Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm wondering if anyone has ever put together a book that lists all the different elements that can come up in the realms of Kodshim and Taharot (e.g. bulls, the number seven, water, slaughtering, etc.) along with traditional explanations for what they each may symbolize.

I realize that the idea that these elements are meant to symbolize anything, as opposed to simply being elements of God's Commandments, which we obey without worrying about their meanings, is not a universally-held opinion. However, there are those who do discuss symbolic meanings in these practices, so the book I'm wondering about would be based on their teachings. For example, R' Hirsch's commentary on the Torah makes repeated and consistent reference to many such symbolic elements.

It seems to me that such a book could be very useful when studying these areas in particular. People tend to treat them as rather esoteric, partly because they're mostly not in practice currently, and partly because they deal with essentially spiritual causes and effects that aren't obviously connected to natural phenomena that we're familiar with. With the sort of dictionary that I describe at one's side, one could analyze a complicated procedure, or even a hypothetical complicated procedure in the Talmudic debates, in part by breaking it down into its constituent elements and analyzing what each one is taken to symbolize.

share|improve this question
1  
Looks like you've got your next big project lined up. –  Seth J Jan 13 '12 at 19:16
1  
@SethJ, It's actually already on my list of books to write, when I have time to write books. :) (That is, unless it exists already.) –  Isaac Moses Jan 13 '12 at 19:42
    
@IsaacMoses I've always wanted this as well. I was never able to find anything, but I was told such books exist. Lacking such a book I've pieced together many of the things myself. –  avi Jan 16 '12 at 9:43
    
Also, I will add that you should/will? find two types of dictionaries. One which is heavily influenced by the Zohar, and one which is something that even the uneducated members of Israel would be able to recognize. –  avi Jan 16 '12 at 9:45
    
Part of the reason for these two types of dictionaries is that even the zoharic symobls would themselves be symbols for other things. –  avi Jan 16 '12 at 9:55
show 3 more comments

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.