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Pop Quiz: What are the three categories of kil'ayim (forbidden intermixture)?


by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

When we think of the term "holiness" we tend to associate it with ascetic behavior, such as fasting and abstaining from the regular activities of this world. This perashah teaches us otherwise. The Torah commands us to be holy and then immediately exhorts us to honor our parents, to pay our bills on time, not to embarrass others and a host of laws which contribute to peace and harmony amongst our people. Our concept of holiness is living a life which is very active in the society in which we live, but living it in a way which will make our stay in this world a meaningful one. If we think about others when we do our thing, not only by not hurting them but by helping and assisting them, this leads to holiness. All of the misvot, whether between man and Hashem or man to man, lead a person to "kedushah" - holiness. That's why all the blessings prior to the misvot have the words "Asher kideshanu bemisvotav- Who has sanctified us with His misvot." Shabbat Shalom.


by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"You shall not be a gossipmonger (rachil) among your people. You shall not stand aside while your fellow's blood is shed" (Vayikra 19:16)

What is a gossipmonger (rachil)? It is when someone goes to his friend and tells him what a third party said about him. If there is the slightest possibility that it would cause ill will, it is prohibited. Rashi explains. The word rachil is related to rochel, a peddler, because a gossiper goes from person to person and house to house "peddling" his slander and gossip.

The Rambam explains that gossipmongering is a great sin and has been the cause of much bloodshed. This is why the Torah follows up this commandment by warning against standing aside while someone's blood is shed.

When a person goes to his friend and he tells him what Mr. So and So said about him it appears that he is telling him this because he is his friend. However, the reality is just not so. Our Sages teach us that not only is the one who speaks punished, but also the one who accepts and believes the gossip is held accountable. So when this rachil goes to his "friend" and tells him about what a third party said about him, he is causing his friend to be punished as an acceptor of gossip and probably endangering his life! This is an added facet to what the Rambam says, that the Torah puts these two ideas together - gossip and standing by while his friend bleeds. For if a person violates the law of being a rachil he also violates the law of you shall not stand aside etc. The rachil endangers the life of that person that he considers his friend. Powerful, scary - but true. Let's be more careful. Shabbat Shalom.


"And you shall not give any of your seed, to set them apart to the Molech. And you shall not profane the name of your G-d" (Vayikra 18:21)

The Ramban is of the opinion that the depravity of worshipping this idol was so great, that people would actually pass their child through the fires of the Molech, until the child died. Accordingly, the meaning of Hilul Hashem (desecration of Hashem's Name) may be understood. What greater desecration of Hashem's Name is there than by one who believes that by offering his child as a sacrifice to an idol, his house will be blessed by this same idol! The Seforno suggests an even stronger understanding of Hilul Hashem. He says that when one offers animals to Hashem, but then offers his child to the Molech, then it would appear that the Molech is superior to Hashem. By serving the Molech, not only is he guilty of a serious offense, but he also desecrates Hashem's Name by acknowledging the superiority of the Molech.

The concept of applying greater emphasis to those endeavors which are antithetical, or less important than serving Hashem are now viewed in a new light. How often do we apply and exert our greatest energies in pursuit of the temporal gratifications of this world while indolence and complacency govern our life in regard to the World to Come? Unwittingly we are performing a gross desecration of Hashem's Name. (Peninim on the Torah

Answer to pop quiz: In animals, in crops and in clothing (sha'atnez).

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