Parshat Kedoshim and the Ten Commandments

(To prepare for this shiur,
see the questions for self study.)

Using modern day terminology, 'Application Technology' would be a most appropriate title for Parshat Kedoshim.

In the following shiur we'll explain how and why.

In last week's shiur (on Acharei Mot) we discussed the transition that takes place in Sefer Vayikra (beginning in chapter 18) from Mishkan related topics to the more general mitzvot of daily life. (See Board #1.) While chapter 18 brought numerous examples of 'what not to do,' chapter 19 (i.e. the beginning of Parshat Kedoshim) tells us 'what we should do'; thus, its header is "kedoshim tihyu" - Be Holy.

In fact, in chapter 19 we find the most 'concentrated' list of mitzvot in the entire Chumash, covering the widest range of laws that govern all aspects of daily life. [That's why it's probably the most 'well known' chapter of Sefer Vayikra (even though it may not be the most 'well kept').]

After a cursory reading of Parshat Kedoshim, one is usually left with the impression that it simply contains a 'melange' of mitzvot, as it is quite difficult to pinpoint the logic of its progression. To arrive at a better understanding of the format of Parshat Kedoshim our shiur will explore the numerous similarities between this Parsha and the Ten Commandments.

"Avot" and "Toladot"
In the opening psukim of Parshat Kedoshim, it is hard not to find numerous parallels to the Ten Commandments (e.g. honoring parents, keeping shabbat, idol worship etc.). In the commentaries of Ramban (on 19:4), Ibn Ezra, and Chizkuni (on 19:2), one can find a complete discussion of these parallels. [It is suggested that you take a minute to read those commentaries, noting where they argue and where they agree. (These will be discussed later on in the shiur.)]

However, before we discuss the specifics, this overall parallel to the Ten Commandments begs explanation. If these mitzvot are the same as the Ten Commandments, then why are they repeated? On the other hand, if they are not the same, in what manner are they different?

One could suggest a very simple, yet meaningful explanation. Parshat Kedoshim is providing us not only with reminders, but also with examples of how to apply each of the Ten Commandments. In other words, each commandment can be understood as a principle that can be applied to a number of situations [sort of like "avot" and "toladot" in Hilchot Shabbat].

For example, the sixth commandment is "Do not kill" ["lo tirzach"], which implies don't take a knife and stab someone. Parshat Kedoshim teaches us "lo ta'amod al dam rayecha" - don't stand by while your fellow man is in danger and needs your assistance (see 19:16; note that the first half of that pasuk - not to spread gossip - should be considered another example of how you 'kill' someone without a knife!). Similarly, the fifth commandment tells us to honor our parents, while Parshat Kedoshim applies this, explaining that we must 'fear' them as well (see 19:3). [In our opening statement, we referred to this concept as 'application technology.']

The Two Halves of Vayikra
This understanding can enhance our conclusion from last week's shiur (on Acharei Mot). Recall our explanation that the two halves of Sefer Vayikra reflect how Am Yisrael is to take the "kedusha" concepts of the Mishkan (the first half of Vayikra) and apply that same "kedusha" to every realm of life (the second half of Vayikra). Considering that the Mishkan itself serves to perpetuate the Har Sinai experience (see TSC shiurim on Terumah/Tezaveh and Ramban on 25:1), it becomes very meaningful that the Ten Commandments that were given at Ma'amad Har Sinai form the principles that Parshat Vayikra is based on. Furthermore, just as we are to 'apply' the kedusha of the Mishkan to all realms of life, so too are we to 'apply' the principles of the Dibrot to all realms of daily life.

Recall as well that the goal of God's covenant with Am Yisrael at Har Sinai was to transform His nation into a "mamlechet kohanim v'goy kadosh" (see Shmot 19:4-6). In this manner, one could say that Sefer Vayikra teaches us how to achieve that goal, by 'translating' God's covenant with Am Yisrael at Har Sinai into a way of life.

With this in mind, the second part of our shiur will show how this concept can help us understand one of the applications of "Lo Tisa" to daily life.

The Missing Parallel
Although most of the parallels between Parshat Kedoshim and the Dibrot are straightforward, one mitzvah appears at first glance to be missing. The issue of the "missing commandment" becomes clear when considering the internal pattern within Parshat Kedoshim.

