sacred deed

They asked Hillel the Elder (first century B.C.E.): “Where are you going?”

He replied: “I am going to perform a sacred deed.”

They asked: “And what is this sacred deed of Hillel?”

He said: “T am going to the House of the Chair (i.e., the toilet).”

They asked: “But is that a sacred thing to do?”

He said: “Yes indeed, for by so doing one prevents the body from deteriorating.”

Another time they asked him: “Where are you going?”

He replied: “I am going to perform a sacred deed.”

They asked: “And what is the sacred deed of Hillel this time.?”

He replied: “I am going to the bath house.”

They asked: “Is that a sacred thing to do?”

He said: “Yes indeed, for by so doing one cleanses the body. Know that the statues of Caesar that are erected in the arenas are but facsimiles of the Image of God, yet the Romans wash them daily. If that which is but a facsimile of the divine image is deserving of such honors, so much more so is the body, which was actually created in the Image of God.”

——- Babylonian Talmud, Avot D’Rebbe Natan [version 2], end of Ch. 30

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Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 12:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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