Commentary for Kedoshim

25 Apr

Chapter nineteen in this week’s parshah contains what is often referred to as the “Holiness Code.” It is filled with many laws about the treatment of both ourselves and others, and many of the most week-known commandments in the Torah come from this section, including “do not curse the deaf or place a stumbling block in front of the blind,” “do no stand idly by on the blood of your neighbor,” and “love your fellow as yourself.” Also included in this section are a few ritual and agricultural laws on the theme of separateness, reinforcing the idea that while we might mix with non-Jews, we must still hold ourselves to God’s high standard of moral behavior.

 

Just after this section begins, the Torah takes a short but strange detour in verses 5-8 to talk about the prohibition against eating two specific types of sacrificial meat that becomes impure. The first is notar, which is meat that was left over beyond the allotted time to eat the meat of that sacrifice, and the second is pigul, which is meat that was sacrificed with the intention of eating it after its allotted time (meaning that pigul may not be eaten even within its allotted time).   In the case of pigul the meat becomes forbidden because of an intention to do the wrong thing, while notar meat becomes forbidden either through negligence or, as Hoffman suggests, a lack of considering the needs of others (even if you can’t finish the meat yourself, you could invite others- and Hoffman specifically mentions the poor- to help you finish it within the allotted time). No matter which reason it is, though, the meat has become prohibited.

 

This same idea can be applied to all of the laws of the “Holiness Code.” It does not matter if it was done with malicious intentions, through the negligence of not thinking about what the results of your actions might be, or through not taking the needs and considerations of others into account when you act; you have still done something wrong, and it is your responsibility to try to correct it.

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