Parshas Acharei Mos 2018: Live Because of Them
Hashem distributes the issur (prohibition) of immorality in Parshas Acharei Mos with a list of all the forbidden relationships for one to associate. Included in this list, for example are one’s relatives and the relatives of one’s spouse. Intriguingly, almost mid-sentence Hashem states, “Observe My statutes and ordinances -which a person shall do, and live because of them.” (Leviticus 18:5). Ramban comments, this statement is actually referring to each mitzvah that pertains to man and his fellow (social commandments). This category of mitzvos is called, “bein adam l’chavairo” (between man and his friend). In this category you’ll find mitzvos governing debts and loans and the prohibition against stealing and robbery, for example. With each one you observe, you promote a life with law and order ultimately creating peace, says the Ramban. Others are of the opinion, the phrase “and live because of them” means the mitzvos are for the sake of life (and not death). Ordinarily, on Shabbos a Jew cannot drive a car, but if a person becomes ill and needs to be taken to the hospital he is permitted to use a car. So, if the performance of a mitzvah would endanger one’s life then, the mitzvah is over-ridden. When one’s life is at stake we are not only permitted we are obligated to try and save their life. There are however, three exceptions in which one cannot transgress a mitzvah even to save a life. Those instances are: 1. Avodah Zara (idol worship), 2. Gilui Arayos (forbidden relations), and 3. Sh’fichus Damim (murder). If a person were being forced to commit any of those three or die, must die al kiddush Hashem (for the sake of Hashem) rather than transgress any of those commandments. The Chidushei HaRim offers another explanation for the meaning behind “and live because of them”. He says the mitzvos are meant to be performed with life (zeal and enthusiasm). Obviously, Hashem doesn’t want us performing His mitzvos haphazardly or halfheartedly. Imagine how a king would react if his newly hired butler would bring him his morning coffee with a dull, emotionless expression on his face and still half asleep? Surely, he’d find himself unemployed very quickly. In medieval times it would’ve been “OFF WITH HIS HEAD!” With Hashem, the King of all the kings, how much more so are we to acknowledge His commandments and fulfill them with life and enthusiasm. To live by the Torah and to live with the Torah is the obligation of every Jew. To fulfill the commandments of the Torah with life and enthusiasm, that should be the goal of every Jew.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend! Maverick V. Peters