Thursday, January 11, 2007

Johnny Appleseed and keeping your feet on the ground

The halacha is that a kohein working in the mikdash must stand barefoot with both feet on the floor, in direct contact with the ground. I have heard chassidishe torah about our standing barefoot on yom kippur as also being related to this idea of bringing ourselves in direct contact with the earth (sorry, I forget source and details and don't have time to look it up right now).

In describing John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, Michael Pollan writes in "The Botany of Desire", p. 28:
Curiously, a great many stories about Chapman have to do with his feet: how he'd go barefoot in any weather, the time he punished his foot for stepping on a worm (or in some versions a snake). He would entertain boys by pressing needles or hot coals into the soles of his feet, which had grown horny and tough as an elephant's...The recurring barefoot theme underscores the sense people had that Chapman's relationship to nature was special - and not quite human. The soles of our shoes interspose a protective barrier between us and the earth that Chapman had no use for; if shoes are part and parcel of civilized life, Chapman had one foor planted in another realm...


  1. Anonymous1:31 PM

    Most obvious parallel I can think of its Moshe before the Burning Bush.

    But since I'm not at home and have no books handy, I can't say anything more than that bare suggestion.

  2. I could kick myself for forgetting that example, especially since it is parshas hashavua!

  3. Anonymous9:57 PM

    BAREFOOT TORAH is because when we Put on shoes which is made out of animal skin we show we are on top of the food chain the word was created for us but when cohanim in the beis hamikdash and us on yom kippur we dont show are gedulah over them that is hashem teritory so we take off our shoes this is one of the perushim on chalipin

  4. Anonymous8:55 AM

    IIRC it's in the Chafetz Chayim al Ha'Torah in Parashas Shemos. He writes that the messsage of "shal ne'alecha mei'al ragelcha ki ha'makom...admas kodesh hu" means that a person must remove all obstructions between him and kedusha. People are often afraid or intitmidated and don't want to experience holiness directly; the message of "shal ne'alecha" is to be prepared to do what it takes to come in direct contact with spirituality. Or something like that. Ayein sham.

  5. Anonymous6:54 PM

    Annomous is the gra i think,I heard it was because shoes carry your whole Guf. Your body is limited by your feet in that your whole body is in it,so we take it off to no bee under it control we should star a Kuntres of tirutzim.