Parshat Kedoshim -
The Repetition of the Laws of Arayot

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

Did you ever pay attention to 'maftir' in Parshat Kedoshim? If you did, you must have been terribly bothered by the final pasuk of the Parsha - for it simply doesn't belong there!

Furthermore, did you ever notice that Vayikra chapter 20 (the end of Kedoshim) is almost a repeat of chapter 18 (the end of Acharei Mot)?

For those of you who may be troubled by either of these two questions, the following shiur attempts to provide some answers.

Take a minute to review the final few psukim of Parshat Kedoshim (at least 20:23-27). While doing so, note how the second to last pasuk of Parshat Kedoshim could have formed a beautiful conclusion for the entire sedra:

"And you shall be holy [kedoshim] to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and I have set you apart from other nations to be Mine." (20:26)
However, instead of ending on that profound note, the Torah 'adds on' an extra pasuk that appears to be just 'dangling on' to this otherwise perfect ending for Parshat Kedoshim:
"And any man or woman who has an ov or a yid'oni shall be put to death, they shall be pelted with stones..." (20:27)
[Once again, review the 20:20-27 to verify this.]

And this is only one of the many difficulties that we encounter when studying chapter 20, for at first glance this chapter seems to be simply a repeat of chapter 18!

To tackle these problems, this week's shiur analyzes the internal structure of chapter 20, as well as its location within Sefer Vayikra. While doing so, we will uncover a beautiful chiastic structure that can help us better appreciate the Midrash halacha that Rashi quotes (on 20:27).

A Repeat of the Arayot
Take a few minutes to compare chapter 20 with chapter 18, and you'll find that almost every mitzvah that was mentioned in chapter 18 (i.e. 18:6-23 - the arayot/forbidden marital relationships) is repeated in chapter 20 (note 20:10-21). Note also how 20:22-24 repeats 18:26-28!

However, if you take a closer look, you'll notice how the manner of presentation of these mitzvot in each chapter is quite different. Note that the basic differences are as follows:

We'll return to this analysis shortly; however before we continue we must first take into consideration the overall structure of chapter 20, which happens to be rather intriguing.

A Chiastic Structure
Within chapter 20 [note that it constitutes an independent 'parshia'], we find a chiastic structure [ABCDCBA] that immediately explains why the last pasuk is 'out of place.' As usual, we'll use a board (#1) to present it. While studying the board (and the psukim!), note how the laws concerning the "arayot" in 20:9-21 are 'enveloped' by several sets of matching mitzvot.

Let's see now what we can learn from this structure. First we will explain why (and how) each set of psukim is linked. Afterward, we will explain how this structure relates to chapter 18 and the theme of Sefer Vayikra.

A-A: The 'Missing' Detail
First of all, by setting up the psukim in this manner, we immediately see how the last pasuk of chapter 20 (i.e. 20:27) forms the 'bookend' for 20:1-6! In fact, 20:27 is more than just a 'matching bookend'; it actually contains an important law that is missing in 20:1-6. Let's explain:

In 20:1-6 we find:

Then, we find: But, we are missing: In other words, even though 20:1-6 explains both the punishment by Bet Din and by God for one who worships Molech, for ov and yid'oni we find only the punishment by God, while the punishment by Bet Din is missing. Therefore, 20:27 - which informs us that the punishment by Bet Din for ov and yid'oni is death by stoning - complements the laws in 20:1-6. (See Board #2.)

[In the further iyun section, we will explain why specifically this law was taken from the 'header' and placed in the 'footer' of this unit, but in the meantime it is important that we recognize that these psukim form the 'bookends' of the entire 'parshia.'

Note also how the Midrash Halacha, quoted by Rashi on 20:27, learns from this pasuk that the punishment by Bet Din for all similar transgressions is also death by stoning!]

B-B: Back to Parshat Shmini
In addition to the obvious textual parallel of "ve'hitkadishtem v'heyitem kedoshim..." in 20:7 and 20:26, the conclusion of Parshat Shmini (see 11:44-47) provides us with an even stronger connection between 20:7 and 20:24. [That comparison you'll have to look up on your own.]

