The end of Sifira-
Anchuldikts and please pardon the lateness of this week’s Toirah ober the Oisvorfer is just back from yet another Simcha here in the Yimay Hasfira when we recall how Rebbe Akiva’s special talmidim all forgot about the special mitzvah we will read about in Parshas Kedoishim this coming shabbis and died for not giving each other the right kovod (repsect). Ober ershtens, we have to get through Parshas Achray Mois which begins with the death of two of Aharoin’s four boys.
Is it the Oisvorfer’s imagination or is Sefira and its observance mamish done and kaput? How far are we from weddings and bar mitzva’s on Tisha Be’av mamish? Ver veyst? Altz kint (as a young child) and even until the Oisvorfer’s mid 30’s, he recalls that the observance of sefira was taka strict. We taka mourned for Rebbe Akiva. We didn’t listen to music and caterers went on vacation: there were no weddings, engagement parties, shul dinners or any other festivities. Ober in hyntige tzytin (in our days), a nechtiger tug, it’s epes punkt farkert (just the opposite) and in this third week of the sefira, the Oisvorfer has already been to three functions. And with all the sefira exemptions including the days leading to Rosh Choidesh, Roish Choidesh, Yom Hoatzmout, Lag Bo’omer, the days following, the three days leading to Shavuois, the allowance to make a lechaim anytime and other, the observance of sefira and its restrictions is down to about 14 days. Nu, efsher we should count sefira ober without a brocho on nights that we attend a simcha, ver veyst. In any event, it’s avada always good to attend a Simcha and mazel tov!
This week, mamish like last, we’ll be listening to yet another double header: this coming shabbis, as we listen to Parshas Achrei Mois and Kedoishim, one could get the impression that these two parshios in the heylige Toirah are primarily about sexual relations, all of the forbidden variety. One wouldn’t be all that wrong. There is avada other content including the great and often neglected mitzvah of V’ohavta lerayacho komoycho (loving your brother like yourself) and every word of the heylige Toirah is taka holy, meaningful and special ober chances are that none of it will chap you quite the same way, and the major point of both parshios is that one shouldn’t be chapping where one isn’t supposed to. Shoin and veyter! In both, the heylige Toirah presents the laws of arayos (forbidden sexual relationships). It outlines in great detail all the familial relationships which render sexual contact forbidden, as well as other forbidden relations, including homosexuality (Rebbe’s seemingly exempt), relations with animals (especially vilde chayis, if you chap), and so on. Acharei-Mois (Vayiko 18) specifically delineates the actual prohibitions of arayois and warns us not to violate them. And if you want to get scared straight, read and learn Parshas Kedoshim (chapter 20) wherein the Toirah prescribes the punishment for each of the violations listed in the preceding parsha, and then some. It’s not a pretty picture and zicher you’d be much better off going home to the eishes chayil, no matter how challenging the thought, if you chap. Or maybe not!
Just for educational purposes, you should know that the first three Aliyois of Achrei Mois are all about Yoim Kippur and the Avoida (the service) of the koihain godol on that day, but is that really vichtig here in early May? Nu, after we’re told not to eat blood – the parsha goes off onto a new direction and instructs us in the final section of the parsha (chapter 18) and introduces the prohibitions known as arayos (forbidden sexual relations). Both Achrei Mois and Kedoishim have lots of detailed discussion on issues of sexuality and intimacy. In methodical fashion, the heylige Toirah delineates the forbidden liaisons between humans.
Kedoishim has 13 ‘ah-says’ (positive commandments), that’s 13 of 51 total mitzvois in this parsha alone. Included in that count is, as was mentioned above, the great mitzvah of Ve’ohavta lerayacho Komoycho (loving your friend like yourself) and avada you all know how important a concept this is. Sadly, the opposite is more often what is practiced. Interestingly enough Rashi quotes Rebbe Akiva who said: this is klal godol batoira (a very important Toirah principle) and ironically enough, who knew better since in these sefira days, we recall that 24,000 of his students died, seemingly because they didn’t’ really practice what their Rebbe was preaching. Nu, that for another day. Let’s get back to Arayos because avada kuli-alme-loi-p’ligi (no one would argue in Gemora lingo), this topic is always sadly relevant, and, of course, one that you could all use some chazorra (review) on. Let’s go tiffer, if you chap. dive right in.
