Kedoshim

[Based on a shiur given by Rav Shalom Rosner]
Vayikra 19:3 states:
אִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ וְאֶת שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ אֲנִי ה’ אֱ-לֹקיכֶם
You shall fear every man his mother and his father, and you shall keep My Sabbaths: I am Hashem your God.

Rav Yosef Nechemia Kornitzer connects this passuk at the beginning of the the Parsha to the famous Mishna in Avos 3:1. In the Mishna, Akavya ben Mahalal’el states that if we look at 3 things then we will not come to sin: “Know where you came from, where you are going, and in front of whom you will stand in judgment.”

Akavya says (i) we came from a tipa (a drop/nothing), (ii) we are going to the grave and (iii) we will eventually stand before the Melech Malchei HaMelachim.
It is a scary Mishna that really makes us consider our mortality.
But the same 3 questions can be asked, and be looked at in a far more positive light. Sometimes we need to think of the above 3 questions as the Mishna in Avos does, focusing mostly on the lowliness of man (shiflus shel adam), and other times we can try to answer the questions by appreciating our humanity and take chizzuk from it…

So looking at the questions in a more positive light:

Me’ayin ba’ata / From where do you come? From the Avos. Look at our rich heritage (Se’u es rosh kol adas bnei yisrael l’mishpichosam l’veis avosam = read in drush way, the pasuk is saying: Lift yourself by having pride in seeing the family you come from). The first part of the pasuk in Kedoshim is about the mitzvah of Kibud Av Va’Eim, and answers this first question. We come from great parents, and they should be appreciated and respected.

U’le’an ata holech / Where are you going? A Jew is supposed to live a certain way and hopefully earn Olam HaBa. We believe this world is a pruzdor/hallway to the next world.The middle part of the pasuk is about Shabbos. Shabbos is referred to as me’in olam haba – a taste of the World to Come. All week we look forward to Shabbos. The question of ‘where are we going,’ can be answered that every new week we are going into Shabbos, and by doing so we are achieving a piece of Olam haba b’olam hazeh, and will B’ezrat Hashem merit the full Olam HaBa after 120 years. Shabbos must be observed to its fullest, and by keeping Shabbos we: (A) benefit from its incredible sweetness in this world and is a reminder of the sweetness that lies ahead for us in Olam HaBa, and (B) we help ourselves earn that very Olam HaBa.

Lifnei mi atah atid litein din v’cheshbon / Before Whom will you stand in judgment? Ultimately, after 120, we will stand before Hashem. But we are certainly not meant to only encounter Him in death. The best way to be inspired in life is also to think about Hashem and all He has created – this leads toahavas Hashem. If we always have Hashem in front of us then we will be less likely to sin. This is the last part of the passuk – “Ani Hashem elokeichem.” By recognizing Hashem’s hand in our daily lives and trying to forge an ever-deepening relationship, then we will strive to bring him only nachas, and use the life He has given us to its fullest potential.

אִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ וְאֶת שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ אֲנִי ה’ אֱ-לֹקיכֶם

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