The second parshah we will be reading this Shabbat is Kedoshim, a parshah packed mitzvot!!
Moshe taught all the laws directly to the whole nation. The Parshah actually starts relating how Hashem requires every man and women to be holy in all aspects of life (Vayikra 19:2)! This means refraining from doing things forbidden by the Torah!
It then progresses relating the mitzvah to ‘Respect’ Parents Vayikra 19:3). If we cast our minds back to the 10 commandments in parshat Yitro, there was the commandment to ‘Honour your parents (Shemot 20:12).’ Both may be similar but respecting parents should mean that a child should not contradict his parents or corroborate them. The mitzvah of respecting parents is huge, we see in the Tanach how one of the 12 tribes, Naftali, always used to address his father Yaakov, in a specially courteous manner as if addressing a king (Sota 13). Therefore his sayings were pleasant to his father who lauded him, ‘he gives good words.’
We see how bad a punishment one can get for not honoring his parents, as Yaakov was away from his parents for 22 years, 20 years of it with Lavan and an extra two years encamping in the land of Succot, in retribution, Hashem punished him by him believing Yosef had died for 22 years (Kiddushin 31)!!
The Parshah then tells us ‘not to steal.’ We see in parshat Vayera how Avraham always muzzled his animals to prevent them from grazing in fields which were not his (Shekalim 13).
Then the Torah orders us not to deny and then swear falsely and also relates the prohibition of taking a false oath (Vayikra 19:11/12). Then the Parshah stresses how important it is not to withhold another person’s money, not to do robbery and not to delay paying a laborers wage (Vayikra 19:13)! If someone withholds his workers salary, his transgressions is likened to actually taking the workers soul from him, one could be going over many prohibitions by withholding an employees wage (Bava Mesia 60b).
Next up, the Torah orders us ‘not to put a stumbling block in front of a blind person,’ this in fact means that one should not mislead someone who is ignorant, for example, giving bad advice on purpose (Vayikra 19:14)!
The parshah then relates how a judge should always act justly and relates how a person should always try and give another the benefit of the doubt. The Talmud actually says that if a person gives someone the benefit of the doubt, Hashem in turn would give him the benefit of the doubt, as G-d works measure for measure (Shabbat 127a).
The Torah then relates the prohibition against Talebearing (Vayikra 19:16) as this causes quarrels and Hashem loves peace. Then the Parshah urges us not to stand by idly when a Jew is in danger of his life. We saw in Megillat Esther how Queen Esther risked her life by making a request of Achashvairosh which in turn rescued the whole Jewish nation (Megillah 15/16).
We are then instructed not to hate another Jew in secret (Vayikra 19:17). This was exemplified by Yosef’s brothers, who did not hide their disliking of him initially by throwing him in the pit, as we learned in the book of Bereishit.
Then the reading discusses ways that we should rebuke others for not keeping to the Torah laws. In the book of Mishlei there is verse that says, ‘do not rebuke a scoffer lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you (Mishlei 9:8).
In the book of Samuel, we see how King Saul’s son, Jonathan rebuked his father when it was necessary, as Saul was trying to kill David, Jonathan rebuked his father telling him he was wrong in what he was doing (Shmuel I:chapter 20).
We then learn about the mitzvah to not avenge and not to bear a grudge against a fellow Jew (Vayikra 19:18). The Torah then stresses to us that we should love every Jew. We see in Parshat Baahalotacha, when Joshua accused two Jews (Eldad and Meidad) of Prophesying that Moshe’s death was impending, Moshe exclaimed, ‘Do you think I need to have my honor defended? I have only one wish – that all of Israel should be prophets like me! (Bamidbar 11:29)’
The Parshah then relates the prohibition against mixing different species such as crossbreeding animals and the prohibition of mixing wool and linen together. Also the Torah stresses how we should not crossbreed animals and to not sow two different seeds together in a field (Vayikra 19:19).
More commandments then come, as we learn about ‘Orlah,’ the commandment not to benefit from the fruits of a tree for three years after planting it (Vayikra 19:23). We then learn not to eat of blood and to not do witchcraft and divination. Then we are commanded to respect a Torah scholar or an aged man, for example, standing up when they walk in a room.
The Parshah then talks about the punishments if a person takes part in a forbidden relationship (Vayikra 20: 10/21). The Torah concludes with laws of keeping kosher and re stressing how important it is to stay holy.
This weeks Haftorah comes from the book of Ezekiel, Chapter 22, which relates the prophesy after the Jews commited many forbidden acts which is discouraged in the parshah.