Honesty and Torah Study by Rabbi Yosef Grossman


              This week's Parsha begins with the Pasuk,"Speak to the entire congregation of the Jewish people and say to them, you shall be holy, for I, Hashem your God, am holy."

              Rashi quotes the Sifra as saying that this teaches us that this Parsha was said in the assembly of the entire nation since the majority of the essentials of the Torah are mentioned in it.

              Rav Moshe Feinstein asks, "if many Parshot contain many essentials of the Torah, why was this Parsha singled out to be said in the assembly of everyone?"  Rav Moshe answers that this Parsha is unique since it contains a mixture of laws dealing with those we can understand and those we cannot understand.  This uniqueness coupled with its being said before the assembly of the entire nation underscores that all the commandments must be done because Hashem commanded us and not because they make sense to us.  When we let our subjective understanding assert control, we may stray off the correct path.

              In Perek 19, Pasuk 11, the Torah says, "You shall not steal, neither shall you deal falsely nor shall you lie to each other..."  Rav Moshe asks why this Pasuk is written in the plural form unlike many other Pesukim in this section.  He answers that the prohibition not to steal refers even to a case where we have good intentions.  The Gemara in Mesechet Baba Metzia 54b teaches us that we cannot steal in order to pay Kefel (pay back double), so that we find a way to give the poor man "charity."  Stealing may come in many forms, and they are all equally forbidden.

              It is strange that the beginning of the Parsha has so many commandments whose logic is obvious, such as honoring our parents, not stealing, and dealing honestly.  From this we see not only when we perform commandments between man and God but also when we perform our everyday affairs, we must remember that we are holy and should act accordingly.  In this way, we will watch ourselves.

              I once heard from Rav Reuven Feinstein Shelita that his father believed that young children should constantly learn the Gemarot from Seder Nezikin during their youth.  Rav Reuven asked his father why should they learn these particular Gemarot?  Rav Moshe answered, if they constantly have it emphasized to them that one may not steal, then hopefully when they leave the Yeshiva they will not steal.  However, if monetary laws are not constantly reviewed, then it will be very difficult for them to be honest.

              As we count each day of the Omer we should work on ourselves to grow spiritually and improve our Middot, character traits, so we will be holy and fulfill the Pasuk and theme of this Parsha, "You shall be holy for I, Hashem your God and Holy."

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