By: Rabbi Osher Jungreis
Many people will tell you that while they may not be observant, they are spiritual. What exactly does that connote? Does it mean meditating? Vegetarianism? Jogging?
It is none of the above, for all the aforementioned are self-focused. In this week’s parsha, we discover the meaning of spirituality. Kedoshim t’heeyou lee – “You shall be holy unto Me, for I, the L-rd Your G-d am holy…” (Leviticus, 19:2) is the proclamation of G-d.
What is the path to holiness? The parsha details for us the steps that we must take to attain that goal. Therefore, most of the mitzvoth of the Torah are mentioned in this parsha, for it is through the adherence to the mitzvot that we become holy and spiritual. These mitzvoth range from revering parents to loving our fellow man as ourselves, to refraining from taking vengeance or holding a grudge, to being on guard against gossip, to being kind to the stranger, to paying the day worker his wages on that self-same day, to keeping the Sabbath and not worshiping or fashioning idols, and many more.
These mitzvot are so critical to Jewish life that every Jew – Kol Adas Bnei Yisroel, had to be present when they were taught (Leviticus 19:2). Another reason advanced by our sages for teaching these commandments to the entire congregation is to underscore the fact that sanctity cannot be attained through a hermit-like existence, but only through reaching out to others in chesed – kindness, thereby bringing them closer to HaShem.
One of the mitzvoth mentioned in this parsha is “not to place a stumbling block in front of a blind person “(Leviticus, 19:14). This means that we must be careful not to give misleading advice. We also have to insure that we do not have hidden agendas and that our motivations for giving advice are pure.
The question that must occur to all of us however, is why does the Torah not simply state that we are not permitted to mislead others. Why this convoluted passage–“putting a stumbling block in front of a blind man?”
The Torah wants to impart to us the seriousness and the importance of trust. Even as no sane individual would countenance tripping a blind person or allowing him to walk in front of a moving vehicle, so too, misleading someone who is unaware, is equally deplorable. We all know how painful it is to discover that we have been betrayed by people in whom we placed our trust, so we should take care not to do this to others. All relationships are built on trust. Neither individuals, nor families, nor societies can survive when trust is missing. When we come to the understanding that to deceive or mislead someone is no different than pushing a blind man down, then we will surely be sensitive to every word that we pronounce.
The path to spirituality and sanctity as outlined in this parsha is to strive for discipline, for moral and ethical excellence and to emulate the attributes of G-d. Even as He is compassionate, so must we aim to be compassionate; even as He is forgiving, so must we must aim to be forgiving, and that is the meaning of “You shall be holy unto Me, for I the L-rd your G-d am holy.”