Torah Fax

Friday, May 6, 2005 - 27 Nissan, 5765
 
Torah Reading: Kedoshim(Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27)
Candle Lighting time: 7:39 PM
Shabbat ends: 8:45
Pirkei Avot: Chap. 1
Shabbat is 13 days of the Omer
We bless the New Month of Iyar
 
Commandments Ten
 
This week's Parsha of Kedoshim contains many of the fundamental teachings of Judaism. In fact, the Midrash notes that all of the Ten Commandments are discussed in our Parshah: 1) "I am the L-rd your G‑d," and here it is written, "I am the L-rd your G‑d" 2) "You shall have no other gods before me," and here it is written, "Nor make to yourselves molten gods"  3) "You shall not take the name of the L-rd your G‑d in vain," and here it is written, "And you shall not swear by My name falsely"   4) "Remember the Sabbath day", and here it is written, "And keep My Sabbaths"  5) "Honor your father and your mother," and here it is written, "Every man shall fear (or: respect) his mother and his father."   6) "You shall not murder," and here it is written, "You shall not stand by the blood of your fellow." 7) "You shall not commit adultery," and here it is written, "Both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death."  8) "You shall not steal," and here it is written, "You shall not steal."  9) "You shall not bear false witness," and here it is written, "You shall not go about as a talebearer."  10) "You shall not covet... any thing that is your fellow's," and here it is written, "Love your fellow as yourself."
 
It is noteworthy the order of the Ten Commandments repeated in our Parsha has been changed: Based on our Midrash, the order of the Commandments in our Parshah is: 1) Respecting parents, 2) Keeping the Sabbath, 3) Believing in G‑d, 4) No idols, 5) No theft, 6) Taking G‑d's name in vain, 7) False testimony, 8) Murder, 9) Coveting, 10) Adultery.
 
But why did the Torah have to repeat the Ten Commandments? And why in a different order? Another salient difference between the two versions of the Ten Commandments-that will help answer our other questions-is that in their initial formulation they are phrased in the singular. Here, for the most part, they are phrased in the plural. And as the opening phrase of this Parsha underscores: Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them..."
 
This signifies that there are two ways in which we develop our relationship with G‑d and His commandments: One is personal and private; the other is family and community oriented. And since a family begins with the birth of a child, the Torah, in this week's Parsha, delineates the Ten Commandments in the order that they become relevant in the rearing and development of a child: 
 
Hence in our Parsha we are told first to show respect for parents. The bedrock of a civilized and G‑dly society is the family, and the family structure requires filial responsibility. And the very first thing a child is exposed to is his relationship with his parents. A child who learns from the earliest moments of his or her life that s/he has a higher authority-a "surrogate of G‑d," as it were-will more readily accept the authority of G‑d. Moreover, it is the parent who creates a holy environment, particularly the mother, which explains why, in this Parsha, the Torah mentions the mother before father. The basic introduction to holiness-the very name of this week's Parsha-comes from a child's exposure to its parents, specifically the mother. 
 
To ensure that Judaism is embraced by the children, celebrating Shabbat is crucial. More than any other commandment or ritual, Shabbat is the medium through which the spirit of and respect for Judaism is transmitted to the next generation. The Shabbat atmosphere generates holiness and warmth that is forever ingrained in our lives, especially when we experience the Shabbat warmth in our earliest formative years.
 
Respect for parents, and experience of the Shabbat are thus mentioned first. They are the twin influences-inculcated in the child even before it can understand anything about G‑d and His unity, the next two commandments in this week's Parsha.
 
The first thing a child is taught to say is the Shema, which affirms our belief in G‑d. One cannot wait until the child matures to introduce him to G‑d. Immediately upon reaching the age when a child can speak, it must be exposed to an awareness of G‑d. As a child begins to interact with others it is prone to appropriating things that do not belong to them. Hence the next step in the educational process of kedoshim-be holy is to inculcate the value of not taking that which does not belong to the child; respect for the other's property. When dealing with a child, we do not care if he or she says prayers invoking G‑d's name in vain. Only at a more advanced stage in the child's development, does s/he have to be told how to be careful to not mention His name in vain; which is our way of showing our respect and reverence for Him.
 
When the child gets older and develops socially, we must admonish him to not disparage others, the commandment that parallels false testimony. This is followed by the command not to stand idly when another person's life or well-being is in jeopardy, the commandment that corresponds to murder.
 
To top off the moral education of the child and adolescent, there is a point at which the child is paradoxically more vulnerable and sophisticated enough to be in control of its desires and can be told to not covet someone else's property based on the principle of "Loving your fellow as yourself." And finally, when the child becomes an adult and marries, he or she has to be told about faithfulness in marriage as well, and how adultery brings about the destruction of the family, the medium through which holiness is introduced to the world and which guarantees the continuity of Jewish values.
 
Our generation, more than any other previous one, has been challenged with regard to this very task of inculcating holiness into our children. Perhaps the reason why holiness is so much under assault in the present day and that introducing our youth to it is so challenging is precisely because we are so close to the coming of Moshiach, the age that will permeate the world with holiness. Thus our generation's challenge is precisely in the area that we have the greatest potential to excel in. This is in line with a well known Chassidic notion that the greatest obstacles are placed in front of the things that matter the most.
 
Moshiach Matters
 
At the present time, when the world trembles, when all the world shudders with the birth-pangs of Moshiach, for G‑d has set fire to the walls of the Exile... it is the duty of every Jew, man and woman, old and young, to ask themselves: What have I done and what am I doing to alleviate the birth-pangs of Moshiach, and to merit the total Redemption which will come through our righteous Moshiach? (Rabbi Yosef Y. Schneersohn, the Previous Rebbe)
Moshiach - It’s a Jewish issue. For more info, visit www.moshiach.com
 
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