תשע”ט פ’ קדושים
Volume 28, Issue 9
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
Parshat Kedoshim is situated in the middle of the Five Books of Moshe. Its solemn call to sanctify our lives represents the climax of Torah legislation. Coming at the crowning summit of this structure, Parshat Kedoshim appears as a beacon which sends rays of the holiness-ideal over the whole panorama of human existence. This ideal of holiness is not based on the norms of common sense or rational behavior. Instead, it is a unique concept inherent in Creation – a concept that was specifically assigned to the people of Israel as an end in itself.
They are to be a holy nation because that is the will of G-d. The division between holy and non-holy was created by G-d – “Hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol” – Who distinguishes between holy and ordinary. It is He Who created the separation between light and darkness, between Israel and the other nations, between the seventh day and the six days of work. The distinction is permanent and unchangeable. Attempting to go beyond it would be akin to trying to change the roles of light and darkness. (R’ Munk)
דבר אל כל עדת בני ישראל
“Speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel…” (19:2)
Why does the verse say “speak to the entire assembly…”, using the word עדה? I would like to suggest that it does so because kedushah can be acquired in no other way than through da’at – wisdom – דעת. What this means is that only by having a knowledge of the truth and content of the mitzvah can one achieve becoming a kadosh with regard to that mitzvah. The word “eidah” is used because it is related to the words de’ah and da’at.
And perhaps this is also why Rashi states that that Adas Yisrael in the context of Vayikra 4:13 refers to the Sanhedrin. Why? Because what is the Sanhedrin if not those with the highest level of da’at and the ones who are most urgently charged to employ the methods of da’at.
Let’s take this even a step further and suggest another twin meaning: שקד/קדש. Pirkei Avot 2:19 says, רבי אליעזר אומר הוי שקוד ללמוד תורה, R’ Eliezer says that one must strive to be totally immersed and uninterrupted, in the way one learns Torah. So too with one’s attitude toward mitzvot, one must always be ready, always available. In other words – קדוש. (R’ Nison Alpert)
“Do not pervert justice…” (19:15)
Everyone is apt to commit something wrong at some time during his life, “For there is no righteous man on earth who does good and does not sin.” (Kohelet 7:20) But there is hope; for wrong can be remedied by remorse, repentance and good deeds. All hope is lost, however, when people deny ever having committed an injustice, finding ingenious excuses to justify their nefarious acts and try to prove to themselves and to the world what they did was fair and equitable.
That is the intent of the abovementioned verse: “Do not pervert justice.” The Hebrew word “bamishpat” – justice, may also be translated as, “with justice.” One must not drape one’s evil acts with a cloak of justice. (Iturei Torah)
לא תלך רחיל בעמיך
“Do not go around as a talebearer among your people…” (19:16)
Rashi comments that the verse refers to gossipers as holchei rachil, “people who go around spying,” because all those who indulge in evil talk constantly search for any piece of gossip to relate in the streets. Indeed, the very word rachil, gossiper, is derived from the word ragil, or meragel, spy. Since all Hebrew letters which are pronounced from the same position in the mouth are related, they may be interchanged with each other. Therefore, the gimmel of the word ragil may be interchanged with a chaf to make the word rachil.
However, why did the Torah find it necessary to interchange the gimmel of ragil with a chaf in the first place? The Torah wishes to make us aware that, just as often as the letters are altered, a gossiper will often alter the story, exaggerating and bending the truth. The Chafetz Chaim (Hilchot Lashon Hara 7:3) points out that a person who is suspected of tale-bearing is apt to tell lies, falsify and exaggerate. (Torah Treasures)
הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך
“You must admonish your neighbor…” (19:17)
On the subject of reproof we find an illuminating pasuk in Mishlei (9:8): “Do not admonish a scoffer, lest he hate you. Admonish a wise man, and he will love you.” A novel interpretation of this verse elicits an important psychological insight into reproof. When you want to admonish a person, do not admonish him by calling him a fool, outcast, a good-for-nothing. For if you do, he will hate you and your admonition will fall on deaf ears. Rather, tell him that he is an intelligent fellow; a pillar of society such as him should not act like this. And he will love you and heed your admonition. (Shelah haKodesh)