Table Talk: Acharei Mot – Kedoshim
If Only It Was That Simple: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him.” (19:17) The prohibition against hating is, as the verse says, “in your heart”. The assumption is that there must be a reason that you hate someone else. He must have done something terrible if it was enough to make you hate him. Therefore, the next phrase is the Mitzvah to rebuke: if you saw someone doing something so bad that it was enough to hate him, don’t keep your feelings in your heart. Rebuke him for what he did. However, be careful that “you do not bear a sin because of him”, meaning, don’t embarrass him when you offer your rebuke. The idea is simple and straightforward; tell someone if you are upset with him. I wish it were that easy. The Ibn Ezra makes it even more difficult to understand. He explains the final phrase as meaning that you will probably find out that he really didn’t do the sin of which you suspect him. He may very well have an explanation. My experiences acting on these Mitzvot – Concepts – have not been so easy or wonderful. I understand that I am not quite skilled at offering rebuke. However, those times that I have offered artistic and compassionate rebuke still did not succeed. My efforts are usually met with denial. Even those people who have learned the Ibn Ezra do not act out the remainder of the scene according to his script! Exercise: Review, without mentioning names, a relationship that was damaged by someone who did something hurtful to you. Did you talk to him or her about what they did? How did they respond? Could you have offered the rebuke in a more constructive manner?
The Ten Statements
“Speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel…You shall be holy.” (19:1) Rabbi Levi said that this portion was taught to the entire assembly because all of the Ten Statements can be found in it. (Vayikra Rabbah 24:5) Can you find all ten of the Statements in this portion?
The Vocabulary of Evil
We tend to think of Lishon Harah as gossip. However, the Talmud teaches that even negative speech about trees and stones is considered Lishon Harah. Try to have at least one Shabbat meal without any negative speech at all. “I don’t like the chicken” is negative. (I don’t know about vegetables!)