In the first 18 psukim of Parshat Kedoshim, the 'refrain' of "Ani Hashem" is repeated eight times (at the end of just about every other pasuk), only in two different forms. The first four times we find the phrase "Ani Hashem Elokeichem" (see 19:1-10), while in the last four instances the clause appears as simply "Ani Hashem" (see 19:11-18). This pattern suggests a division of these mitzvot into two groups.

When taking a closer look, the distinction between these two groups becomes clear. The "Ani Hashem Elokeichem" group contains primarily mitzvot "bein adam la'makom" (between man and God), hence paralleling the first five Dibrot, while the "Ani Hashem" group features primarily mitzvot "bein adam l'chaveiro" (between man and his fellow man), corresponding to the last five Dibrot. Expectedly, in the "Ani Hashem" group (see 19:12,14,16,18) we find a variety of mitzvot "bein adam l'chaveiro," many of which signify obvious parallels to the last five Dibrot, as shown in Board #2.

In the "Ani Hashem Elokeichem" group (see 19:2,3,4,10), however, we find a clear parallel to only four of the first five Dibrot: "Anochi..." (see 19:2), "Lo yihyeh..." (see 19:4), Shabbat and Kibud Av V'Eim (see 19:3). The parallel for 19:5-10 [the laws of "pigul" and "pe'ah" etc.] is, at first glance, unclear. (See Board #3.)

Thus, one parallel to one Dibur seems to be missing in this unit; i.e. we find no parallel for the third Dibur - "Lo tisa et shem Hashem Elokecha la'shav" - in the "Ani Hashem Elokeichem" group.

Chizkuni (based on Vayikra Rabba 24:5) suggests that "Lo Tisa" is paralleled by "lo tishavu b'shmi la'shakker" (19:12). (See Board #4.) However, that parallel would 'violate' the structure we discerned above, which divides between the first five and last five Dibrot. Furthermore, given its context and the word "shakker," the parallel of "Lo tishavu b'shmi la'shakker" to "Lo ta'ane b'rayacha eyd shakker" (of the last five Dibrot) seems far more convincing.

Lo Tisa and Shem Hashem
Based on the pattern established by the phrase "Ani Hashem Elokeichem" and through the 'process of elimination,' the parallel to the mitzvah of "Lo Tisa" must be located somewhere between 19:5 and 19:10. The problem is, these psukim discuss the laws of pigul, which seem entirely unrelated to the prohibition of "Lo tisa et shem Hashem!"

Yet, since our parallel begs us to look for a connection, let's give it a try.

The law of pigul requires that the meat of a Korban Shlamim be eaten within two days, a prohibition so severe that it carries the punishment of kareit (see 19:8). Chazal interpret this prohibition even more stringently, extending the prohibition to even thinking about eating the korban outside of its time frame. Intention to this effect while administering the korban renders the offering pigul and carries the punishment of kareit!

Why is the punishment for thinking about pigul so severe, and what does all of this have to do with "Lo Tisa?!"

To answer this question, we must return to the basic concept of the mizbayach (and, by extension, korbanot) in Chumash.

Shem Hashem and the Mizbayach
Recall from Sefer Breishit that Noach's offering of korbanot on a mizbayach reflected the new relationship between God and mankind in the aftermath of the Flood (see Breishit 8:20-22). Ten generations later, Avraham Avinu, immediately upon his arrival in Eretz Canaan, builds a mizbayach and 'calls out in God's Name' in Bet-El [literally, the 'House of God'] (see Breishit 12:8 and 13:4; note Ramban on 12:8!). Later, Yaakov Avinu vows that one day this very site will become a "beit Elokim" - a house for God (see 28:17-22). Clearly, the mizbayach in Chumash serves as a vehicle through which man 'calls out in God's Name,' thus recognizing his connection to God.

Later, at Har Sinai, we find a similar connection between the mizbayach and "shem Hashem" [God's Name]. Immediately following the Ten Commandments, God instructs Bnei Yisrael:

"An earthen mizbayach you shall make for Me... wherever I call out my name I will come and bless you." (Shmot 20:20)
[Note that the mitzvot in Shmot 20:18-22 may parallel the first three Dibrot, while the remaining Dibrot are parallel to the mitzvot that follow in Parshat Mishpatim (very similar to what happens in Parshat Kedoshim). According to this structure, the law of mizbayach (see 20:20-22) clearly parallels "Lo Tisa!" Read carefully! (See Board #5.)]

