The Meaning of Adat By Ben Notis


Parashat Kedoshim begins with an unusual introductory sentence that is not present in most Parshiot. “VaYidaber Hashem El Moshe Laymor: Daber El Kol Adat Bnei Yisrael…, “And HaShem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to the entire congregation of the children of Israel…” (VaYikra 19:1-2). Most Parshiot which begin with a command from Hashem do not begin with the words “El Kol Adat,” “to the entire congregation”; the Torah would expend extra words for no significant reason.
                In an attempt to address the problem, Rashi quotes the Midrash in Torat Kohanim, stating that the Parashah specifically states “El Kol Adat Bnai Yisrael” to show that basic principles of Judaism within this Parashah should be imparted to the “entire congregation.” The basic principles of Judaism in Kedoshim include Shabbat, respecting one’s parents, loving one’s fellow neighbor, and prohibitions against stealing.
  However, Rav Menachem Liebtag poses a question on Rashi’s interpretation. Rav Liebtag explains that the Torah could have eliminated the word “Adat” entirely, or replaced the word “Adat” with “Kehal” while still conveying the important message of the Jews’ receiving the Parsha’s laws. To answer this question, Rav Liebtag explains that two possible root words could apply to the word “Adat,” to testify or affirm [Ayin Vav Daled] or to designate [Yud Ayin Daled]. Both “testimony” and “designation” apply to the first commandment of the Parashah, “Kedoshim Tih’yu Ki Kadosh Ani Hashem Elokeichem,” “You shall be holy because I, Hashem, your God, is holy.” Because the concept of God is beyond human grasp, it is difficult for man to prove Hashem’s existence; therefore Bnai Yisrael are given special Mitzvot to create a society that gives “testimony” to God’s existence. For this reason, Hashem “designated” Bnai Yisrael to become a nation.

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