, if we become Chol, does it have an affect on our becoming Tahor? The following verses were found when cross referencing Tahor and Qadosh:

Leviticus Chapter 11
43 Ye shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarmeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.
44 For I am YHWH your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; for I am holy; neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of swarming thing that moveth upon the earth.

Leviticus Chapter 21
1 And YHWH said unto Moses: Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them: There shall none defile himself for the dead among his people;
2 except for his kin, that is near unto him, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother;
3 and for his sister a virgin, that is near unto him, that hath had no husband, for her may he defile himself.
4 He shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.

As mentioned previously, someone that is Tamei shall not come into contact with someone or something Tahor and, interestingly enough, this would include someone or something that is Qadosh. Someone Tamei risks defiling the sanctuary of YHWH; and therefore, logically speaking, someone Tamei can not be Qadosh. Holy is to be set apart unto YHWH. Becoming Tamei is to cancel out Qadosh making the Qodesh both defiled and detestable.

Leviticus Chapter 20
25 Ye shall therefore separate between the clean beast and the unclean, and between the unclean fowl and the clean; and ye shall not make your souls detestable by beast, or by fowl, or by any thing wherewith the ground teemeth, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean.
26 And ye shall be holy unto Me; for I YHWH am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, that ye should be Mine.

Leviticus Chapter 22
4 What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath an issue, he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth any one that is unclean by the dead; or from whomsoever the flow of seed goeth out;
5 or whosoever toucheth any swarming thing, whereby he may be made unclean, or a man of whom he may take uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he hath;
6 the soul that toucheth any such shall be unclean until the even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he bathe his flesh in water.

Numbers Chapter 9
7 And those men said unto him: 'We are unclean by the dead body of a man; wherefore are we to be kept back, so as not to bring the offering of YHWH in its appointed season among the children of Israel?'
8 And Moses said unto them: 'Stay ye, that I may hear what YHWH will command concerning you.'
9 And YHWH spoke unto Moses, saying:
10 'Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If any man of you or of your generations shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto YHWH;
11 in the second month on the fourteenth day at dusk they shall keep it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs;
12 they shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break a bone thereof; according to all the statute of the passover they shall keep it.

Numbers Chapter 19
20 But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of YHWH; the water of sprinkling hath not been dashed against him: he is unclean.

Isaiah Chapter 52
1 Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.

Isaiah Chapter 65
4 That sit among the graves, and lodge in the vaults; that eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
5 That say: 'Stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou'; these are a smoke in My nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

Leonard Nemoy alludes to the fact that "the unclean are not Qadosh" in the following quote. He explains that a "clean" person wearing "clean" clothes in a "clean" place can acceptably seek YHWH through prayer. Prayers are set apart unto YHWH, as are sacrifices - both are therefore, Qadosh. He goes on to say that the land is Tamei; so I believe this explains a common practice among the Karaites where a Tahor rug is laid on the ground to create a Tahor place for prayer.

Leonard Nemoy
pp 64-65

[Prayer not equivalent to sacrifice]
Know ye also that prayer is not the same as sacrifice, for sacrifice is not acceptable except when offered at the chosen place by the hand of a man from the chosen Tribe, that is to Say, in the Lord's Sanctuary by the hands of officiants from the children of Aaron clad in holy vestments. Not so prayer, which is permitted to any man that is clean, is clad in any clean, but not holy, garments, and is in any clean place. It is [not]40 for us to say that no prayer may be offered except in a sanctified place, for he who designates a non-precept as a precept is the same as if he had designated a precept as a non-precept. Do you not know that the Lord has designated all the lands of the Gentiles as unclean ground, because of the Gentiles' uncleanness, and has called even the Land of Israel an unclean land (Ezra 9:11), by reason of Gentiles being therein, as it is written, through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands (ibid.)? A holy place cannot be (situated) upon unclean ground, and he who designates a non-precept as a precept is the same as a worshiper of other gods. Hence it is written, And the Lord shall scatter you among the peoples ... and there ye 40 Read [l'N] i:m (which makes Mann's emendation N~' unnecessary). shall serve gods, the work of men's hands (Deut. 4:27-28 ) where today is there among Israel any worship of wooden or stone idols? Know therefore that all festive seasons, statutes, and judgments not ordained by the Lord are the same as the worship of other gods, which is why Scripture says, Go ye, serve everyone his idols, even because ye will not hearken unto Me (Ezek. 20:39). All manmade precepts learned by rote are the same as the worship of wood and stone, they are statutes that are not good, and ordinances whereby they cannot live (Ezek. 20:25).

Quite clearly therefore, being Tahor is a requirement for someone or something to be Qadosh. It is not the only requirement for someone to be Qadosh; but prior to even being considered potentially Qadosh, someone must be Tahor. As also mentioned previously, the goal of becoming Qadosh is to be capable of being in the presence of YHWH. Therefore, we come to the conclusion of my essay:

Being in the presence of YHWH is the goal. To be in YHWH's presence, we must be Qadosh. And being Tahor is required to be Qadosh.

Psalms Chapter 24
3 Who shall ascend into the mountain of YHWH? and who shall stand in His holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not taken My name in vain, and hath not sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive a blessing from YHWH, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.