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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas (Achrei Mos) Kedoshim

This week there is a double-sedra. We choose our analysis from the beginning of parashas Kedoshim.

Leviticus 19:2

"Speak to the assembly of the Children of Israel and say to them 'You shall be holy, because I, Hashem, your G-d, am holy.'"


You shall be holy: RASHI: Keep aloof from the forbidden sexual relations and from sin. Because wherever you find [in the Torah] a command to fence yourself off from sexual immorality you find the mention of "holiness." (Some examples) "They shall not take a wife that is a harlot, or a profane woman," etc (Lev.21:7) and the next verse "I am Hashem Who sanctifies you." And "Neither shall he profane his seed…for I am Hashem Who sanctifies him."

What Is Rashi Saying?

Rashi points out that the concept of 'Holiness' is related to strict observance of the Jewish sexual code of morality. He cites several verses to show the connection between the command to observe certain sexual restrictions and the mention that G-d .

Questioning Rashi

A Question: Each of the examples Rashi cites is about commandments to the Priests. But how does this apply to the Israelites who is not a Priest ?

Another question: Certainly the Torah mentions sexual offenses without mention of holiness. See the laws of the mamzer (Deut.23:3). No mention of holiness is found there. On the other hand, we have the mention of being holy where no sexual laws are mentioned (see Leviticus 11:44). So Rashi's examples do not seem to prove his point, that being holy means keeping aloof from sexual (only) prohibitions.

Understanding Rashi

An Answer: In order to understand Rashi fully, we always have to look at his words carefully. Rashi says "wherever you find a command to FENCE yourself off from sexual immorality…" From thsio we see that Rashi's point is not just trhat holines is connnected to sexual purity, but that holiness is connected with fencing oursdelves off from doing a sin. That means that we take even more procautions than are ordinarily necessary.

It is for this reason that Rashi chose the areas of the Priest. Because the Priests have special mitzvos to allow them to obtain a higher level of holiness than the rest of the people. This we see from the fact that their sexual laws are even more restrictive than those for the rest of the people. That is why Rashi chose those examples relating the Priest specifically. The exceptions to what we thought was Rashi's point, are no longer exceptions. Because his point is not just to keep the commandments related to sexual offences, but also to fence oneself off from any chance of doing them.

Again, we see how precise Rashi is in his wording.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

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