Avada we know that the customs of the Mitzrim (Egyptians) were among the most morally decadent in the world and the deeds of the Canaanites were the most abominable. To illuminate this point, the parsha continues to discuss the laws of immorality and forbidden relationships that were the pernicious hallmark of these indigenous cultures. We are warned not to follow or perform the practices of the peoples of Mitzrayim (Egypt) and Canaan or to follow their traditions but, “to carry out My laws and safeguard My decrees.” What were those customs and if they were so girferlich and disgusting, why did the RBSO keep us there for 210 years? It stands to reason that after so much time, the Hebrews would epes pick up and efsher (maybe) even enjoy a number of these customs, who wouldn’t? Ver Veyst?
Mistama (likely), this was of course all part of the grand master plan leading to the giula (redemption), the heylige Toirah and of course Pesach which we celebrate each year by packing our clothing and flying South, East or right back to the desert where it all began.
Incest is defined and prohibited. Additional offenses include having a minuvildike relationship with one’s own father or uncle. Homosexuality, bestiality and child sacrifice are prohibited. So far nisht geifrelich and to a normal person, these prohibitions all seemingly make sense. Avada, some of you purists are wondering about lesbian relationships; also forbidden? Nu, it’s taka not discussed in this parsha…and as to watching two lesbians, mistama this is also ossur. Bestiality is expressly forbidden to both men and women. Seemingly, the sexual practices that the RBSO says are forbidden were performed by the Canaanite nations. It’s for this type of chazeerish behavior that the RBSO decided that He’s driving those nations out of the land that the BNY are about to enter. Anyway, what taka happens if chas v’sholom, we violate any of these laws and find ourselves in the middle of such a forbidden relationship(s)? Nu, read Parshas Kedoishim which provides a long litany of punishments awaiting those oisvorf chazerrim that have not listened to the warning.
The heylige Toirah tells us that it’s mamish forbidden to engage in incestuous marriages and relationships between certain blood relatives. And if you good for nothings would taka open a Chumish, and read Perek yud ches (chapter 18), you’ll find a list of the many forbidden matings. Bazman Hazeh (nowadays), this is only a partial list as Toirah she’ baal peh (Oral Tradition) has greatly expanded it and supplies a supplemental list as a geder (fence) around the Toirah. Sadly for many of you, such a list is mamish essential and seemingly, even that fence isn’t doing the trick. Perhaps a brick wall is in order.
As expected, not all agree that incest is so giferlich and the Seforno suggests that marriage to one’s closer relatives is more than logical, and taka, this is how it’s done in middle America ad hayoim hazeh. They do, after all, share similar values, backgrounds, and personalities and are these not the perfect ingredients to produce wonderful children? He brings proof from Amrom. Who’s that? Oy vey! Did you forget that Amrom went and married his Tanata (aunt) Yoicheved? And who came out of this union? No lesser personalities and giants among the Yiddin than Moishe, Aharoin, and Miriam, each a great leader, perhaps the greatest we’ve ever had. If so, what could be so terrible were we each to start giving our Tantas and other blood relatives a second look? And taka why does the heylige Toirah forbid these?
Ober he answers his own query azoy: such relationships would be ok if the intentions of the couple were solely for noble purposes. Nebech however, human nature makes this scenario incredibly rare. Let’s be real: did you ever look at your hot forbidden relative and say that you wanted to bed her leshaim shomayim (for heaven’s sake)? Along with the Rambam and the Ibn Ezra, the Seforno explains that the RBSO ideally prefers that people be completely focused on and dedicated to serving Him. Because we are human (or less), He had no choice but to permit marital relations. However, in an effort to minimize them (sexual relations), the Toirah forbids relations with all of a person’s close relatives. The logic is that because he (the man) is so frequently surrounded by them (his family members), that regular contact could easily lead to constant involvement in our base human desires. And as such desires would zicher distract us from focusing on elevating ourselves and achieving our true spiritual purposes, the Toirah therefore prohibited these relationships.
Ober (but), the Ramban questions this explanation. He points out that a man is biblically permitted to marry as many wives as he wants, something which should clearly be forbidden if the Toirah’s goal was to minimize his involvement in marital relations in order to free him to pursue spiritual endeavors. He argues that it’s illogical that marrying one’s daughter or sister should be punished so severely when somebody else may marry 1000 wives with impunity. As a result, the Ramban suggests that the entire concept of the forbidden relationships falls into the category known as חוקים, commands which seem to defy human logic and which we perform only because the RBSO commanded us to do so, even though we are unable to understand the rationale behind them. Let’s also keep in mind that He scared the living daylights out of us with a very detailed description of what can happen to us if we violate these.
