The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 8 May 2010 / 23 Iyyar 5770

The Pareve Office and Pareve Food

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Although the term pareve to us means a neutral food matter which is neither meat nor milk, the term originates from the name of one of the offices in the Beit Hamikdash.

Different explanations are offered by our commentaries for this unusual name. In his commentary the Bartenura writes that this office was built through magic by a magician named Pareve and therefore bore his name. Rambam's explanation is that Pareve was a curious magician who tunneled his way into the Holy of Holies to observe the service of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur and was slain for this violation, and the scene of his crime was named for him to discourage others from doing the same.

There is a popular assumption that because this office was in a holy area but not really sanctified as its neighboring vicinity, but rather used for salting the skins of sacrificed animals, its name connotes something of being in-between.

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