Kedoshim you should be since I am Holy (19:2) – Why does Hashem need to give a reason as to why we should be holy? Isn’t the demand enough? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explains that when it comes to spiritual matters, one needs to live his expectations of others. It is not fair to make demands of someone else spiritually unless one knows what that undertaking entails. Hashem demonstrates this by reminding us that while he is demanding that we be holy, He too, is holy.
When you offer a korban Shelamim do it with your full will (19:5) – Rav Zalman Sorotzkin ztl. notes that the same idea of Ratzon is stressed in regard to Olah as it is for Shelamim. However, in regards to a Chatas and an Asham, no mention of Ratzon exists. Why? He answers that while a Shelamim and an Olah can be donated, the donation obligation can be coerced if forgotten. However, a Chatas and an Asham can never be coerced – they are inherently always brought L’Ratzon.
Do not put a stumbling Block before the blind man (19:14) – The Talmud (Pesachim 22b) applies this Halacha to include not misleading Non-Jews into not following the Noachide laws. Why does this Halacha uniquely include not misleading non-Jews as opposed to other Mitzvos wherein the law affects the way we interact with Jews alone? Rav Elchonon Wasserman ztl. explained that there are two aspects to the prohibition of Lifnei Iver – one may not cause his fellow man to do another Avaira and that one may not give bad advice. The former applies to our relationship with all of mankind since, in the end, we share the common message of using this world to properly relate to Hashem. When any one of us – Jew or non-Jew fails in that mission, we have all not met our responsibilities in this world.
A peddler of Gossip shall not walk within the nation (19:16) – The Chofetz Chaim notes that the word “walking” is utilized in the Torah in this context in order to underscore that the Gossip-monger is liable as soon as s/he goes to seek the “dirt” to gossip about. What would he say if the person went to seek the information but found nothing. Would that person be guilty of Rechilus? Rav Aharon Leib Steinman Shlita suggests that the whole understanding of Rechilus is not one of gossiping but rather of the desire to see evil in one’s fellow man. Based on this understanding then as soon as one gets up to go find “the dirt” s/he is already a Rocheil and liable.
And you should fear my Mikdash – Maran HaRav Schachter Shlita would often point out to us that even if there is no requirement of Mora (fear) in the Mikdash miat as there is in the Beis HaMikdash, the responsibilities of Kavod Beis HaKnesses certainly do apply in the same manner.
In the presence of an old person shall you rise and you shall honor the presence of an elderly person" (Leviticus 19:32)- The verb on the latter phrase is ve'hadarta, which indeed means to honor, which is giving something to the older person. Rabbi Joseph Adler remarked that ve'hadarta also means "to return," i.e., to get something back from the older person. Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski Shlita added that old people are repositories of wisdom. This is why, the Midrash tells us that Moshe sought Serach’s advice to help him find the missing bones of Yosef. It is because Serach had knowledge which could not be equaled even by direct contact with G-d. Serach knew Joseph and the patriarch Yaakov. Contact with the great tzaddikim is irreplaceable. This is what the elderly can offer us.We have to show our children that we not only revere the elderly but also that we appreciate their wisdom.
Sanctify yourselves and you will be sanctified (20:7) – Rav Chaim Sabato Shlita notes that there is a level of Kedusha demanded in the book of Vayikra known as Kedushas HaChevra – the sanctity of the group. But what makes the group holy? Isn’t holiness a function of separation? How can one sanctify the group if one does not separate from it? Rav Sabato explains that the group as a whole needs to accept that certain activities and styles they need to separate from, in order to succeed at the sanctity game. A group member cannot insult someone even if the other doesn’t “care” simply because it is beneath the standards of the group. This is Kedushas HaChevra.
Haftorah: The Rema notes that when Parshas Kedoshim is stand alone, we do not read the printed Haftorah (Hoda Es Yirushalayim) but rather read the one for Parshas Achrei Mos (HaLo K’Bnei Kushiim). There is a major discussion (Megillah 25b) as to whether we may read a Haftorah that denigrates the city of Yirushalayim. Maran HaRav schachter Shlita explained that even though we hold like the Chachamim that indeed the practice would be Mutar, we (minhag Lita) are Machmir on the matter and choose not to read a Haftorah that denigrates the land of Israel. Rav Schachter adds that the Haftorah for Achrei Mos provides us with hope instead – that there will be settlement in the land and planting and farming will resume and the keduashas Haaretz will again flourish.