פ’ אחרי מות קדושים – תשע”ה
Volume 8, Issue 7
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, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
דבר אל בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם אני ה’ אלקיכם כמעשה ארץ מצרים אשר ישבתם בה לא תעשו וכמעשה ארץ כנען אשר אני מביא אתכם שמה לא תעשו ובחקתיהם לא תלכו
“Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: I am Hashem your G-d. Do not perform the practices of the land of Egypt in which you dwelled; and do not perform the practices of the land of Caanan to which I am bringing you, and do not follow their statutes.” (18:2-3)
Prior to prohibiting the following of other nations’ practices, Hashem commanded Moshe to tell the nation, “I am Hashem your G-d.” Regardless of a man’s confidence in his ability to withstand surrounding influences, he will not prevail in his efforts, for by nature man follows his worldly desires. The Torah declares that the only way to withstand the lures of society is through the recognition that “I am Hashem your G-d.” Only through strong emunah can one withstand the pull of society.
Yet in achieving this goal we are further warned, “Do not follow their statutes”; even those secular laws which appear to be in line with Torah ethics remain but the handiwork of human beings. They are coarse and limited to human intellect, sometimes even a means to legalize lusts and desires. The only way for a Jew to remain within the boundaries of Torah is through learning Torah and its accompanying observance. (Pirkei Torah – R’ Gifter)
את משפטי תעשו ואת חקתי תשמרו ללכת בהם אני ה’ אלקיכם
“My ordinances you shall do, and My statutes you shall observe, to walk with them, I am the L-rd, your G-d.” (18:4)
The Ksav Sofer commented on the words, “to walk with them”, that a person needs to walk from one level to the next level. That is, a person should constantly strive to grow and elevate himself. It is not enough to remain on the same level that one was on the previous day. Rather, each day should be a climb higher than the day before. When difficult tests come your way, you might not always appreciate them. But the only way to ensure growth is to continually pass more and more of life’s difficult tests. View every difficulty as a means of elevating oneself by applying the appropriate Torah principles. At the end of each day, ask yourself, “What did I do today to elevate myself a little higher?” If no answer is readily evident, ask instead, “What can I plan to do tomorrow to elevate myself?” (Growth Through Torah)
ושמרתם את חקתי ואת משפטי אשר יעשה אתם אדם וחי בהם אני ה’
“Keep My decrees and My laws which man shall carry out and by which he shall live, I am Hashem.” (18:5)
The word אתם – you, has the same letters as the word אמת – truth. Whoever will make truth the fundamental basis of life, speaking truth, acknowledging the truth, and conducting oneself in a truthful manner, וחי בהם, will earn a merit for long life.
The statement אני ה’, I am Hashem, is placed right before the list of immoral and forbidden practices, to tell us that these prohibitions do not run contrary to human nature, and therefore, are not too difficult to observe. Hashem tells us that it is He who created us and He knows our nature and what we are capable of. He assures us that we can refrain from these practices without harm to our bodies and if we keep these laws and decrees, we will live by them. (Torah Gems)
“You shall be holy.” (19:2)
Parshat Kedoshim is connected to the previous Parshat Acharei Mot, where Bnei Yisrael were warned not to imitate the acts of the Egyptians and Canaanites. The Torah now emphasizes that it is not enough to stay away from evil, but one must strive to reach the heights of sanctity and purity by doing mitzvot and good deeds at all times. It is no coincidence that this parsha contains 51 total mitzvot; 13 positive mitzvoth and 38 negative mitzvot. The six previous parshiot in Sefer Vayikra contain a total of 97 mitzvot. (Torah Gems)
איש אמו ואביו תיראו ואת שבתתי תשמרו אני ה’ אלקיכם
“Every man, you shall revere your father and mother and you shall observe My Shabbos, I am Hashem, your G-d.” (19:3)
The respect for Shabbos is mentioned side by side with respect for parents, since these are the two specific characteristics of a Jew. As long as these two pillars endure, our relations with Hashem are secure. If one falls, then it becomes evident that the other falls as well. These two things: revering one’s parents and observing Shabbos, lead to one goal: knowing that I am Hashem, your G-d.
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)
ואהבת לרעך כמוך
“Love your neighbor as thyself…” (19:18)
The reason you love yourself certainly is not in order to fulfill a mitzvah. Neither should you love your fellow man merely because you were commanded to do so by Hashem. Let your love for him be spontaneous, flowing from the goodness of your heart. (Iturei Torah)
If you take a long, hard look at yourself you will no doubt find many flaws and shortcomings. Nonetheless, you love yourself intensely. In the same way, you should find it in your heart to love your neighbor, with equal fervor, in spite of the faults and shortcomings you detect in him. (Otzar Chaim)
This week’s Divrei Torah are sponsored in memory of Philip Zuckerman zt’’l, פסח יהודה בן יצחק עייזק, father of Howard, Rochelle and Steven Zuckerman. For future sponsorship opportunities or to receive this publication, please call Steve Zuckerman at 516 652 5266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Rabbi Lichter at email@example.com. Sponsorships in memory of or in honor of someone are $50.00 per issue.