[Later in the shiur we must explain why the Torah 'surrounds' its repetition of the "arayot" with these special psukim describing the need to become "kadosh."]

C-C: A Familiar 'Envelope' for 'D'
The header and footer of "u'shmarten et chukotai..." (in 20:8 and 20:22) surrounding the list of the "arayot" [D] should not surprise us, for they repeat the pattern that was already set in chapter 18 - which also began with a 'header' (see 18:5) and concluded with a 'footer' (see 18:26) that 'enveloped' the list of "arayot" (see 18:6-24)!

[Note also how both 'footers' include the warning that the land will kick out those who transgress these laws.]

Up until this point our discussion has been very technical, simply showing how the Torah presents the laws of chapter 20 in chiastic form, and in a manner parallel to chapter 18. Now we must attempt to uncover the thematic significance of this presentation. As usual, we must consider the progression of the 'parshiot' in Sefer Vayikra and their connection to the themes in Chumash that we have discussed in our study of Sefer Shmot.

What's Different?
As we have already noted, most of the laws in chapter 20 were already mentioned in chapter 18. Therefore, to understand why the Torah repeats these laws, we must consider the two primary details that chapter 20 adds (noted above in the intro):

Even though chapter 18 teaches us that all of the "arayot" are forbidden, it does not detail the precise penalty for each transgression. It simply informs us that these acts 'defile' the land [tum'ah; see 18:24-25] and that God will 'cut off' those who transgress [kareit; see 18:29].

Now in chapter 20, the Torah informs us that the people are responsible to punish those who transgress (see 20:2,9,10 etc.). In other words, chapter 20 empowers Bet Din (the Jewish Court) to enforce these laws. In fact, enacting the death penalty (by stoning) is both the first and last topic of the perek, while each pasuk from 20:9-21 (detailing each of the "arayot") concludes with a form of punishment by Bet Din.

Note also how the Torah introduces these punishments for the "arayot" in chapter 20 with the statement: "ve'hitkadishtem... - and you should make yourselves holy" (see 20:7), and closes them in a similar manner (see 20:26, B-B above). However, in chapter 18, we find no mention at all of kedusha, only tum'ah!

This contrasting parallel suggests that the Torah considers the act of setting up a judicial system to enforce God's special laws as a form of kedusha!

Why is specifically this considered "kedusha?" Furthermore, why doesn't the Torah simply combine the laws in chapters 18 and 20 together? What do we gain by first learning that these acts or forbidden, and then only later finding out that Bet Din is empowered to punish he who transgresses?

To answer these questions, we must consider the progression of parshiot from chapter 18 to 20.

A Thematic Progression
Recall (from the shiur on Acharei Mot) how Sefer Vayikra divides into two distinct sections:

Recall as well how chapter 18 (with its introductory psukim emphasizing "Ani Hashem") forms the introduction to the second half of Sefer Vayikra. Let's take note of the progression of parshiot in the first part of this section:

Chapter 18:

Chapter 19: Chapter 20: First, God tells Am Yisrael how they should not act, then how they should act and that they must follow these rules, simply because He says so - "Ani Hashem! Not in fear of punishment by society, but only out love (or fear) of God.

Only afterward, in chapter 20, does God command Am Yisrael to enforce these laws, in order to ensure that they become a "mamlechet kohanim v'goy kadosh!"

Back to Sefer Shmot
In a certain manner, this progression is quite similar to what we found in Sefer Shmot. Recall that God's first commandment to Bnei Yisrael (when they were still in Mitzraim) was to recognize "Ani Hashem" (see Shmot 6:4-8) and to rid themselves of Egyptian culture (as explained by Yechezkel 20:5-11!).

[Note the obvious parallels to Vayikra chapter 18! See shiur on Parshat Va'eyra.]

Then, Bnei Yisrael arrive at Har Sinai and receive the Ten Commandments, that emphasize not only "Ani Hashem," but also that God will punish he who transgresses. [Note the obvious parallel between the Ten Commandments and chapter 19, as we discussed in the first shiur on Kedoshim.]

