After explaining that the ultimate intent of tefillah (prayer) is to cause the Almighty’s divine light to shine upon the earth and thereby repair it in through the establishment of His Kingship (see this post), Nefesh haChayim (Gate II, Ch. 11) goes on to explain what prayer ought not to be:

Though the Talmud (Sandhedrin 8A) teaches that an individual may insert their own words into their prayer concerning their personal needs and troubles, within the blessing related to that particular matter, even in doing so, one’s ultimate intent should not be to address one’s own trouble [rather to increase the glory of the Almighty by removing this evil], and this is not the proper path for those who are upright in their hearts.

In Yesterday’s post I shared from Nefesh haChayim the reason our bodies produce physical waste, that is, that most foods have a component that nourishes the spirit, and elements that do not. The body absorbs that which nourishes and excretes the rest. As a result, the generation that ate manna in the desert did not “go to the bathroom” since the manna from heaven was all nourishing.

Nefesh haChayim goes on to explain the connection between this concept and the worship of the idol known as Baal Peor. According to our traditional sources, Baal Peor was worship by performing one’s bathroom functions onto the idol. What is the reason for this bizarre (and disgusting) practice? How could this be a form of worship?

According to the above, however, the answer is understandable. The physical waste of the body represents everything that is completely of this physical world with no spiritual connection, no connection to the soul. Those who worshipped Baal Peor engaged in the most extreme form of hedonism, indulging the body only, with no limitations of the soul, no connection to God, no obeisance to a Higher Power. That is why those who worshipped Baal Peor (the daughters of Midyan) engaged in immoral sexuality and seduced the Israelites to do the same. They worshipped only the physical, with no spiritual component. So their form of worship involved the act revolving around that substance that has no spiritual component — excrement.

Nefesh haChayim, by Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin זצ”ל, the principle disciple of the Vilna Gaon זצ”ל, states as follows:

Food for the body, if it is not good, and not acceptable to the body, does not sustain the body, but rather becomes waste and filth and excrement inside the body, and also weakens and tires the entire body, for because of this bad food, the energy of the spirit does not spread through the body properly, and sometimes the body becomes ill as a result. So too the actions that are not good or desirable, God forbid, become like the waste and filth of the spiritual worlds, strengthening the impure forces and kelipoth (‘coverings,’ like darkness shrouding spiritual light and goodness) — may the Merciful One save us from this.

Footnote 27 of the edition published by Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rubin ז”ל (the footnotes were written by him) adds:

Everything a man eats contains sustenance from above… Once the body is sustained by the life-giving elements of the food, the remainder which contains no sustenance at all is purged from the body. Therefore, the Generation of the Desert, who ate the manna, did not excrete any waste, for the manna could be completely metabolized with no leftover waste. But other foods, after the life-giving part is separated out to sustain the man, the waste is excreted devoid of any sustenance.

Midrash Eleh Ezkerah is a dramatized narrative describing (with poetic license) the tragic executions of ten of Israel’s greatest sages at the hands of the Romans. The story depicts these ten as having lived contemporaneously and having been executed more or less in the same time and place, though this was not actually the case.

Nevertheless, in this work, the body of the sage Rabbi Akiva is carried by Elijah the Prophet. Elijah meets Rabbi Yehoshua haGarsi, who asks Elijah how he could carry Akiva’s dead body when Elijah is a Kohen, and a Kohen is forbidden to come into contact with a dead body, lest he become tamei — spiritually contaminated. Elijah replies, “The bodies of the righteous do not render spiritual contamination.”

It appears that the author of this narrative was of the opinion that Elijah was a Kohen, and therefore would line up with the opinion that Elijah was in fact Pinchas.

The following is my best attempt to preserve the poetic nature of Hannah’s Song in I Samuel 2, by rendering it into English in rhyme, incorporating classic commentaries to elucidate its meaning.

I’m no Shakespeare, but I enjoyed the challenge of this undertaking, and I feel it makes this rendering more interesting and enjoyable to read than a direct translation. The original text is in I Samuel, Ch. 2, v. 1-10:

(1) I feel happy in my heart,

HaShem offered me a new start,

Now I may lift my head high,

HaShem is the reason why.

