Aliya-by-Aliya Parashat Kdoshim 5760

Numbers in [square brackets] are the mitzva-count of the Sefer HaChinuch.

Kohen – first Aliya – 14 p’sukim – 19:1-14

BE HOLY! – HOW? In light of the exceptionally large number of mitzvot in this sedra, one can fairly assume that the answer to that question is – by the observance of mitzvot. This means more than “just going through the motions”. It means a Torah way of life, mitzvot for the right motives and with the right enthusiasm.

One must revere his parents [212], yet keep the Shabbat, meaning (among other things) that if one’s parents tell him to violate the Shabbat (or any other mitzva – Torah ordained or rabbinic), he may not listen to them. (Neither may he be disrespectful in his refusal to obey.) Parents and their children are all commanded by G-d to keep the Shabbat (and all mitzvot).

We may not “turn towards” idolatry in thought or words [213] nor may we make idols [214]. This specifically prohibits making idols for others. Both these mitzvot are among the many that are designed to keep the Jew far away from idol worship.

Korbanot must be offered in the Beit HaMikdash in a proper and pleasing manner. Specifically, one must keep to the time limits presented for eating sacred meat [215]. Violation carries a death penalty from heaven.

Watch this next set of mitzvot: Leave the corner of your field uncut, so that poor people might come and find grain to reap [216]; do not reap your entire field [217]. A positive mitzva and a prohibition that basically say the same thing. Here’s another pair: Leave the gleanings of the field for the poor [218]; do not take the gleanings [219]. And then these two pairs of mitzvot are doubled again – each pair of mitzvot is counted separately as applied to a vineyard [220-223].

The last Mishna of Makot – R. Chananya b. Akashya says: G-d wanted to merit the People of Israel, therefore he HEAPED upon us Torah and mitzvot… This is more than saying that G-d GAVE us Torah & Mitzvot. He says we should leave the corner for the poor and He forbids us from cutting the corner. He forbids us from eating and drinking on Yom Kippur AND He commands us to fast. He forbids Melacha on Shabbat AND commands us to abstain from Melacha. This is a demonstration of G-d’s special relationship with the People of Israel. To the people of the world He “simply” said DO NOT STEAL. Many things are included in that prohibition, but the Ben Noach is commanded (one of the 7) on GEZEL. The Jew is given a whole set of mitzvot – in this case, prohibitions – against stealing and robbing, and withholding that which belongs to others, and cheating in business, and moving the boundary marker to illegally increase one’s land, etc. Of course, the violator has an impressive set of charges against him. But the Jew dedicated to Torah and mitzvot is showered with the benefits of many mitzvot. (This was one understanding of the multiplicity of mitzvot.)

Stealing [224], denying holding that which belongs to someone else [225], and swearing to that effect [226] are all forbidden. Swearing falsely [227] is forbidden.

Two observations: “A” lent his camera to “B” and B denies that he has A’s camera, and then swears that he doesn’t have it. One might think that there are two violations here. But actually, there are three. Mitzva [226] overlaps both[225] and [227].

Second observation: Swearing falsely is different from swearing in vain. Both are serious prohibitions. Take the following example as an interesting distinction between the two. If someone swears (with G-d’s name) that a banana is an apple, that is NOT a false oath; it is an oath in vain. Of course, it is not true that the banana is an apple, but everyone knows that and can see it for himself. The oath did not falsely convince me that is was an apple. Such an oath is a frivolous misuse of G-d’s name and the sanctity of an oath and is a violation of “Thou shalt not take G-d’s name in vain”. A false oath is one that people accept as truth, since they have no first-hand knowledge of the issue. When the lie deceives others, then there is falsehood. That the Torah says one who swears falsely disgraces G-d’s name by doing so, is echoed by the Rambam when he distinguishes between “serious” sins and “light” sins. The Rambam puts into the serious category all sins that carry a death penalty… and swearing falsely. So destructive are false and vain oaths to the underpinnings of society, that it is categorized with the capital offenses.

Withholding someone’s property [288], robbery [229], and delaying payment of a laborer [230] are prohibited. Notice that most people would rationalize the situation and not consider merely delaying payment as a form of theft. Nonetheless, the Torah implies that one is (can be?) as serious as the other.

