19:1) “Dabaer el-Kol Adas Benei Yisroel V’omartoh Aleihem Kedoshim Tiyhu Ki Kodesh Ani Hashem-Speak to the entire congregation of the Children of Israel and say to them be holy for I Hashem am holy.” The parsha begins with a very general statement to be holy, then goes on to specific mitzvos that seem to parallel the Ten Commandments. How are we expected to be like Hashem who is holy?
The words Kedoshim Tiyhu imply a certain separation. Hashem has given us an instruction manual towards this goal. It is the Torah and the mitzvos contained therein. Through the actions of performing these mitzvos we are able to take the physical world and elevate it to a level that is G-D like. As we say when we make a blessing “Asher Kidishanu B’Mitzvosav-As we are sanctified through your commandments.” There are 248 positive commandments corresponding to the 248 limbs of the body. When performing these positive commandments we activate the Kiddusha that Hashem invested in them. Thus we become holy.
(19:3) “Ish Imo V’Aviv Tirou V’Es Shabsosai Tishmaru-Every man; Your mother and father shall you revere and my Sabbaths shall you observe.” From the juxtaposition of these two commandments- to revere parents and to observe Shabbos- the Sages derive that if a parent commands a child to desecrate the Shabbos the order must not be obeyed.
The Zohar writes that the connection between these two commandments is that when one introduces a Torah Chidush on Shabbos he honors his parents. What does this mean? On Shabbos we are given a Neshama Yeserah-An extra soul. When that soul returns upon the conclusion of the Shabbos, it is asked what new Torah concept it introduced during that week? This becomes a tremendous merit for the parents residing in the upper world.
(19:23) "Ki Sovo el Ha'aretz-When you come to the land." The history of the world also began with the planting of trees at the time of creation. However the mitzvah to plant trees upon entering the land is not written in the usual way. It would normally included the words "the land that I will give you" this indicates that it applies to any land even outside of Eretz Yisroel. The Kol Torah writes that this mitzvah was given to Benei Yisroel to wean them from selfishness. People given great prosperity are tempted to use it for themselves. By prohibiting the use of their produce for three years they will learn how to detach from the physical and realize that everything comes from Hashem.
These two parshious are usually read together. This implies that after death there will be Kiddusha. We learn this from the Korban Shelamim. The shelamim may be eaten for a day a night and another day. This is a chidush for most sacrifices can only be eaten for a day and a night. The Chasam Sofer explains that one of the basic differences between Klal Yisroel and all the other nations is in how they view this world. From the time of the flood, where the descendants of Noach were told that the cycle of day and night will not cease, day is mentioned before night. For them day represents this world and is the priority. For them that’s all there is. Night represents darkness and death to them there is nothing more and is thus secondary.
Torah view is that this world is compared to night and that the real existence is in the world to come. The Shelamim teaches us that there is a time after death, another day, a day of Techiyas Hamaisim. This world was created for us to serve Hashem. The reward for which will be given in Olam Habo. But there is another time when the body and soul will be reunited to once again serve Hashem. For the soul without the body cannot grow and cannot serve Hashem. This will be an eternal world which Hashem will bring and is hinted here in the Shelamim which means whole.
This parsha goes on to discuss many mitzvos. One of which is the din of not judging a person until you have been in his shoes. The Midrash says about this that it means “Dan Likav Zechus”. The Baal Shem Tov says that you “will be” in that person’s shoes. He brings the story of Dovid Hamelech with Batsheva, that had an appearance of wrong doing and Hashem sent a Navi to him who told him a story about a poor person who had only one sheep which he took in just like a member of his family. The rich person one day had a guest over and instead of taking from his own stock took this poor persons only sheep. When Dovid heard this he was furious and said that person should pay for what he did. At this point the Navi told him this rich person is you. You have 18 wives yet you took Batsheva from this man who had only one wife. Dovid admitted his wrong and did teshuva. The point is Hashem tests a person to see how he reacts to certain events and that is how he is judged. He is shown a similar thing in a different light to see how he reacts. Will he be understanding or show no mercy. However he reacts thats how he is treated. So a person shouldn't judge someone because he is in the other persons shoes.
Hashem told Moshe to warn Benei Yisroel not to do like the Mitzrim and not to be like the Caananites. One is where they have been the other is where they are headed. Why are these mentioned here? The Torah wanted to emphasize that these halochos of morality, which the Torah commands, are for all the generations. The Torah does not minimize the enormous power of these human tendencies. But by bringing in Benei Yisroel's origins it shows that these can be overcome. A person’s surroundings are no more conducive to sin than the one found in either Egypt or Caanan.
(20:22) "Ushomatem es Kol Chukosay ...Vlo Soky Eschem Ho'Aretz-You shall Guard all my my decrees..so that the land will not disgorge you." This verse, which speaks about the expulsion of Benei Yisroel from the land of Israel for disobeying the word of Hashem, is the 3338th verse in the Torah. The Gra writes that every year in history has a corresponding verse in the Torah and if you look at that verse you will invariably find a correlation to events that affected Klal Yisroel. This verse corresponds to the year 3338 which is the year of the destruction of the first temple and the subsequent exile of Klal Yisroel from the land for the very sins which it warns against.
Moshe Emes V'Toroso Emes.