Emor 5775

The posuk says “ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל,” and I will be sanctified amongst Bnei Yisroel.

This past week Hashem opened my eyes to a novel explanation and understanding of this posuk.

Before we get to that, let us understand the simple explanation of this mitzvah.

Rashi explains that we need to realize that as Jews, every action that we do reflects on Hashem. We need to internalize the undeniable truth that as the chosen nation we are ambassadors of Hashem. A good action will bring others to speak well of Hashem, and an aveira will bring to chilul Hashem, heaven forbid.

According to this explanation, the correct way to translate the word “בתוך” is among, since the mitzvah is to bring others to look at Hashem positively. This can only be accomplished if the action is taking place in public, and in full view for others to witness.

Indeed, Rashi makes it a habit whenever this mitzvah is quoted to explain how it is affecting other people.

However the Rambam takes a different approach. In Hilchos Yesodai Hatorah (5, 10), the Rambam writes that a person who refrains from an aveira or does a mitzvah in private for the sake of honoring Hashem, ie: fulfilling Hashem’s commandments, with no ulterior motive, has sanctified the name of Hashem.

If the Rambam understood like Rashi that the mitzvah is only to create a “good reputation”, than how can one fulfill this mitzvah even in private? It must be that the Rambam understood that this mitzvah includes when a person does a mitzvah and brings honor and respect to Hashem. This can be fulfilled even in private.

According to this understanding, we can translate the word “בתוך” to mean inside every person. The Torah is therefore commanding us “And I will be sanctified, given honor, inside bnei yisroel”, which can be understood as inside the person himself. This happens when a person does a mitzvah with the proper intentions with no other ulterior motives.