Then, the Ten Commandments are followed by Parshat Mishpatim, which introduces the civil laws which Bet Din must enforce. [Note the parallel now to chapter 20, based on our explanation.]

A Higher Level
Even though the progression of mitzvot in Vayikra is similar to the progression in Shmot, the content in these parshiot is quite different. Just like the mitzvot of Parshat Kedoshim take the mitzvot of Har Sinai to a higher level, so too the laws in chapter 20 in contrast to Parshat Mishpatim in Sefer Shmot.

In Parshat Mishpatim, Bet Din is instructed to enforce the most basic civil laws concerning damages ["nezikin"]. This form of judicial system is very important, but it is found in almost every society. In Sefer Vayikra, where the Torah emphasizes how we are to become a special nation - an am kadosh, Bet Din is now entrusted with the power to enforce not only civil laws, but also laws relating to "bein adam la'Makom" [between man and God].

This progression could be understood as striking the fine balance between realism and idealism. Ideally, we would prefer that the individual follow God's laws simply because God has commanded, and not out of fear that Bet Din may punish him. Therefore, the Torah first presents these laws while reminding us that "Ani Hashem," without mentioning at all that Bet Din is required to enforce them. Only afterward, God commands our society to set up courts to enforce these laws, in order to make sure that Am Yisrael indeed does become a goy kadosh.

This concept of kedusha - that God expects that we act on a higher level in order that we become worthy to be His people - is reflected in the concluding pasuk of chapter 20:

"And you shall be holy for Me, for I the Lord am Holy, for I have seperated you from the other nations to be mine!" (see 20:26)
Virtual ClassRoom enhancements by Reuven Weiser.

For Further Iyun
A. Ov and Yid'oni
In our shiur, we did not explain why specifically the law of ov and yid'oni is singled out, and used to conclude the parshia.

First of all, note Rashi on this pasuk, who quotes the Midrash Halacha that learns out from this special structure that just like ov and yid'oni is "chayav kareit" (see 20:6), or with a warning is "chayav sekillah" [stoning - see 20:27], so too for any other transgression... - see Rashi!

From a thematic angle, based on Sefer Devarim, ov and yid'oni take on additional significance. See Devarim 18:9-15 where the Torah forbids us to approach any type of 'future teller' or 'soothsayer' including the ov and yid'oni. Note how similar those psukim are to Vayikra chapter 18! There, the Torah explains how we must follow the guidance of a navi, and not look for guidance from those who use 'other methods.'

Every nation has its spiritual leaders. To become an am kadosh, we must be sure not to follow after these people who offer 'shortcuts' to spirituality by 'bringing up the dead' or 'reading palms' etc. As God's nation, we must recognize that our fate is solely in the hands of God, and thus a direct function of our deeds. Belief that certain events are pre-determined or believing that by bringing up the dead we can get an 'inside word' on what will happen, etc., negates the very basics of Judiasm and our belief in "hashgachat Hashem" as a function of our deeds. [See daily kriyat shma, etc., "v'akmal."]

B. V'hitkadishtem... In the above shiur, we saw how the concept of kedusha was introduced hand in hand with the mitzvah that Bet-din enact punishment against those who do not follow God's special laws.

Here, we find an amazing parallel (once again) to the events at Har Sinai. Recall that the first time in the Torah that we find an act of kedusha by man [i.e. "v'kidashtem..."] is at Har Sinai, when God commands Moshe to prepare Bnei Yisrael for Matan Torah: "Go to the people - v'kidashtam" (Shmot 19:10), and again in 19:14: "va'yered Moshe, va'ykadesh et ha'am..."

What did Moshe do that the Torah considers it "l'kadesh?"

Review 19:10-14, noting that Moshe warns them: "do not go near your wives" (19:15) [similar to the laws of "arayot"], and sets up policeman to guard the mountain instructing them to kill anyone who touches the mountain [by stoning - see 19:12-13]! This is quite similar to the laws in chapter 20 that introduce kedusha with appointing Bet Din din to enforce God's laws which relate to the fact that the Sh'china is now present in the camp.

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