In this week’s parashah it is said (Vayikra 19:1-2) vayidabeir HaShem el Moshe leimor dabeir el kol adas binei Yisroel viamarta aleihem kedoshim tihyu ki kadosh ani HaShem Elokeichem, HaShem spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the entire assembly of the children of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for holy am I, HaShem, your G-d. Rashi quotes the Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah 24:5) that states: this portion of the Torah was said by Hakhel (in a group) as the majority of the essentials of the Torah are dependant on this portion. One must wonder what the meaning of this statement is. Prior to performing certain mitzvos we recite the following words: “the performance of the mitzvah should be worthy before HaShem as if one has fulfilled it in all its details, implications, and intentions, as well as the six hundred and thirteen commandments that are dependant upon it.” Thus, it appears that all mitzvos are dependant on each other, so what is so unique about this portion of the Torah that it was said in a group?
Performing a Mitzvah Demonstrates Love for a Fellow Jew
To answer this question, we must examine the verse that instructs us to be holy. Rashi, based on the Toras Kohanim, interprets the verse to mean that one must distance himself from immoral relationships, as wherever we find a safeguard from immorality, there we find holiness. The Ramban disagrees and writes that the Torah is instructing us that one should not even engage in permitted activities for the sake of indulging. Rather, one should restrain himself as much as possible and limit himself to what is absolutely necessary in the realm of materialism. Assuming that one can adopt the approach of Rashi and the approach of the Ramban, we can better understand why this portion of the Torah was said in a group. It is said (Vayikra 19:18) lo sikom vilo sitor es binei amecha viahavta lireiacha kamocha ani HaShem, you shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your fellow as yourself – I am HaShem. The Toras Kohanim states that Rabbi Akiva said that the words viahavta lireiacha kamocha are a klal gadol baTorah, a great rule in the Torah. It is written that this statement can be interpreted to mean that whenever one is engaged in a mitzvah, somehow that mitzvah incorporates the mitzvah of loving your fellow as yourself.
Engaging in Immoral Behavior Causes One to Remain Alone
It is said (Mishlei 18:1) lisaavah yivakeish nifrad bichol tushia yisgala, one who removes himself to court desire will be exposed in every Torah enclave. Rabbeinu Bachye (Introduction to Parashas Kedoshim) writes that this means that if one is constantly pursuing his desires, he will ultimately find himself to be alone. People will flee from him because of his inappropriate behavior. It would follow, then, that one who refrains from immoral actions and distances himself from indulging in physical pleasures will be embraced by his fellow man. When one performs a mitzvah, he is clearly distancing himself from inappropriate behavior and he is engaged in holy pursuits. Thus, whereas the immoral person remains alone, the holy person is part of the Holy Congregation, i.e. the Jewish People who serve HaShem with fear and love. It is for this reason that when one performs a mitzvah, he is incorporating the mitzvah of viahavta lireiacha kamocha. Now we can understand why the parashah of Kedoshim, which commences with the laws of holiness, was said in a group. The only way to be a part of the Jewish People is by performing mitzvos and attaining a level of holiness.
The Shabbos Connection
Every week HaShem is gracious to us and bestows upon us His Holy Day of Shabbos. Shabbos is a time when we are free from materialism and we can perform mitzvos and involve our families and friends in holiness. HaShem should allow us to all be a part of the Jewish People, and when we are all together as one, we will witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.
ממרח – Smoothing
To What Does this Prohibition Apply?
The Poskim debate whether the melacha of smoothing applies to food items. The Rema rules that one may follow the lenient view that exempts food from this prohibition, but nevertheless המחמיר תבוא עליו ברכה, one who is strict shall be blessed; i.e. it is praiseworthy to follow the stringent view that includes food in the prohibition. Thus, it is praiseworthy to avoid smoothing out any thick food substance.
However, this stringency applies only where one wants the food to appear smooth for decorative purposes, such as icing a cake or smoothing out an egg salad. In a case where one intends merely to spread the food substance over a large area, but does not care whether the surface appears smooth i.e. spreading butter on bread, there is no basis for stringency. Accordingly, one is allowed to spread any firm food substance, i. e. butter, jam, cheese, egg or tuna salad on a slice of bread, so long as one does not care to make the surface appear smooth.