Parshiyot Aharei Mot-Kedoshim 5783

April 24, 2023

Rabbi Rob Scheinberg

“Hokheiah tokhiah et amitekha.” “You shall surely reprove your fellow.” (Leviticus 19:17) Giving critical feedback, or tokhehah (often translated as “reproof” or “rebuke”), is a positive mitzvah in the Torah. Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise us, as constructive critique and feedback is a primary way that we learn and grow. And yet, already in the time of the Talmud, two of the greatest sages of their generation indicated that almost everyone who attempts to fulfill this mitzvah is doing it wrong. In the Babylonian Talmud, Arakhin 16b, Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah differ about why the system of tokhehah seems to be broken. According to Rabbi Tarfon, “I would be surprised if there is anyone in this generation who can receive rebuke. If the one rebuking says ‘Remove the splinter from between your eyes,’ the other responds: ‘Remove the beam from between your eyes!’” In other words, the experience of receiving criticism, even when generously offered, tends to activate the hearer’s defensiveness, which in turn makes the...

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Parashat Kedoshim 5782

May 6, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A Stumbling Block Before the Blind A D’var Torah for Parashat Kedoshim By Rabbi Jill Hackell (’13) Parashat Kedoshim contains many laws that outline a path toward leading a holy life. Although some of these are mystifying (e.g. the laws of shatnez – a prohibition against wearing clothing made from a mixture of wool and linen), the preponderance of these laws deal with the way one treats our fellow human beings. “Love your fellow as yourself” [Leviticus 19:18] can be seen as a summary of all these laws. If we can picture ourselves in the place of our fellow and treat her as we would want to be treated, then we will be living as we are meant to live. One law tells us, “You shall not insult the deaf or place a stumbling block before the blind” [19:14]. Our tradition tends to interpret this law broadly and...

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Parashiot Aharei Mot / Kedoshim 5781

April 23, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashiot Aharei Mot / Kedoshim By Rabbi Jill Hackell (’13) You shall rise before the aged and respect the elderly; you shall fear your God, I am the Lord.” [Leviticus 19:32] This verse is found in parashat Kedoshim, a parashah which begins with Moses transmitting these words of God to the community of Israel: “You shall be holy , for I, the Lord God, am holy.” [19:1-2] What does it mean to be holy? What does God ask of us? Let’s look at our verse as an example. At one time, Israeli buses displayed the first part of this verse – mip’nei siva takum – literally, ‘Rise before the gray-hairs’, on signs, to remind younger riders that society expects them to give up their seats to their elders. What a wonderful way to create a society which teaches the...

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Parashat Aharei Mot Kedoshim

May 1, 2020

A D’var Torah for Parashat Aharei Mot Kedoshim By Cantor Sandy Horowitz (’14) Parashat Kedoshim consists of a series of commandments which God wants Moses to convey to the Israelite people. As is God’s wont, God has a lot to say as the verses in this parashah jump from one topic to another– keep My sabbaths; when you reap your harvest, leave the corners of your field for the poor and stranger; do not curse the deaf; do not cross-breed your cattle; and so on. These are a few of the laws which appear just in the first two aliyot of the Torah reading. Imagine how the Israelites might have listened to this series of commandments while trying to remember it all; it must have felt overwhelming, and perhaps a bit confusing. What harvest? What stranger? Then we arrive at the beginning of the third aliyah: “When you come into the...

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Parashat Kedoshim – 5779

May 9, 2019

A D’var Torah for Parashat Kedoshim By Rabbi Isaac Mann This week’s sidra begins with the Divine command directed to the Children of Israel to be holy (kedoshim tih’yu) “for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). In Hebrew, the root meaning of kadosh is separate. This prompts us to ask what is the nature of this holiness or separation that God requires of us and how do we achieve it? At first glance one might respond to these questions by saying: “Look further in the text.” Indeed the very first commandment that follows is the obligation to fear one’s father and mother. This is followed in the same verse by the instruction to observe the Sabbath. The next verse warns us against idolatrous practices. This is followed by some specific instructions regarding the offering of sacrifices. And many more specific halakhot follow in the ensuing verses and...

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