It is forbidden to curse a fellow Jew [213]; and one may not place a stumbling block before the blind [232], meaning [not exclusively] that one may not mislead or entrap others. Care must be taken to even inadvertently mislead anyone. This can include stretching the truth or saying something that is not actually a lie, but it will convey to others that which is not really so.

(Helping someone the wrong thing is part of this prohibition – even if the other knows what he’s doing and wants to do it.)

Levi – second Aliya – 8 p’sukim – 19:15-22

Do not pervert justice [233], nor show honor to a prominent person during a trial [234]. We must always carry out true justice [235]. Once again, notice that we have a positive mitzva which, in essence, is the “flip side” of several prohibitions, the violation of which results in distorting and perverting justice. Technically, this positive command is directed to the judges and courts. However, the individual Jew must draw from these mitzvot the importance of being fair and applying some of these rules on an informal basis, to everyday life.

Neither gossip nor slander (regardless of whether what you say is true or false) [236]; do not stand by while your fellow is in danger of life, limb, or property [237]. Do not hate your fellow Jew in your heart [238]; reproach SENSITIVELY your fellow [239] being careful to avoid embarrassing him [240] (even while reproaching him).

Look carefully…Embarrassing your fellow is an EXTREMELY serious sin. The source is the context of reproach. Here is a Jew who is reproaching his neighbor for Shabbat desecration. If he doesn’t handle it well and causes undue distress to the Shabbat violator, then the reprover is guilty of embarrassing someone. If someone in the process of fulfilling the important mitzva of HOCHACHA must be sensitive to the feelings of the transgressor, how much more so must we be careful never to embarrass others.

Do not take revenge [241] nor bear a grudge [242]; “Love thy neighbor…” [243]

G’MATRIYA from L’Ora Shel Torah by R. Yaakov Auerbach z”l

The pasuk commanding us to love our fellow ends with the words, “I Am G-d”. From this we can see that MITZVOT BEIN ADAM L’CHAVEIRO, interpersonal mitzvot, have a component, shall we say, that make them also BEIN ADAM LAMAKOM, between the Jew and G-d.

Commentaries draw a parallel between the command to love one’s fellow and to love G-d. This idea can be generalized to the concept that mitzvot between man and G-d and interpersonal mitzvot have equal status. R. Auerbach z”l offers a numeric “proof” of this idea. V’AHAVTA L’REI’A'CHA KAMOCHA ANI HASHEM = 6+1+5+2+400 (414) + 30+200+70+20 (320) + 20+40+6+20+ (86) + 1+50+10 (61) + 26 = 907. And you shall love G-d… = (414) +1+400 (401) + 26+1+30+5+ 10+20 (66) = 907.

Notice the constant reminder: “I am G-d”, or words to that effect. Being nice to each other is not just nice; it is part of G-d’s Torah and the fulfillment of a mitzva.

It is forbidden to cross-breed animals of different species [244], to sow mixed seeds [245], and to wear Shaatnez, mixtures in a garment of wool and linen. Note that in this one pasuk, there is a forbidden animal-animal mix, a plant-plant mix, and an animal/plant mix.

The second Aliya finishes with the complicated issue of the atonement for improper relations with a maidservant who is partially freed and partially still a slave.

Sh’lishi – third Aliya – 10 p’sukim – 19:23-32

Fruits of the first three years of a tree’s life are forbidden – ORLA [246]. The fourth year’s yield is sacred [247] and must be eaten only in Yerushalayim, or redeemed and the money used for food and drink in Yerushalayim. From the fifth year on , the fruits are permitted to all.

It is forbidden to eat gluttonously [248].

One may not consult and rely on omens, divination, conjuring, or some aspects of astrology [249,250].

Shaving the temple area of the head is forbidden [251] as is shaving the face with a razor [252].

These two prohibitions apply to men only. They are unique in that all other prohibitions apply to both men and women. (Actually, there are some other exceptions, but this is the classis example.) Permanent tatooing is forbidden [253].

Protect your daughters from loose behavior.

Keep the Shabbat and respect the place of the Mikdash (even when no Beit HaMikdash stands there) [254].

Ov and Yid’oni (mediums and wizards) are forbidden [255,256].

One must rise and otherwise respect the elderly and Torah scholars [257].

