Friday, May 06, 2005

II-7 Kedoshim Love Your Neighbor

6 May III-7 Kedoshim Love Your Neighbor

Torah: Lv 19-20:27

Haftorah: Is 66:1-24, 23


1. Lv 19:1-14
2. Lv 19:15-22
3. Lv 19:23-32
4. Lv 19:33-37
5. Lv 20:1-7
6. Lv 20:8-22
7. Lv 20:23-27


Kedoshim calls us to holiness. Holiness is not an other-world concept of fasting aescetics meditating in a desert, but that of applicable relationships and deeds between man and man, and man and God. Be ye holy. How? Love your neighbor as yourself. Don't steal or cheat you fellow man; pay wages on time, assist those in need and provide for those without—dedicate the corners of your field so gleaners can provide for themselves. Your relationships with your fellow man can either honor of defame God through your example.


"You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God, am holy." Lv 19:2

"When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of the harvest. You shall not pick your vineyards bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard, you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger." Lv 19: 9-10

"Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord." Lv 19:19


Oftentimes, I think that I will not write another article for this page. There's so much bitterness in this world that I feel I have no influence at all. Often, I confess no belief in God. He seems more hidden than revealed, more absent than present.

In 2000, I was attacked by my landlord with two other men after returning from the Spanish Synagogue.They broke into my flat, awaiting my return. I owed no debt, offering to pay legal fees on the landlord's behalf to process the necessary documentation. I escaped, but having nowhere to go I tried to call for help. The first was the leader of the Jewish community that I had just left. He said, "Sorry, I'm busy...' and hung up. Another promised that he would standby to call the police if anything happened. Yet another, a friend who didn't want to be bothered because she was drinking wine. Frantically I went through my entire list at the local telephone box when the thug caught me on the street. Springing on me, he squatted on my chest. Grabbing my head in his hands, he beat it against the pavement until I released the binder in my hands, containing all my legal documentation. I sustained severe concussions. Being Saturday, procuring a lawyer to open the flat or hire a moving van was not easy, but incredibly expensive. The movers could demand whatever price they wanted. The lawyer appeared, but did nothing to establish order or take evidence. She provided no defense, but demanded payment.

I was active then in three communities: Catholic, Anglican and Jewish. None of them showed compassion or provided assistance to sustain me through the catastrophe destroying my life. I lost everything of value. Six years work and two thousand pages of manuscript. Wine, jewelry, computer, diskettes, walkmans, students' exams. Even my eyeglasses were taken. While I was locked out on the street, they vandalized the flat, searching through the already packed boxes. They tried to kill my cat in my oven.

Seeing me shaking from shock, the Catholic priest berated me harshly for feeling sorry for myself. Later I begged assistance, going to the chief priest. He told me:

"Really Mary, the Church is not for that. It is not the mission of the Church to help people."

"But couldn't you at least announce it to the congregation? There are so many people who could help me."

"No, I really can't do that. If I did it for you; I would have to do it for everyone else—and that is not the purpose of the Church."

So I learned that Jesus preached in vain. Instead, I hear invidious polemics: Jews wash only their left hands, Jews executed people by burying them alive, Jesus was the first man to call God his father, the first to preach that God was a God of love ... on and on, twisting the teachings of Torah and Talmud to suit their own devious schemes of riling contempt for God's people. So John Paul lived and died in vain.

What good is it if you blather theology, rant tirades on Sunday morning, if your hand and mouth do not perform the mitzvos decreed within the Torah.

And so I object, but cannot stop the swirling tide of baseless prejudice.

Yet these very same people preach God's love to a congregation on Sunday. Who can believe in such a religion? I can't.

I received little besides sardonic moralizing, abusing me for tears when I was in great pain. There seems to be no relationship between the teachings of Jesus the Jew to the priestly behavior. I cannot justify it, nor can I justify the deaths of so many people in concentration camps. They died of moral cowardice; the refusal to care for others. How many profited from stolen goods? How many were glad to see their neighbors proscribed so they could steal their pets, confiscate their houses and have grand pianos?

