We were previously taught in the Mishna (Chagigah 3:2) that ‘with regard to teruma (priestly food), if one of one’s hands became impure [through contact with a source of spiritual impurity prohibited by rabbinic law thereby only rendering the hands impure], its counterpart (i.e. the other hand) remains pure [even if the hand that had been in direct contact with impurity was in direct contact their other hand e.g. the clasped their hands together]. But with regard to kodesh (sacrificial food), both [hands] must be immersed [if the hand that had been in direct contact with impurity touched their other hand e.g. they clasped their hands together]. This is because one hand renders its counterpart impure with regard to sacrificial food but not with regard to teruma.’
Reflecting on this rule, today’s daf (Chagigah 24b) discusses whether, when we say that ‘one hand renders its counterpart impure’ in a case involving kodesh (sacrificial food), does this apply only in situations where the person who has been in direct contact with impurity with one hand touches their other hand (e.g. they clasped their hands together), or does it also apply if they make direct contact with the hand of someone else (eg. they shake the hand of a friend)? The answer given in the Gemara is that applies both when the two hands of one person touch, as well as when the hand of one person touches that of another.
Considering the lesson that we can draw from this Gemara for our time, there can be ideas or news that we hear, or situations or images that we see, which stay with us but do not affect the totality of us. Then there can be ideas or news that we hear, or situations or images that we see, that affect the totality of us but that do not directly affect those with whom we are in contact. And then there can be ideas or news that we hear, or situations or images that we see, that – through the contact we have with others – affect them as well.
Fundamentally, we are affected – and we can affect others – by what we are in contact with, and as such we should be careful when considering what we choose to hear and see. At the same time, it is also important to remember that we too can be a source of positive or negative energy – and that our energy directly affects ourselves and those we are in contact with.
So as we start a new week, let us strive to be a source of positive energy for ourselves and others, while doing what we can to be a conduit to help ourselves and others remove the negativity that we are carrying in our lives.