Most of this week’s parsha is about whom you can and can’t marry.  For instance, you can’t marry two sisters and you can’t marry close relatives such as a niece or nephew. 

But the interesting part is after that.  God speaks to Moses, telling him to tell the Children of Israel to be holy.  What does God mean by this?  Well, first he restates the Ten Commandments:

  • Don’t turn your faces to no-Gods, meaning gods that aren’t the Lord.
  • Honor your mother and father and hold them in awe.
  • Keep the Sabbath.
  • Don’t make idols.

Here God adds a commandment to eat slaughtered meat on the same day it’s killed or the next day.  After that, it has to be burned up.

And now we have some commandments that relate to doing right by other people.  Some are part of the Ten Commandments, some are not.

  • When you gather your harvest, leave the grain on the edges of the field so poor people can gather it up.  The same with your vineyard, where you grow your grapes.
  • Don’t steal from other people.
  • Don’t deal falsely with other people.
  • Pay your workers right away, instead of holding on to the money till the next day.
  • Don’t insult the deaf. (Think about it: the deaf may not hear your insults, but don’t do it anyway!)
  • Don’t put stumbling blocks before the blind.

Remember, God is telling them “Holy are you to be, for holy am I, your God!”  So being kind to poor people, your fellow humans, and those who are unfortunate is on the same level of holiness as honoring your mother and your father!

Torah commands us not to put stumbling blocks before the blind

Food for Thought

The Children of Israel are told not to eat the blood of animals or birds that are killed.  “For the life of all flesh – it is its blood.”  Why do you suppose the blood was off limits?