Friday, January 4, 2008

Shaatnez (Mixing Wool and Linen)



Within Judaism there is a law and a teaching regarding combining wool and linen. This law is known as Shaatnez (Wiki Link).

Scholars have argued endlessly regarding the purpose of this law. I am afraid that my Jewish brethren as a whole never seem to learn the lessons taught in either Shaatnez, or the Kosher laws. They often keep the form, but they missed the lesson.

The lesson is that there is opposition in all things, or there are opposing forces in our existence, holy and profane, good and bad, light and dark, and life and death. We exist at the point where these oppositions intersect. How these opposing forces are ultimately reconciled is the lesson.

Messiah is the lesson of Shaatnez, Kosher, the Law of Moses, and Book of Mormon chiasmas’.

After a discourse on Messiah being the intercessor for all men, Lehi taught Jacob that things exist by opposition, and that things are reconciled by Messiah.

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.

And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” (LINK)

8 comments:

Steve said...

As a descendant of the tribe of Aaron, I endeavor to learn the truth. What follows is not the truth, but merely my attempt to engage in conversation that honors the truth as a path.

Shaatnez is one of those unusual things where the truth may come to be known because of its mysterious beginnings and because there is a dearth of handed down explanations.

First, let me say that your writing on this subject makes sense to me as a kind of higher truth, that is to say, your interpretation uses shaatnez to tell a great truth. That higher truth can be taught by any example, and while linen and wool are not opposites, they are different enough to make the point. That point seems to be that insofar as matters of great importance to the human condition, namely matters which find existence in the language of man such as justice and grace, such matters, by there very nature, can exist by virtue of that which is NOT. (to make the distinction, justice and grace are of one category whereas things such as trees and dirt and water are of another, as the latter find existence independent of the language of man).

Another path to the truth is to first examine what is so. (The answer in the old testament to Moses when he asks of God, "Who shall I say sent me?" is properly translated to modern English, as something akin to "What is so".)

What is so about shaatnez is that it is handed down for over 2,500 years amongst the people of Israel and there is not an explanation of how it came to be. It would therefore be useful to find out if there are other indications of such a practice.

It turns out that ancient egyptians who were considered part of the king's house or part of the "priestly" group kept to a practice of not mixing wool and linen. Have you come across this correlation in your study?

David Littlefield said...

Steve:

Thanks for the comments.

I believe the teaching of Shaatnez came to be as an outgrowth of the teaching of “opposition in all things” that was held by ancient Israel. The opposition in all things is central to Jewish Mysticism and Temple teachings.

It would not be surprising to find that Egyptians has a simular teaching, not that Israelites borrowed that teaching, but that Egypt was interwolven with the blood of Shem, Abraham, and Israel (the Hyksos, Temple at , Abraham, Jacob, Moses). But I would propose that the underlying teaching is of the most ancient of origins.

-David

Joshua said...

I am an orthodox Jew who stumbled onto your blog via a google search. As someone who practices shatnez, namely, I avoid such garments, I find your explanation nebulous and lacking.
There are many objects that connote opposites, but wool and linen are not among them. There is not a Torah source anywhere in the Old Testament that indicates a 'power of opposite' to the fabrics. Such an idea is frankly in my eyes, just your projection of your personal concept of a higher truth in opposites. The same claim could be made the prohibition of not mixing milk and meat, separating the holy and profane through the sabbath, and onward further.

Shatnez is in the category of inscrutable commandments, much like the red heifer, and any attempt at a complete explanation of its purpose will fall remarkably short. This is especially likely in the face of the clear torah commandment for the Kohanim, the priestly class, to wear clothes with mixed fibers as they performed the Temple service. I fail to see the logical exposition of your 'opposition to all things' theory when said garb is present in such a significant Jewish ritual.

If you are indeed a true scholar, or mystic, I would hope you have more solid evidence to anchor your theories to. In the Jewish rabbinical and intellectual tradition, such an approach would be cast, and likely jocularly called an 'ignorant's explanation.'

David Littlefield said...

Joshua:

Thank you for visiting, I hope you come back often.

I am sorry if my post has offended you. I think that if you take my blog an the whole you will see I have only kind feelings towards Jews. I am studying Hebrew, and the Jewish culture. I love the Jewish people, and their rich history.

I am not a scholar, and I am not a mystic by the meaning of the popular usage of the term. I am not trying to force something on anyone by waiving a diploma around. What I have written stands of falls on its own merits.

Now, with apologies and niceties aside, please allow me to show you enough respect to speak frankly regarding some of your points.

I don’t expect you to accept all my points, otherwise you would be LDS and not a Jew.

In an effort to show that shatnez was not a display of opposites you said: “The same claim could be made the prohibition of not mixing milk and meat, separating the holy and profane through the sabbath, and onward further.”

But as I said in the original post, I believe the Messiah (Tiferet of the Tree of Life) to be what reconciles these opposing (life & death, dark & light) forces, that is the very point of what I have said.

You said: “and any attempt at a complete explanation of its purpose will fall remarkably short”

I suggest that I have given you an answer, but you have taken refuge in a protective shelter of unchangeable ignorance.

You said: “[T}he Kohanim, the priestly class, to wear clothes with mixed fibers as they performed the Temple service. I fail to see the logical exposition of your 'opposition to all things' theory when said garb is present in such a significant Jewish ritual.”

I would suggest that when the High Priest stood in the Holy of Holies, he stood their representing the one who reconciled all things, so the fact that emblems of those opposing forces are present upon the priest is not surprising.

Is “Mercy” (HESED) precluded from the presence of God?

Is “Law” or “Justice” (HOD or GEVURAH) banished from the presence of God?

No, they are opposing forces, present before God, reconciled by Tiferet, who I accept as Messiah.

-David

Anonymous said...

A scholary decleration of ignorance, The Jews rejected their King, Their eyes are closed their ears are shut. God's Choosen have rejected Messiah, and the Prophets they have stoned, No more do the heavens speak and a Prophet they have not. Lost in words and Laws, and God they do not Have, This People turned away and Have become as dead mans Bones.
Emanu-el El-iza-beth Josh-u-a Jesse
Wool or Linen matter Little Where is El-iza-Beth
Who broke the Promise ? God or the Jews?

Anonymous said...

Bullshaat!

Anonymous said...

Bullshaat!

Anonymous said...

Bullshaat!