Not surprisingly, we’re also taught that it’s mamish osur (verboten) for a person to marry his wife’s sister. Of course, if the shvester (sister) is very hot, one could claim a hardship, if you chap and ask for an exemption. Interestingly enough, though most of the laws given by the RBSO on these forbidden relationships are given as Chukim (laws defying logic), for this particular relationship (with the sister), the Toirah uses a term meaning co-wife- when telling us why it’s ossur. Why is this particular relationship singled out?
Says The Ramban: that the RBSO taka did not tell us why for most of these chukim- isn’t it enough for you oisvorfs that the RBSO said no? Who said you’re entitled to ask such questions? Did you create the world, split the sea and perform miracles? Ober the RBSO does tell us ‘why not’ for you to marry your own sister in law (in addition). Says the Ramban: that it’s inappropriate to make two sisters into co-wives of the same husband. Taka why? Because sisters are supposed to love each other, but vying for the attention of the same man will lead to jealousy and worse. Mistama you’ve seen rivalries between sisters before, even when they’re married to different husbands; can you imagine what would taka go on under one roof? Avada, for the man, what could be better?
Ober what to do if the man taka falls in love with his sister-in-law? Should he suffer from love pangs all his life and visualize sister #2 while being married to sister #1? Nu, all is not lost: because she (sister in law) is only forbidden to him while the first wife is alive. Ober should he be so fortunate that she passes away of natural causes, if you chap, or if he somehow finds an efficient method without getting chapped, then he can taka marry her. Ok- got all that? Let’s chazir (review).
You cannot marry 2 sisters, whether one at a time or both at a time. You can however marry sister number two if sister number one is dead. Avada just about now you’re murmuring to yourselves and saying hey hey hey: how did Yankiff Ovenu marry 2 full sisters (Ruchil and Lea) and 2 half-sisters (Bilha and Zilpa). Or was it two sisters and a half-sister of each sister? Who remembers, but one thing is zicher: he had all 4 of them and they were all very much alive at the time. And didn’t these unions lead to the birth of all the heylige and brother loving Shvotim (tribes) and to the BNY? Could the “House of Israel” have been built on one of the forbidden relationships listed in our parsha? Say it’s not so please. Seemingly, others were wondering about this same issue and there are other theories as to why Yankiff’s marriage was kosher but what you’re plotting is not. Let’s learn.
How did Yankiff Oveenu taka marry four sisters? Wasn’t he, along with the other Ovois (forefathers), commanded to keep the seven noachide laws? And did the Ovois keep the heylige Toirah before it was given? Nu, since we opened the topic, let’s taka go tiffer (deeper) into the sugya. It’s mamish a shtikel conundrum: both the mishna and heylige gemorah clearly state that Avraham Oveenu kept not just the entire Toirah but also Toirah she-baal peh (oral tradition) – (see Kiddushin 82a, Gemarra Yoma 28b). He knew what to keep through ruach hakoidesh (divine prophecy). Yet there are several examples of unzere (our) Ovois (and others) violating the Toirah. Cases that avada come to mind include; Yankiff, Kayin married his sister, and Amram married his tanta (aunt) Yoicheved. So did they keep the entire Toirah or not? What’s p’shat?
Nu, There are two approaches here; one is to say that they didn’t and deal with the mishna and gemorah above some other way and the other is to say that they did keep the Toirah but the above cases are exceptions. It’s like most of you: you’re basically orthodox and practicing except when you’re not! Shoin- we got that settled.
Says The Rema (Rav Mosher Isserlis): that only Avraham kept the Toirah but not the others. According to this p’shat, we can understand how Yankiff married the sisters. The problem here is that not many accepted his answer, so let’s go veyter.
Says the Ramban (Bereishis 26;5) that the Ovois only kept the entire Toirah in Eretz Yisroel, and since Yankiff married the two sisters (actually four) outside of Israel, all was kosher. In other words: these laws of not marrying sisters are only in the land.
The Maharal rejects this approach and says that the prohibition to marry two sisters has no inherent connection to the Land of Israel so why should Yankiff’s whereabouts affect this? Of course, he, like many others, answers his own question by suggesting that like most of you, the Ovois only kept the mitzvois ah-say (positive) but not the lo-sa-says (negative mitzvois);. And since the Toirah was still hundreds of years off, the Ovois didn’t hear about the lo-sah-say not to marry two or four sisters, for example.
