by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Parashios Achrei Mos - Kedoshim 5767These two sedras often come together for a double parasha, yet they are both jammed packed with mitzvos and Torah information. Kedoshim, in particular, is a central parasha , as Rashi says on its first verse: "most of the fundamental teachings of the Torah are contained in it." Let us look at a verse in Kedoshim.
Leviticus 19:11, 12:
11: You shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one man to another.
12: And you shall not swear by My name to a lie, and you would (thus) profane the name of your G-d; I am Hashem.
19:11,12: You shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie ... And you shall not swear: Rashi: If you steal you will eventually come to deny it and then to lie and then to swear falsely.
A Question: Why do think Rashi made this comment? What about the verse(s) lead him to it.
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?
An Answer: Our verse lists several ( 3 + 1) transgressions that the person is warned not to do. But the order is strange. One would expect that the order would progress from least transgression to the more serious one. For example, in Psalms (1:1) it says: "Happy is the man who did not go in the advice of the evil ones; and in the way of the sinners did not stand; and in the gathering of scoffers did not sit." The progression here is from least attachment to the sinners to the greater: First "went"; then "stood" and finally "sat" down with them. But our verse has the opposite. First stealing, then attempts to lie in order to cover up the stealing. The oaths and lying were problematic only because they were defending the sin of stealing. So stealing should be last, not first.
This is what clued Rashi (and the Midrash) in to the comment.
How does the comment deal with the difficulty?
An Answer: Rashi points to the fourth and last sin (mentioned only in the next verse) in the progression - swearing falsely using G-d's name and thus causing a Profanation of G-d's name. What Rashi is saying, in effect, is that profaning G-d's name is actually the worst offense in this list - worse than stealing itself. And therefore one should be careful not to steal which could start a chain of sins, which may eventually cause a Profaning of G-d's name.
Considering that the sin of profaning G-d's name is only mentioned in the next verse, we can ask why Rashi connected it to our verse.
Can you answer this question?
A CLOSER LOOK
An Answer: When we compare our verse ( 19:12) with other verses in this chapter that begin with a prohibition ("You shall not") (see verses 19:13,14,15,16, 17) we notice the difference. Of all the verses only our verse begins with the word "And" (the Hebrew letter "vav"); none of the others begin this way. This connects this verse (of profaning G-d's name) with verse 11, the beginning of the chain of sins. This indicates that there is a meaningful connection between the two verses. Rashi tells us what it is: Stealing eventually leads to swearing falsely and to profaning G-d's name.
But we must wonder: Is the only problem with stealing is that it leads to profaning G-d's name? This is what Rashi's comment seems to imply.
What do you think?
A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING
An Answer: Stealing is certainly a bad enough sin in its own right. It is not wrong only because it may lead to profaning G-d's name. But all things considered, our task in this world is to sanctify G-d's name; and as a consequence, His laws for living. If G-d is sanctified then people will want to follow all of His teachings. If He is not respected people will also not respect His Torah. If people follow the Torah they will not steal nor do other interpersonal sins. So it is like a circular causal chain. Respecting the Torah leads to keeping its mitzvos. Keeping its mitzvos (like not stealing) is the ultimate goal. But sanctifying G-d's name reaches beyond the individual mitzvah to the larger picture of keeping all of G-d's laws. If His name is profaned then the larger goal is jeopardized.
So Rashi is telling us that although stealing is bad enough, it also has "unintended consequences" which can even be worse - like profaning G-d's name.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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