Parashiot Acharei Mot and Kedoshim (After death and Holy ones)
Leviticus 16:1-18:30, 19:1-20:27
Haftarah: Amos 9:7-15
This week’s lesson will come from the second of the two Torah portions which are read on this Shabbat. In Parashat Kedoshim HaShem commands Israel to be Holy. One of the primary purposes for this is for Israel to have an influence upon the Gentiles that they too might submit to the same teachings and find the same blessings. In chapter 20 one reads these words,
“And HaShem spoke to Moses saying, ‘and to the Children of Israel you shall say, any man from the Children of Israel and from the dweller who dwells in Israel who gives his seed (child) to Molech shall surely die; the people of the Land (Israel) shall stone him with stone‘” Leviticus 20:1-2
Although most rabbis understand “the dweller who dwells in Israel” as a proselyte, such an interpretation is without foundation. There is no difference in Jewish Law between a convert and one who was born Jewish; hence there would be no reason for stating that this law also applies to a proselyte. Rather this is an example of where Israel must enforce the Torah not only upon fellow Jews, but equally upon a Gentile. Why is this? The answer to this question is that the Gentile who is sinning in Israel is not only acting in a way that injures himself spiritually, but is taking a life of another, namely his child. Therefore, HaShem demands that Israel steps in to save the life of the child.
If the man was not stopped and takes the life of the child, not only is he to be stoned with a stone. Please notice that the word “stone” is in the singular. This is to instruct that those who take part in the stoning are only those who have the capability to throw a stone as hard as necessary to kill a man with one blow and that each participant should throw his stone in such a manner. Why was this? The answer is that the guilty one would die quickly and his suffering should not be prolonged by man. In other words, Israel is only to carry out the death penalty and any suffering is to be administered by HaShem and not man.
Please note that the next three verses speak about the man being cut off from his people. In this context the phrase has to do with an eternal punishment administered by HaShem.
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