#MondayMishnah Brachot 2:6

Thanks for joining me for #MondayMishnah!

Each week, we learn one Mishnah from the Tractate (Masechet) Brachot. The Mishnah is one of the earliest compilations of Rabbinic text and is the foundation to understanding Rabbinic Judaism.


The Text: Mishnah Brachot 2:6

[Rabban Gamliel] washed on the first night after his wife died. His students said to him: Didn’t you teach us, our teacher, that a mourner is forbidden to wash? He said to them: I am not like other people. I am delicate.

It’s my belief that the Jewish tradition provides a road map on how we can be the best human beings that we can be. It’s in light of that, that I want to learn today’s Mishnah.

I wanna read it and study it in light of last week as well. Last week we learned, as a brief review, that we are not required to recite the Shema on our wedding night. (We got other things going on, obviously). And so we learned that Rabban Gamliel, did recite the Shema on his wedding night, therefore “breaking” the rule. So his students, reasonably asked: wait, you told us one thing and you did the opposite! What’s the deal?! We learn that he needed to be strict with himself.

Similarly this week, we find that he “broke” the rule once again. The tradition teaches that we do not take a shower or wash ourselves after a funeral of a loved one. Due to the fact that we should be focusing not on our appearance, but on our emotional mourning process, like human beings do after a death. And so we find that Rabban Gamliel did take a shower, wash himself after the funeral of his wife, and so the students ask him: What’s going on here?!

He said something, I think, is so important. He says: yes, but I am delicate.

This teaches us two important things: 1. how valuable it is to be vulnerable. For him to be able to say, “yeah that’s the rule, but I needed something else.” 2. that it is important for us to be self aware.

To know what we need and when we need. So yes, the rule was that one, doesn’t shower after a funeral, but Rabban Gamliel knew himself. He knew what he needed, in order to be at his highest potential, to be able to be present, in this case after a funeral.

And so we should ask ourselves that question, as well.

When do we need to be strict? 
When do we need to be lenient? 
What do we need to reach our potential? 
What boundaries do we need to put on ourselves?
What boundaries do we need to remove?

…so that we can be the best people that we can be. The most present and the most engaged possible.

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