Penina spoke meanly to me,

For I had no children, you see,

But now I am very happy,

From Penina Hashem saved me,

For I can now open my mouth,

My son I can now speak about,

I am happy that I have a son,

I give thanks to the Holy One.

(2) There is none holy as You, Hashem,

There is no other that is like Him,

Like our God there is no other,

Forming a child inside a mother.

(3) Do not speak so arrogantly,

Penina, my rival, who was mean to me,

Do not allow the wrong kind of words

From your mouth to come out and be heard,

For what’s in your heart HaShem does know,

He counts all your deeds and the places you go.

(4) The bow of the mighty HaShem will break,

Giving strength to the stumbling and weak ones who ache.

Those who are hungry, HaShem will sate,

While for the full-bellied, hunger is their fate.

(5) Those who were once full of bread,

Will have to work to eat instead,

While those who worked to feed their hunger,

Will have so much food they’ll work no longer.

The one who had no children will give birth to seven sons,

While she with many children will mourn every one.

(6) HaShem takes life and HaShem gives it,

Raising up or lowering into the pit.

(7) HaShem makes people poor or rich,

HaShem lowers and HaShem lifts.

(8) HaShem in whom we trust,

Raises the poor from the dust,

From heaps of trash He will raise them up,

To seat them with the rich to sup,

A seat of honor shall be theirs,

With them His Glory He will share,

For the pillars of the earth belong to HaShem,

And man’s dwelling place He lays upon them.

(9) The feet of the pious HaShem will guard,

By no entrapment shall they be marred.

But the wicked in darkness will meet their end,

For a man succeeds not by the strength of his hand.

(10) HaShem will break His foes,

Even if to the heavens they rose,

From heaven upon them He blows,

Casting them down below.

HaShem will bring about justice for all,

He will give His King the strength to stand tall,

Hashem will give strength to the king He has appointed,

Increasing the kingdom of the one He has anointed.

Once again I offer a new, narrative presentation of the 3rd chapter of the book of Jeremiah, incorporating classic commentaries into the text. The color coding is as follows: 

Rashi

Targum

Radak

Metzudah

My own words (for clarity)

Please enjoy, comment and share. And without further ado:

Jeremiah continued speaking in the name of HaShem. (1) “I could say you are no longer worthy of me, for if a man sends away his wife, and she goes from him and becomes the wife of another man, will the first husband return to her again? Behold, the land would surely be corrupted by such an act! And you have been unfaithful with many lovers! Nevertheless, return to Me! (2) Lift up your eyes upon the high places and see! Where have you not lied down? Upon the ways you have sat, ready for your lovers, like an Arab in the wilderness, and you have corrupted the land with your unfaithfulness and your evil. (3) The early rains have been held back, and the latter rains did not occur, yet you have had the brazenness of an unfaithful woman, you have refused to be ashamed. (4) If only from this moment you would repent of your wickedness and call to Me, ‘My Father, You are the Teacher of my youth!’ (5) Would your Lord bear against you forever that which you sinned toward Him? Would He hold onto it for eternity? He would not hold onto it! Behold, you have declared, ‘We will not come to You again,’ and that evil you will perform, paying no mind to repentance, and you will succeed in rebelling absolutely.

(6) In the days of King Josiah, HaShem commanded Jeremiah to bring back the Ten Tribes of Israel. A portion of them returned in the 18th year of Josiah (Rashi, v. 12). HaShem said to Jeremiah, “Did you see what the wayward Ten Tribes of Israel did? They would go up on every high mountain, and under every fresh tree and act unfaithfully to Me there, serving idols. (7) And I said through My prophets Amos and Hoshea son of Be’eri and others, after she (Israel) had done all this, ‘Return to Me!’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw that Israel was exiled, but Judah did not learn their lesson. (8) And I saw that Judah saw everything that happened because wayward Israel was unfaithful, that I sent Israel away, and I gave to Israel her document of divorce, but treacherous Judah, Israel’s sister, did not fear that I would send her away also, and did not consider repentance, rather, Judah went and acted unfaithfully also. (9) Because her unfaithfulness was light in her eyes, the land became corrupt; in her unfaithfulness she served stone and wood. (10) And even with all this, having seen the downfall and punishment of Israel, her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, rather falsely.” The generation of Josiah showed themselves to be righteous while they were actually wicked. They made images of idols on the insides of their doorways, half on one side and half on the other, so that when those seeking to eliminate idolatry would inspect the homes, the door would be open and the images were not recognizable.