How many tergisversated, refused assistance just as they did the night I was attacked. Since then I have survived four attacks. Each is brutally senseless, but renews the nightmares, my spiraling debts and helplessness.

The police did nothing. Even with the license plates and vivid description, they turned a blind eye. People accused me of wrongdoing. They made jokes at my expense, they moralized; but did little to help my recovery. I sought help on both sides, Jews and Catholics alike. The Catholic priests were just abusive, adding more hardship through their insufferable moralizing. And having a foot within the Jewish community, made me more a victim of prejudice and indifference. Nobody wants responsibility to help a neighbor, yet both sides preach it as a holy obligation.

Telling someone, "Don't worry, be happy," just doesn't work.

Truly, it is difficult for me to believe. Each day is a struggle. I am in the pit. My life is only a bad apology for my existence, yet I am taught that all men are made in the image of God.

Why then do we abandon those in great need? Why do we debase those among the walking dead? Ignore the cry for help in the eyes of others?

What I lost, I cannot replace. I cannot restore the person I was before I was attacked. Previously, I had no fear to be alone; but now I am intimidated, afraid to ask for help when I most need it. When my shoulder was fractured, I endured scathing remarks from those pumping my arm as I restrained myself from wincing pain. "Oh, you're so weak..."

Well, no, really I am not. Have you been beaten? Attacked and escaped to talk about it? Have you taught twelve hours without a break after being tossed by a car? Have you seen your lower body trapped between the doors under the train? Each incident bears scars I cannot heal on my body and spirit and in my life, but the greatest is the inhumane indifference. They are the same who would turn aside, close the blinds, cover their ears and not see the anguish of their neighbor and the immolation of their brother.

Too often Christianity perverts Jesus' words, declaring "take up your bed and walk" as a way to revile those crippled, rather than showing compassion commanded of us through mitzvot.

I can walk. Despite the polemical remarks, I remain adamantly loyal to what I believe is right. I overstep the line, the baseless hatred and prejudice... and granted in my old age, learning Torah is more blotchy than writing on recycled paper with a cheap, drippy pen.

"Contemplate three things, and you will not come to the hands of transgression: Know what is above from you: a seeing eye, a listening ear, and all your deeds being inscribed in a book." Pirkei Avos 2:1


"When you encounter your enemy's ox or ass wandering, you must take it back to him. When you see the ass of your enemy lying under its burden and would refrain from raising it, you must nevertheless raise it with him." II-6 Mishpatim Ex 23:4-5

Yanki Tauber, Mishpatim: The Criminal, the Litigant, and the Partner

Rav Kook, Vayishlach: The Clash Between Jacob and Esau
a study of conflicting temperaments and disparate views on legacy

Rav Kook, Kedoshim: "Peah" and Lessons in Tzedakah
a concise explanation of Peah and its significance as a model of charitable acts

Rav Kook, Kedoshim: Love your Neighbor


Rav Frand, AchareiMos / Kedoshim 5757
succinct explanation of Lv 18:5

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, Olas Shabbos- AchareiMos / Kedoshim: "For I am Holy"

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Parsha Insight-AchareiMos / Kekdoshim 5761

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Parsha Insight-AchareiMos / Kekdoshim 5762

Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger, Kolel: Kedoshim: A New Look at Philanthropy

Rabbi David Ehrenkranz, Kedoshim: Nobility on Endless Trial

Stuart Binder, Kedoshim: The Nature of Holiness

Rabbi Pinchas Avruch, Kol Hakollel- AchareiMos / Kedoshim: Giving for a Good Cause

Rabbi Pinchas Avruch, Kol Hakollel-Kedoshim: More Power to You

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Lifeline – AchareiMos / Kedoshim 5759

Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, JTSA Kedoshim 5755
biting criticism regarding political neighbors...

Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, JTSA Kedoshim 5760
regarding the corners of the field and Ruth
please note that Ruth was a Moabite--

Related Suite Parasha:

II-6 Mishpatim Laws 3 February 2005
Torah: Ex 21-24:18

II-6 Mishpatim Laws 3 February 2005

III-6 Acharei Mot

III-6 Acharei Mot


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