Monday, September 15, 2014

The connotation of the word "cherem"


Note: The word cherem is popularly used to refer to a decree of ex-communication, but among its original uses is a term for dedicating one's property to the Beit haMikdash [Temple]. In the following passage, we see that such an act of dedication might be viewed as a negative.

"All consecration includes two aspects: A negative aspect, in which one renounces mundane benefit, and a positive aspect, in which one delivers the consecrated item to a sacred purpose. 

"In normal consecration, the positive aspect of delivering the item to a sacred purpose is the main action, and the negative aspect of renouncing mundane benefit is only a byproduct. In an act of cherem, though, the negative aspect of renouncing mundane benefit is the primary goal, and the positive sanctification is only a byproduct of that renunciation."

(Commentary of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch to Vayikra 27:28)

Have a great day,

1 comment:

  1. Interestingly, the Arabic cognate "haram" means sinful, and is used in discussion of sharia the way we would say "assur" (prohibited). But it also refers to a holy site or sanctuary; they call the Temple Mount "Haram as-Sharif" - the Noble Sanctuary.

    Things that sharia permits (below both obligatory and recommended acts) are "halal", which in halakhah would be mutar or kasher. But is cognate to the Hebrew "chol" (secular).