Emor 5778

RABBI YONAH DICK

ויצא בן אשה ישראלית והוא בן איש מצרי בתוך בני ישראל (ויקרא כד:י)

And the son of a Jewish woman went out and he was the son of an Egyptian man,
among Bnei Yisrael (Vayikra 24:10)

The simple reading of the verse appears to be relating the person’s lineage: his mother was Jewish and his father was Egyptian. Upon further reflection, the Pasuk reads quite differently.
ויצא בן אשה ישראלית, the son of a Jewish woman went out, והוא איש מצרי, and he was the son of an Egyptian man. The word והוא, “and he was”, seems superfluous. If the intent of the Pasuk is to relate his lineage, it should read “that he was.” Stating “and he was” seems to begin a new statement.
To explain this, the beginning of the verse must be examined.
ויצא בן אשה ישראלית, the son of a Jewish woman went out. From where did he go out? Rashi, quoting the Midrash, poses this question. The Midrash explains, רבי לוי אמר מעולמו יצא, “Reb Levi said, ‘He went out from his world’”.
This Midrashic statement can be understood in two ways. The Midrash can be understood as referring to the result. The result of this person’s sin causes him to leave his world. The Person has commited the unthinkable crime of blaspheming G-d. His punishment – stoning and spiritual excommunication. He has lost his world.
Alternatively, the Midrash refers to the cause. What causes one to sink to such a spiritual low that he can commit such a heinous act of blasphemy? The answer, the cause, is that he has forsaken his world.
Every individual has a world. That world is himself. All the components that make up the person are part of the world of every human being. Collectively they form the world of the individual. With these components, one is able to confront the larger world around him, embracing the challenges and developing himself within.
One who leaves his world neglects the sacred duty of molding his own world. But it is not simply an obligation, a task to be performed. One’s world is also one’s haven. So long as one recognizes himself, his one true value, he can confront the greater world that at times seeks to swallow the world of the individual. One who leaves himself loses his retreat.
Every individual’s life is a journey from this world to the next. But these two worlds are not two separate entities. The same person who lives and exists in this world is the person who receives reward in the world to come. It is here in this world that every person creates the world which he is to enjoy for eternity.
The two ways of understanding the Midrash are actually the same. The world which the blasphemer forsook, his world, is the world which he lost after death.
ויצא בן אשה ישראלית, the son of a Jewish woman went out. This Person, whose mother was Jewish, went out. He had Jewish roots. His world was able to be transformed into the world of a Jewish person, yet he abandoned it. והוא בן איש מצרי, “and he was the son of an Egyptian man.” He decided to follow his paternal lineage. He conducted himself as the son of a non-Jew. Where? בתוך בני ישראל, “in Bnei Yisrael”. He brought Egyptian conduct into the camp of Klal Yisrael. Thus, the Pasuk condemns him. Not only did he become the איש מצרי, but even amongst Klal Yisrael, even within a place of sanctity, he brought in non-Jewish attitudes.
This is the Pasuk’s message. A man who had the potential to adhere to his Jewish roots adopted the customs of paganism, within an environment of total sanctity – all because he lost touch with himself.


RABBI MOSHE REZNIK

ולא תחללו את שם קדשי ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל (ויקרא כב:לב)

You shall not desecrate my Holy Name; rather, I should be sanctified
among the Children of Israel (Vayikra 22:32)

The Sefer HaChinuch in Mitzvah 296 writes that all men and women are commanded to give up their lives to sanctify the name of Hashem, rather than commit certain Aveiros. He explains that not all Aveiros, or times and places, are the same. There are the three well known cardinal sins: idol worship, murder, and forbidden relations. For these three, a person is always commanded to give up his life and not transgress, except in a case where he will transgress passively.
The Chinuch explains that when he refers to forbidden relations, he only means the ones that are so severe that if they were to attempt to marry, the marriage would not take effect, e.g., a brother and sister. But those that are not severe enough to prevent an attempted marriage from taking effect (necessitating a Get, divorce), e.g., a Kohen with a divorcee, are not included in the three main sins.
The Minchas Chinuch (21) clarifies that the Chinuch was only excluding relationships that are only a Lav, a negative commandment. A relationship with a Niddah, which would get Kares, would be included, even though when a Niddah gets married, the marriage is valid.
Sometimes a person has to give up his life rather than transgress even lesser sins. If it is in public (in front of 10 Jews) and the non-Jew trying to force him to do the Aveira is not doing so for his own benefit, but only because he wants to get the Jew to commit a sin, then the Jew must die rather than transgress. Also, in a Shas Hashemad, a time when Judaism is under attack, then even in private, or if the non-Jew’s intention is for his own benefit, one would still have to give up his life for Hashem’s name. In such a time, a person has to die rather than do even the slightest Aveira, e.g., wearing shoes that idol worshippers normally wear.
The Chinuch continues that the three cardinal sins include even אביזרייהו, their ancillaries. For example, a person would not be allowed to heal himself with the leaves of an Asheira tree, even though he is not doing the actual Aveira of worshipping idols.
The Chinuch questions his own analysis. If it is true that when one transgresses passively he need not give up his life, why, then, are there stories of Tzadikim in previous generations who gave up their lives rather than not be able to perform a positive commandment? For example, they gave up their lives in order to do the Mitzvah of Bris Milah and Lulav.
He answers that they were not really obligated to do so. It was a “Middas Chassidus” and they did it because they saw that their generation needed it.
Probably the Chinuch means that the generation needed a boost in its level of dedication to Yiddishkeit. An alternative explanation might be that the generation needed the extra Z’chus, merit.
He adds that in fact, it would generally be forbidden to give up one’s life for these Mitzvos.


The Kollel and Rabbi Hirschfeld join the community in mourning the passing of Mr. Mendy Klein o.b.m.