Page:Guideforperplexed.djvu/442

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because of the domestic animals used as food these alone are permitted to us, and in these cases the mother recognises her young.

The same reason applies to the law which enjoins that we should let the mother fly away when we take the young. The eggs over which the bird sits, and the young that are in need of their mother, are generally unfit for food, and when the mother is sent away she does not see the taking of her young ones, and does not feel any pain. In most cases, however, this commandment will cause man to leave the whole nest untouched, because [the young or the eggs], which he is allowed to take, are, as a rule, unfit for food. If the Law provides that such grief should not be caused to cattle or birds, how much more careful must we be that we should not cause grief to our fellowmen. When in the Talmud (Ber. p. 33b) those are blamed who use in their prayer the phrase, "Thy mercy extendeth to young birds," it is the expression of the one of the two opinions mentioned by us, namely, that the precepts of the Law have no other reason but the Divine will. We follow the other opinion.

The reason why we cover the blood when we kill animals, and why we do it only when we kill clean beasts and clean birds, has already been explained by us (supra, chap. xlvi., p. 362).

In addition to the things prohibited by the Law, we are also commanded to observe the prohibitions enjoined by our own vows (Num. xxx.). If we say, This bread or this meat is forbidden for us, we are not allowed to partake of that food. The object of that precept is to train us in temperance, that we should be able to control our appetites for eating and drinking. Our Sages say accordingly, "Vows are a fence for abstinence." As women are easily provoked to anger, owing to their greater excitability and the weakness of their mind, their oaths, if entirely under their own control, would cause great grief, quarrel, and disorder in the family; one kind of food would be allowed for the husband, and forbidden for the wife; another kind forbidden for the daughter, and allowed for the mother. Therefore the Law gives the father of the family control over the vows of those dependent on him. A woman that is independent, and not under the authority of a chief of the family, is, as regards vows, subject to the same laws as men; I mean a woman that has no husband, or that has no father, or that is of age, i.e., twelve years and six months.

The object of Nazaritism (Num. vi.) is obvious. It keeps away from wine that has ruined people in ardent and modern times. "Many strong men have been slain by it" (Prov. xxvii. 26). "But they also have erred through wine. . . . the priest and the prophet" (Isa. xxviii. 7). In the law about the Nazarite we notice even the prohibition, "he shall eat nothing that is made of the vine tree" (Num. vi. 4), as an additional precaution, implying the lesson that man must take of wine only as much as is absolutely necessary. For he who abstains from drinking it is called "holy"; his sanctity is made equal to that of the high-priest, in not being allowed to defile himself even to his father, to his mother, and the like. This honour is given him because he abstains from wine.

CHAPTER XLIX

THE precepts of the fourteenth class are those which we enumerated in the Section on Women, the Laws concerning forbidden sexual intercourse, and cross-