Thus, the concept of "shem Hashem" relates directly to the mizbayach. It stands to reason, then, that the law of pigul [itself a special law relating to the mizbayach] may be considered the parallel to "Lo Tisa." If so, then our parallel between the Dibrot and the opening psukim Parshat Kedoshim is complete! (See Board #6.)

[Note also that the law of pigul includes an element of chilul Hashem (see 19:8 - "et kodesh Hashem chi'lel"), consistent with its relevance to the issue of 'shem Hashem.']

'Thinking' is Worse Than Eating!
But why is the punishment for pigul so severe? What is so terrible if one eats from his korban for an extra day? Is it really better that he should let the meat 'go to waste?'

Furthermore, why do Chazal emphasize that the primary transgression relates to merely thinking about eating the korban outside its time frame?

To answer this question, we must explore the underlying rationale behind the law of pigul.

Considering that a single person cannot possibly consume the meat of an entire animal in a day or two, the Torah's ban against eating a Korban on the third day forces the individual to share the meat of his korban with others. [Recall that a korban must also be consumed within the walls of Yerushalayim, effectively precluding the option of bringing the korban 'home' to share with his family. The case of a korban Todah, when one is required to tell others the praise of God (see Tehilim 107:22), is even more stringent. See earlier shiur on Parshat Tzav and the Korban Todah.] If so, then the mere thought of eating a korban outside its time frame implies that the owner does not want to share his korban with others. In other words, the individual offering the korban is being selfish, intending to save the meat all for himself.

But what is so evil about selfishness that it renders the culprit deserving of kareit - to be totally cut off from Am Yisrael?

A Necessary Balance
This law of pigul may present us with a crucial "musar haskel" (moral message). Recall that the Korban Shlamim is a voluntary offering whereby one expresses his closeness to God and reaffirms his commitment to the covenant of Har Sinai. If at the height of one's spiritual experience, as he stands in front of God offering his Korban Shlamim, a selfish thought can still enter his mind - he does not want to share his korban - God becomes 'disgusted' and the korban becomes pigul. A person who has yet to inculcate within his mindset the fundamental value of sharing with others has no right to stand in front of the mizbayach and offer a voluntary korban to God!

[The juxtaposition of the laws of pigul with the mitzvot of "pe'ah" and "leket" (see 19:9-10) provides further proof for this interpretation of pigul. They, too, require one to maintain a constant awareness of, and sensitivity towards, the needs of others.]

One could suggest that it is precisely this message that the two luchot of Brit Sinai convey. The mitzvot "bein adam la'makom" of the first five Dibrot are 'part and parcel' of the mitzvot "bein adam l'chaveiro" of the last five Dibrot. This necessary blend between one's service of God and his respect and care for his fellow man, so typical of the other laws of Parshat Kedoshim, should be the most prominent, defining characteristic of the Jewish nation.

When Am Yisrael act in this manner, they become a genuine Am Kadosh, a holy nation that truly testifies that God is Kadosh and His Name is Kadosh (i.e. they bring "shem Hashem" to the world; see also tefilat mincha for shabbat!).

In conclusion, then, Sefer Vayikra remains, as Chazal establish, Torat Kohanim - the laws pertaining to the Kohanim. However, if our assumptions in the above shiur are correct, then the term "Kohanim" may refer not only to the priests who officiate in the Mikdash, but also to Am Yisrael as a nation. This Sefer serves as a guide for how the nation can become a "Mamlechet Kohanim v'Goy Kadosh."

As Israel celebrates its birthday next week, this message in Parshat Kedoshim can help steer us in the proper direction.

Virtual ClassRoom enhancements by Reuven Weiser.

For Further Iyun
A. Can you suggest a reason why "Ani Hashem Elokeichem" relates to the mitzvot "bein adam la'makom," while "Ani Hashem" relates to the mitzvot "bein adam la'chaveiro" (at least in the first 18 psukim)? [Hint: Which mitzvot are more universal, and which are unique to Am Yisrael?]

B. Throughout Parshat Kedoshim, there appears to be no or very little connection from one mitzvah to the next. Do you think this is intentional?

If so, explain the significance of this presentation based on the above shiur.

[See Ibn Ezra in 19:3-18. Do you agree with all his associations concerning the flow of the parsha?]

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