But listen to this gevaldige thought: We could say that Ovois takah kept all the mitzvos. But what about the cases we listed where they didn’t? Nu, this also has an answer, in fact a few. First is the Ridbaz, who says that first of all, only the Ovois kept the Toirah and that already eliminates Kayin and/or Amram as potential violators. And the reason that Yankiff could marry two or four sisters is based on the dictum that they were mi’gayear (converted) to Judaism in order to marry Yankiff. And as we all know or should know that a geyr (convert) is considered like a newborn baby, and as such they are not considered halachically related to their former family. Accordingly, Ruchil and Leah were no longer sisters and thus there was no problem for Yankiff to marry them. Wow!!
Another blow away p’shat comes from the Or HaChaim (Bereishis 49;3) who writes that our Ovois taka kept the entire Toirah, but in these isolated instances where it appears that they didn’t, there were mitigating circumstances. These were cases where they received through ruach hakoidesh (divine prophecy) not to keep certain. In other words, such prophecy trumps the Toirah, at least temporarily. Avada most of you are already thinking how to use this excuse the next time you get chapped by the eishes chayil with one of your hot shiksa girlfriends or worse, maybe with her own sister (see above) ober Raboyseyee- you are not the Ovis and avada you cannot use such an excuse. You are but a bum and an oisvorf. Of course we have to remember that all this happened before the written law where one could taka come up with an excuse.
Grada, this p’shat makes good sense. Just as our forefathers who hadn’t received the Toirah saw with divine prophecy that they had to keep certain mitzvois, they could also see that they were exempt for others. Avada, when it comes to women and the desire to marry sisters or even one’s own aunt, such prophecy was taka helpful. And if you think that only an oisvorf would dare say such a thing- you’re dead wrong. Because this thinking is also confirmed by other luminaries including the Da’as Zekeinim and the Nefesh HaChaim who state exactly that. Examples of this prophecy to deviate include of course the marrying of two sisters and two concubines in order to build Klal Yisrael. Is that a beautiful p’shat or what? This kind of forward thinking should have you yearning to run back to yeshiva to learn even more and tiffer (deeper).
The Bottom line: it’s all quite simple. All this talk and theorizing about Yankiff and his four veyber (wives) mamish was before matan toirah. Ober (but) here in the parsha where the RBSO says no, it’s following the receipt of the Toirah. And the same holds true for Amrom who married his own aunt. Gishmak!
And don’t even think for a second that it’s taka forbidden to marry the sister in law now that the toirah say so but efsher a quickie or even an affair is mutir (ok). Raboyseyee: The RBSO knew just what chazerrim you are and quickly closed that loophole, in the same possik mamish. It states clearly that any relations with his wife’s sister – “to uncover her nakedness beside the other (his wife).” is not kosher. In fact, it’s not even kosher, if she keeps her clothing on, if you chap. But the reason for the prohibition is, as we learned above from the Ramban: “For it is not proper that one take a woman and her sister (as wives), making them into rivals, for they should love one another and not distress each other.”
Also forbidden: a man may not marry or even make sexual advances to his mother or stepmother (even after his father’s death), his daughter or daughter-in-law, his sister, half-sister or sister-in-law (even after his brother’s death – except in the special case where his brother died childless, in which case he may have to marry her or perform the ceremony of chalitza to release her).
Why are unions between close relatives off-limits? Some may believe it’s to prevent genetic disorders caused by inbreeding. Ober it’s clear from looking at the expansive list of no-no’s that the toirah wasn’t really concerned about such issues. Avada we know that genetic risks are not increased when marrying a stepmother, a sister-in-law, or the wife of one’s uncle and still it’s a no- no. A man may not marry his mother-in-law or grandmother-in-law even after he divorces his wife or his wife dies. Basically, the mother-in-law status (but not always the relationship) stays intact forever: once a shviger, always a shviger and it’s hands off, no matter how hot.