The Talmud tell of a rabbi who told his colleague that when he sees men sitting by the roadside, he circumvents them so as not to burden them with standing for him as he passes by. His friend told him he was wrong, because the Torah attached Reverence for G-d with the mitzva of standing for SEIVA and ZAKEIN. Therefore, through the practice of this mitzva one can come to a higher level of Yir’at HaShem. Do not “spare them” from this mitzva.

R’vi’i – fourth Aliya – 5 p’sukim – 19:33-37

One must not take advantage of the newcomer to the Land (convert and/or stranger). The convert shall be treated with love; we must learn from our Egyptian experience. It is forbidden to cheat with any false measures [258]; one must be honest in weights and measures [259]. Keep all of G-d’s statutes and laws.

Chamishi- fifth Aliya – 7 p’sukim – 20:1-7

The punishment for Molech (a perverse idolatrous practice involving child-offering) is death by stoning. G-d will cut off the one who serves Molech. If society does not punish the violator, G-d will. So too for the practice of Ov and Yid’oni. Sanctify yourself and be holy.

Shishi- sixth Aliya – 15 p’sukim – 20:8-22

Preserve the statutes and do them, for G-d sanctifies us because of our deeds.

Cursing one’s parents, even after their deaths, is forbidden [260], a capital offense.

The Torah now reiterates the forbidden relationships that were presented at the end of last week’s sedra. They are all capital offenses. The specific death penalties vary, but it is in the context that Rambam learns the command to Sanhedrin to carry out the punishment of “internal burning” when called for [261]. Rambam holds that each of the four death penalties is counted separately among the 613 mitzvot.

Once again, the Torah commands us to preserve all of the mitzvot, thus preventing the Land from expelling us.

Sh’vi’i – 7th Aliya – 5 p’sukim – 20:23-27

It is forbidden to follow the customs and practices of the nations amongst whom we find ourselves [262]. This prohibition applies to idolatrous practices, immoral acts, and those things that have no apparent reason. In other words, there is no prohibition of copying a non-Jewish practice that is reasonable and constructive.

In order to inherit the land of Israel, we must not behave in the abominable ways of the nations who preceded us. We must distinguish between kosher and non-kosher animals (and life-styles); we must be holy and distinct from others. We are not automatically different from anyone else. Torah makes us different. Torah gives us our unique identities.

Notice the dual role that every Jew must play. We are each individuals and we are part of Klal Yisrael. We are exhorted to keep the Torah as individuals, but we are also “advised” to be faithful to G-d so that tragedies will not happen to the People of Israel as a whole.

Ov and Yid’oni are punishable by stoning.

Maftir (second Torah) – 7 p’sukim – Bamidbar 28:9-15

Chapters 28 and 29 in Bamidbar (Parshat Pinchas) deal with the daily and Musaf korbanot (sacrifices) in the Mikdash. The Musaf of Shabbat is two p’sukim long. Minimum Torah reading portion is 3 p’sukim, and that is why we do not read Shabbat’s Musaf on a weekly basis. Since the 2 Shabbat p’sukim are followed by the five that deal with Rosh Chodesh, both portions are read for the Maftir on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh. Notice that the Musaf of Shabbat is an expanded version of the weekday sacrifices and Rosh Chodesh’s Musaf is like those of the Chagim. Makes sense when you think about it. Six days… and on the 7th – Shabbat is one of the days of the week and the unique one among them. The Chagim belong to the Jewish calendar, which is based on the months and Rosh Chodesh.

Haftara – 24* p’sukim – Yeshayahu 66:1-24

The special Haftara for Shabbat-Rosh Chodesh is the last chapter of the book of Yeshayahu, and it preempts the regular Haftara of the weekly Parsha (usually). The obvious reason for the choice is found in the next to the last pasuk, which mentions both Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh. This pasuk is reread after the last pasuk, so that the book of Yeshayahu – and this Haftara – can end on a bright note. This chapter, as all chapters in Yeshayahu from 40 and on, contains a message of consolation.

Specifically, this chapter tells us that G-d cannot be contained in the physical Mikdash, nor is He interested in sacrifices that are not offered with sincerity. This message is appropriate all the time, and the association with Shabbat – week in and week out – and Rosh Chodesh – month in and month out, fits well.

Rosh Chodesh is Shabbat either twice or thrice a year. Average is 2.42 times a year.