(11) HaShem said to Jeremiah, “Wayward Israel has exonerated herself of judgment, for she did not have from whom to learn, as opposed to treacherous Judah. (12) Go and call out these words to the north, to the places where Israel was exiled, to Assyria, and say, ‘Return O Wayward Israel! I will not send my wrath against you, because I am abundant in kindness. I will not hold your sins against you forever. (See v. 6 above.) (13) But know your sin, for you rebelled against HaShem your God, and you were unfaithful to HaShem, spreading your legs for strangers under every fresh tree, and you did not listen to My voice. (14) Return, O rebellious sons! For I have been your master, and you have therefore been called by My name, and for you to remain among the nations takes away from My honor. Therefore, I will take you out of exile, even though you remain one in a city of gentiles, or two among an entire gentile nation, and I will bring you to Zion. (15) I will give you leaders who perform My will, and they will lead you with knowledge and wisdom. (16) And it will be, when you multiply and increase in the land in those days, they will no longer say, ‘The Ark of the Covenant of HaShem,’ nor will it even be a thought, nor will they remember it, nor will they consider it, nor will that be done with it which was done in Shiloh, when the Ark was brought out to war against the Philistines in the days of Eili the High Priest, for whole congregation will be holy, and I will dwell in the congregation as though it is the Ark. (17) At that time they will call Jerusalem the Throne of HaShem, and all the nations will gather to it for the sake of HaShem’s name, to Jerusalem, and they will not go anymore after the thoughts of their wicked heart. (18) In those days, the House of Judah will walk with the House of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to their forefathers, becoming one kingdom.

(19) “I had thought, ‘How can I place you, My daughter, My congregation and My nation, among sons, among other nations, among idol worshippers?’ Therefore I set aside a better portion for you, giving you a desirable land, a portion that is the envy of the host of nations, and I said, ‘Call me Father, and do not turn away from Me.’ (20) However, you did not do as I wished, rather like a woman who betrays her beloved because he is unable to provide her needs, so you betrayed Me, O House of Israel, though I provide you with every good thing. (21) Over the rise, in the near future, the sound of the begging cries of the Children of Israel can be heard, for they have perverted their ways, they have forgotten HaShem their God. (22) Return O rebellious sons! I will forgive your rebellion!’”

Yirmiyahu then instructed the people to confess to HaShem and say, “Behold, we have come to You, for you are HaShem our God! (23) Indeed, for naught we hoped for salvation from false gods that we worshipped upon hills and in multitudes upon mountains! Indeed, by HaShem our God is the salvation of Israel! (24) Because of our shame, that we worshipped false gods, the toil of our fathers has been consumed from our youth, their sheep and their cattle, their sons and their daughters. (25) We will lie down in shame because of our sins, and our degradation will cover us, for we and our fathers have sinned to HaShem our God from our youth until this day, and we did not listen to the voice of HaShem our God.”

One of the challenges often posed to the Biblical account of Noah’s Ark is that carnivorous animals could not survive without eating meat, and presumably the other animals on the Ark were off limits least an entire species (or “kind”) of animal get wiped out.

However, there is evidence for some carnivorous animals that we know of today that under certain circumstances, a vegetarian diet will suffice.

An example I just found is the spider, as written in this recent article from a non-Creationist science website, Sparkonit:

“​Spiders occasionally prey on small vertebrates such frogs, lizards, snakes, fish, birds, and bats and sometimes even feed on plants.” 
That is all.