Torah Portion: Shemini
“וזה לכם הטמא בשרץ השורץ על הארץ, החולד והעכבר…” (ויקרא יא כט-ל)
It is a positive commandment that the Eight Teeming Animals (shemoneh sheratzim) written in the Torah shall be tamei (spiritually contaminated) and shall spiritually contaminate other items, as it is written, These are the contaminated ones among the teeming animals that teem upon the earth: the choled, the achbar, and the tzav etc. (Vayikra 11:29-30).
When discussing the roots of this mitzvah, it is necessary to note this: Without doubt, there was never a human being who completely fathomed wisdom to its end. Even our master, Moshe, possessed only forty-nine of the “fifty gates of wisdom,” as our Sages taught. And king Shlomo said about himself: I thought I could become wise, but it is beyond me (Koheles 7:23). It is also clear, beyond doubt, that Hashem is the Source of Wisdom and that whatever He commands us is only for our good. Therefore, whenever we can grasp with our wisdom the benefit of certain commandments, we are happy with [our insight]. But when we cannot grasp their benefit with our wisdom, we must understand that with Hashem’s superior wisdom, He knows that benefit of that mitzvah for us, and that is why he commanded us about it.
This mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, to both men and women.