According to the Rambam, the heylige Toirah proscribed intimate relations – including marriage – with close relatives because of the regularity of contact with them. Had the Toirah permitted relations with relatives, people would engage excessively in intercourse, and, as the Rambam writes earlier, the Toirah seeks “to inculcate the lesson that we ought to limit sexual intercourse altogether, hold it in contempt, and desire it very rarely.” To this end, the Toirah proscribed relations with those who would otherwise be available for this purpose at all times. And the Toirah forbade marriage with these relatives, too, in order to render these relatives entirely and permanently forbidden, such that relations with them would not be desired at all. Seemingly, most of the Neshay Chayil follow the Rambam and taka avoid sexual intercourse with family members- especially their husbands.
The Akeidas Yitzchak dismisses the Rambam’s approach, claiming that the natural revulsion towards intercourse with relatives is innate, rather than a result of the Toirah’s strict prohibitions. He observes that there is hardly a nation on earth among whom such conduct has become standard. We might draw evidence from the disturbing incident recorded in the heylige Gemara (Sanhedrin 103b) of Amon, the wicked king of Yehuda, who engaged in relations with his mother. She asked him, “Do you receive enjoyment from the place from where you left?” Her son responded, “Am I doing this for any reason other than to anger my Creator?” This conversation would suggest that such relationships are naturally repulsive, even for those who have cast from themselves the yoke of the divine command. He also suggests that the Canaanite people suffered from some mental disturbance that resulted in this unnatural conduct. Veyter.
Though Parshas Kedoishim is one of the shortest in the entire toirah and only 5 are shorter, its contains the most mitzvois in the gantze (entire) Toirah. Halt Kupp (pay close attention) Raboyseyee because, of the 51 mitzvois only 13 are ah-says (positive) while 38 are loi sa-says- yikes. And since most of you have trouble with this category, I find that once again I have to focus this shiur on a topic we discussed many times. Kimat (nearly) the entire Perek Chof (20) is, as is this parsha review at least so far, devoted to only one topic- the punishment allotted to sinners and violators of these forbidden sexual relations. And listen to this: the punishment for these relations is not the dog house, flowers or even jewelry: we’re talking death mamish- the big one!!! There’s mamish an obligation to execute those who desecrate the sanctity of the nation through certain acts. Efsher you remember (a few pages back) that the Yiddin were commanded to distance themselves from the behavior of the Mitzrim ( Egyptians) and the Canaanites, primarily because their loose sexual attitudes, behavior and their own lewd actions contaminated the land, causing it to spew forth from its midst, those who committed them and that’s why the land was given to the BNY. Nu..shoin ginig (enough) of this scary talk; let’s taka move on but first……………
Some say that taka the reason that the RBSO gave us a bit of time to digest the prohibitions listed in Achrei Mois was because we avada know from the heylige gemroa the dictum which says azoy: “ein onshim elah im kein mazhirim” – A punitive action is not meted out for the transgression of a prohibition unless there is a prior scriptural warning. Others (oisvorfs and others) suggest that the RBSO wanted to give the Yiddin some time to wean themselves off the myriad such relationships they were embroiled in and gave the Yiddin over Pesach to clean up their acts. Maybe its taka an extension of the pesach cleaning or efsher it’s what’s meant by ad sheyodo masehges (as far as the hand reaches), if you chap.
Says Rashi, commenting on the opening mitzvah (command) to be holy (Kedoshim tiheyu) – suggests that the term denotes and implies separation in matters of forbidden sexual unions. Maybe that’s taka why a number of conservative minded politicians are trying to bust up the unions, ver veyst? In fact Rashi seems to limit his explanation of this mitzvoh of kedoshim tiheyu to the area of arayos (sexual matters) and efsher we can kler that even back in the pre internet and other schmutz print days, that the heylige Rashi understood that people are…well, just people.
In fact, The Ramban, in mamish one of the more famous arguments he had with Rashi, says that the words “You shall be Kedoshim” have nothing to do with illicit sexual acts. Instead, Kedoshim Tihiyu (You shall be holy) is referring to perfectly permissible activities. He says that we need to sanctify ourselves by withdrawing from that which is permissible; avada easier said than done, if you chap. In other words: The Ramban says that it’s a more encompassing requirement, enjoining us to exercise restraint. And of course we all know or should that the Rambam always preached a middle of the road approach of not too much of anything and of course most of the neshay chayil hold like the Rambam.
