Saturday, July 31, 2010

Alergic to death

Remember how last time I told you I was a Cohen, and how my wife had to go through some special training for that? Well, the reason for all that is because Cohens are priests (in theory, at least) and need to keep themselves more pure than the average guy. One thing that is the unholiest of them all is blood. Touching blood is a big no-no for Cohens, which is why my wife has (according to Jewish law, that is) to wash herself in the Mikveh after her period. In fact, touching blood is not allowed for anybody, and so Jews are not allowed to have intercourse during or around the time of the menstrual period. Any Jewish woman is required to check herself daily until the period is over, and then go to a Mikveh, and only then she can her husband. When a Jewish woman is working, she will avoid touching people during and around her period. For example, if you go to a store in Israel, and the clerk is a Jewish woman, she will usually ask you to put your money on the counter for her to pick up, so that her fingers don’t accidentally touch yours.

This also applies to food – for meat to be Kosher, it must be completely drained of blood during a special procedure. The side-effect of this is that kosher meat is much less flavorful than the kind of meat non-Jews are used to.

Another thing that is unholy is death, and so a Cohen is not allowed to touch dead people. Even entering a cemetery is strictly forbidden. That’s the stupid part, but here’s the funny one: The state of Israel, like many others, have dozens of ancient cemeteries. Many of them known and marked, but now and then, a new one is discovered. The city of Haifa, where I lived, has had one discovered under major road that crosses the city, and so they had to put a huge sign near it, warning Cohens that they must not drive through that road. Can you believe it? Orthodox Jews will actually have to drive half-way across town to avoid passing over a cemetery!

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