And listen to this: Rabbeinu Bachya connects the end of Achrei Mois and its list of forbidden sexual relationships, to the end of this week’s parsha and suggests that it’s in this context, that we must also understand the command to be holy. He says, the Toirah commands each spouse, both husband and wife, to maintain pure thoughts while having permitted relations. He also emphasizes that both men and women are included in this requirement, since, as the midrash, cited by Rashi, tells us, this parsha was said to the entire people. Nu- it can be suggested that this requirement to have pure thoughts is efsher harder than staying away from the forbidden relationships altogether. I mean let’s be real: when was the last time you had pure thoughts while engaged in vilde relations with the eishes chayil? Moreover when was the last time you had vilde relation with the eishes chayil altogether? Is this item on the menu? Efsher he meant that the thoughts should be pure with others and avada loi olanu, that would be an easy mitzvah to uphold. Avada he didn’t say that last part…just thinking out loud, if you chap.
Wait…he’s not done discussing relations and holiness and since the heylige shabbis is coming, let’s taka pay attention to what else he says: eshser you can be mekayim a mitzvah mamish tomorrow night just by doing what you normally want to do). Says Rabbeinu Bachya azoy: we should be maintaining holiness even within permitted relations. And what does that taka mean? Thus, for example, the reference to observing Shabbis is brought here (in the parsha early on) because the main time for such relations is on Friday night. When the Toirah tells us not to turn to idols (19:4), he continues: it is also a veiled reference to the prohibition of gazing at women, and that the subsequent mention, in that verse, of the prohibition of making molten gods is a veiled reference to thinking of another woman while having relations with one’s wife. What? We shouldn’t be thinking or imaging ourselves with others while being intimate with our own eishes chayil? Is this even possible beyond shono reshoina (first year of marriage) or earlier? Oy vey.
Grada, it shouldn’t go unmentioned that taka we find other examples in our scriptures, that avoidah zarah – (worshiping another God) – is likened to having relations with someone forbidden to us. We can’t skip ahead too far but later in the Toirah we will taka learn that Bilum advised Balak to station beautiful women outside their tents in order to tempt the Jewish men and that’s why they taka call it the oldest trick in the book and hey- didn’t Tamar entrap Yihuda that way? When the Jewish men approached these women to engage in relations with these hot shiksa’s (not necessarily forbidden), they were told that they must first worship Pe’or (no cash or Mun required). The men nebech succumbed, and the RBSO got mamish mad as shell and killed hundreds of thousands- yikes. Hopefully forbidden relations with those on the list isn’t as giferlicjh as avoida zoro. In fact, Says Rav Soloveitchik that while arayos (forbidden relation) by itself, and avoidah zoro by itself, are each terrible crimes, neither by itself poses a threat to the continued existence of the Jewish people. However, when the two are combined, they constitute a lifestyle of completely unbridled behavior, a lifestyle which is in complete contradiction to all that the Toirah stands for, and, thus merits immediate retribution. Avada one should be careful not to mix the two- farshteyst (understand)?
Avada one shouldn’t think that this is meant for men only and that only men are such vilde chayis and worse. Says the The Kesav Soifer: that the midrash cited by Rashi, mentioned above, which says that this parsha was said to the entire people, is telling us that even though, when Moishe taught the rest of the Toirah, he taught it to Aharoin four times, to his sons three times, to the elders twice, and to the entire nation only once (see Eruvin 54b). ober (but), in this instance he taught it only once, to the entire nation together. Although the Kesav Sofer explains this phenomenon in his own way, perhaps we can explain that Moishe did this to emphasize that the entire nation, not only the kohanim, are enjoined to be lead a holy lifestyle. Although the kohein has an extra level of holiness as embodied in the laws surrounding his service in the Temple, still, the entire people were charged, at Har Seenai, to be a holy nation,
Kedoishim ends the arayos section (20:26) by reiterating the prohibitions against non-kosher food and concluding “V’Hiyisem li k’doshim” (and you shall be Holy for Me). What emerges then is that through controlling one’s desires in surrender to the Divine Will while engaging in the two basic acts Man shares in common with the animals – eating and sex- one sanctifies himself by elevating even these seemingly mundane acts. Indeed, the RambaM, by including precisely the prohibitions concerning food and forbidden relations in his Sefer K’dusha, highlights exactly this point. In a world permeated by unbridled, instant satisfaction and rationalization of base human desire, this message could not be more relevant. Although the ultimate reasons for these and most mitzvos are hidden from us, the many insights offered by a slew of commentaries, teach us an enlightening – even if only a small – glimpse as to how much these commandments, can either bring us up or down.
A gitten shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv