An Ideal “Balebos”

We often speak of gedolim who pursue the learning and teaching of Torah as both their vocation and avocation — rashei yeshiva and other great rabbanim. Today (10 Sivan 5772) is the 108th yahrzeit of a role model that may be easier for those of us who have full-time jobs outside of religious work to take life lessons from.

Reb Kalonymus Ze’ev (“Kalman Wolf”) Wissotsky (RKWW) was born in 1824 in Zhagory, in the Kovno district of Lithuania. His father was a shopkeeper; they weren’t poor, but certainly not wealthy either. His parents provided a traditional cheider education, and was married at 18. That’s when his life starts taking an interesting trajectory.

A half-year or so after getting married, RKWW studied for a while in the Volozhiner Yeshiva.

Then he left Volozhin to join a Jewish agricultural colony in Dubno (near Dvinsk).  But the land the czar’s government gave the cause wasn’t fit for growing anything.

So, Reb Kalman Wolf went back to the beis medrash, this time to Kovno, where Rav Yisrael Salanter was just starting the Mussar Movement. RKWW was a noted member of Rav Yisrael’s circle, becoming the gabbai of the beis medras “Niviezer”, in a movement that valued service. When Rav Simcha Zisl Ziv, the future Alter of Kelm, was sent off to Reb Kalman Wolf’s hometown of Zhagory to help the local efforts to build a Mussar Kloiz (a house of mussar), Rav Yisrael sent RKWW along to be his chavrusah. One gleans from this that his learning was of a level that could keep up with the Alter’s.

It was during this period of his life (1849) he started up the tea company that still bears his name. The success of that business eventually brings him to Moscow in 1858. Not only did RKWW get a license to live outside the Pale of Settlement, his wealth was such that Czar Alexander III “invited” him to live nearby (where he could be watched). Wissotzky Tea grew into a global firm; by 1904 it followed other Jewish immigrants to New York. In 1907 it spawned the Anglo-Asiatic Trading company, operating out of London. By the time the Soviets took over all Russian manufacturing, the company had also added branches in Poland and Italy. (The factory in Rishon leTzion was his grandson Shimon Zeidler’s idea in 1936, to provide jobs for the yishuv.)

And he knew that his wealth was in trust for the many. In the 1880, when Chovevei Tzion began, he was among their most ardent supporters, and elected to the board at the Katowice Conference (see picture at right). Chovevei Tzion was a proto-Zionist organization most famously associated with Achad haAm (who also hired by Wissotzky Tea to run the Anglo-Asiatic Trading Company) and Leon Pinsker, but was founded by noted religious Zionists, R’ Zvi Hirsch Kalisher, R’ Shmuel Mohliver and R’ Yaakov Reines (who later founds Mizrachi, as a “markaz ruachani — religious center” for the Zionist movement). RKWW gave money to Alliance Israelite in Paris, to HaShiloach, a monthly magazine edited by Achad haAam, and to numerous other Zionist causes. Technion was founded on 100,000 rubles from his estate, out of a total of 1,00,000 granted for Jewish national causes.

And similar amounts of money were also invested in Torah charities in Europe, such as a yeshiva in Byalestok that also provided trade education, and the fund upon which Yeshivas Ponovezh (when it was in Ponovezh) was founded.

Rav Yaaqov Maze”h, the Chief Rabbi of Moscow and fellow Chovevei Tzion activist (and the namesake of a beautiful street in Tel Aviv), records in his memoirs how RKWW came to him once for help figuring out to whom to give his tzedaqah, as ma’aser (a tenth) of his wealth came to around half a million rubles. To give you a sense of how important the decision was, a ruble was backed by 0.514oz of gold, roughly 3/4 of the gold then used to back a dollar. Checking US dollar inflation rates (not gold), we’re talking about donating in one sitting he purchasing power of around $160 million dollars in today’s money.

When they finished deciding whom to give what, Reb Kalman Zev “arose and paced back and forth, his hands on his head, crying out a quote from Chazal: ‘Oy lanu miyom hadin! Oy lanu miyom hatockhachah! — Woe to us from the day of judgement! Woe to us from the day of rebuke!'”

But he wasn’t “merely” a philanthropist who contributed money.

At this point in Russian history, the term served by Jewish boys drafted to be “Cantonists” was at the reduced (comparatively) length of six years of study, 12 of military service, and 3 years of reserves. This is far shorter than the 25 years originally mandated, but still long enough to accomplish the desired goal of Russification — erasing the boys’ ethnic identity and fealty to Torah to make them full members of the Empire.

R’ Kalaman Wolf used his location to their benefit. He opened a clandestine school that held minyanim and classes on Shabbos, smuggled them kosher food, matzah on Pesach, and on Rosh haShanah, they would meet in the woods outside the city for shofar blowing. And many a boy, when released, was reunited with his family through the use of his money and his political contact.


An amazingly successful businessman, a baal middos, who didn’t get caught up in the pursuit and maintenance of his wealth, but utilized his position to be a visionary who cared for the Jewish People’s future in our homeland, learned, and willing to risk his own life to bring Torah to captives. As I said in the opening, a role model from whom one can learn how to be not only holy despite leaving the yeshiva to work, but holy through being a working man.

What Shabbos is For

shared on February 21st on the Cross-Currents blog a beautiful thought by Rabbi Yaakov Estreicher. To quote:

Rabbi Estreicher presented Shabbos as the key to experiencing life with joy, of rejoicing in one’s portion. He noted how rare it is to meet someone overflowing with joy. If we asked someone how he was, and he responded enthusiastically by enumerating at great length everything there is to be grateful for, we would likely suspect him of having a screw loose or partaking of illicit stimulants.

But that is precisely what Shabbos allows us to do. On Shabbos, we refrain from all melachah – which, as Rabbi Estreicher explained at length, refers not to the expenditure of energy, but to creative activity – and are therefore forced to view the world as complete, and not in need of any further improvement. We learn to appreciate what we have.

Rabbi Hutner (Pachad Yitzchak, Shabbos 5) emphasizes this point. He writes that in the verse, “And Elokim saw es kol (all) that He had made and behold it was very good,” kol does not refer to all the many things He had created, but is rather the language of completion, klila. Elokim saw how the entire creation fit together in one seamless whole, and that was the tov meod.

Thus in the blessing Yotzer Or during the week, we say, “ma rabu ma’asecha – how manifold are Your works,” but on Shabbos, we say “ma gadlu ma’asecha – how great are Your works.” “Manifold” refers to the multitude of infinite detail; “great” refers to the way in which all those details fit together in one perfect tapestry.

It is natural and proper that during the week, we should notice all that can be improved and needs to be done. That is part of what it means to be partners with Hashem in tikkun olam. But there also has to be a time when we cease thinking about all that is lacking and acting upon those thoughts, and instead contemplate the world as if were complete, without any further need of our creative input. Rav Hai Gaon instructs us to view ourselves on Shabbos like someone who has finished all the work of building a beautiful house, just as the world was complete in Hashem’s eyes, “Va’yechal Elokim b’yom ha’svi’i.

The ability to stop trying to fix things, and to instead step back and appreciate all that we have been given and how perfectly apportioned it is to our present task in life is the source of the most profound joy. Rabbi Hutner notes the difference between the description of our approach to Shabbos – “ve’karata l’Shabbos oneg (You shall call Shabbos oneg) – and that of Yom Tov – “ve’samachta b’chagecha (You shall rejoice on your festival). The latter is expressed in terms of concrete acts of simcha – e.g., eating meat and drinking wine. Krias shem, by contrast, is primarily expressed as contemplation of the essence of Shabbos, which is oneg. Through the appreciation of the perfection of one’s world, one experiences a harhavas da’as – an expansion of understanding – that can be expressed in even the smallest addition l’kavod Shabbos.

I thought of this recently while learning an upcoming daf from Yerushalmi Yomi.
Moed Qatan 3:5, 15b in the Vilna ed. near the bottom of the page:

רבי יוסי בי רבי חלפתא הוה משבח בי ר”מ קומי ציפוראיי, “אדם גדול”, “אדם קדוש”, “אדם צנוע”
חד זמן אבילייא בשובתא ושאל בון.
אמרין ליה “ר’ אהגו דאת מתני שבחיה?” אמר לון “מה עבד?” אמרו ליה “חמא אבילייא בשובתא ושאל בון.” אמר לון “בעיי אתון מידע מהו חייליה? בא להודיענו שאין אבל בשבת. דכתיב (משלי י) ‘בִּרְכַּת ה’ הִיא תַעֲשִׁיר’ — זו ברכת שבת. ‘וְלֹא-יוֹסִף עֶצֶב עִמָּהּ ‘ — זו אבילות. כמה דאת אמר (שמואל ב יט) “נֶעֱצַב הַמֶּלֶךְ עַל-בְּנוֹ.”

Rabbi Yosi bei Rabbi Chalafta used to praise Rabbi Meir in front of the residents of Tzipori, [saying he was] “a great man”, “a holy man”, “a modest man.
One day there was a mourner on Sahbbos, and [Rabbi Meir] asked about his welfare. [It was not the custom to greet mourners even on Shabbos in Tziporrei, although in many other areas it was.]
They said to [R' Yossi b"r Chalafta], “Rebbi is this the man you repeat the praises of?” He said to them, “What did he do?” They said to him, “He saw a mourner on Shabbos and asked about his welfare!” He said to them, “Do you know why he came here? He came to teach us that there is no mourning on Shabbos. As it says (Mishlei 10:22) ‘The blessing of Hashem, it makes you rich’ — that is the blessing of Shabbos. ‘And no toil (etzev) would add to it’ — that’s mourning. As it says (Shemuel II 19:3) “And the king [David] grieved (ne’etzav) for his son [Avshalom].”

The verse in Mishlei refers to a blessing that toil or grief — the root /עצב/ is being used in this derashah for both — could add to. And the gemara concludes this is the blessing of Shabbos. And what does the blessing of Shabbos provide? Wealth. But what is wealth? Of course:

… איזה הוא עשיר? השמח בחלקו. שנאמר “יְגִיעַ כַּפֶּיךָ כִּי תֹאכֵל, אַשְׁרֶיךָ וְטוֹב לָךְ.” (תהילים קכח,ב)

… Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot. As it says, “When you eat the labor of your hands, you are enriched and it is good for you.” (Tehillim 128:2)

When teaching for The Mussar Institute, Ben Zoma’s rhetorical Q&A comes up a lot. Which leads to the obvious question of how one can be both happy with their lot and yet not complacent? Always wanting the latest car might not be happiness or contentment, but the same is true of always wanting the next mitzvah opportunity, to understand the next page of gemara, etc? How does one find the balance? And if one needs balance, then how is someone who only has the contentment side richer than someone who has the balance between contentment and meaningful goals?

I therefore suggested that Ben Zoma’s notion of “chelqo” isn’t what I have now, but my entire cheileq in this world — from birth to death. Who is wealthy? One who is happy with the path Hashem laid out for him (and keeps on re-laying each time he steps off and needs a new one). If I were capable of that, I would be able to properly utilize what I have, and realize there is no need for what I don’t. And this is why Ben Zoma’s proof-text from Tehillim revolves around labor, and enjoying the fruit of one’s labor.

If I may suggest a variant on R’ Esteicher’s thought (as explained by RJR):

First, notice how well his language of Shabbos is a time when I step out of the path Hashem set me upon, my cheileq that I alone can accomplish, and look at it as a whole. Going beyond the striving of the moment, all the creative activity of the work week and looking at the kelilah, the complete whole, and “vehinei tov me’od — it is very good.”

The Curriculum at Volozhin

On the April 6, 1858, the government ordered the closure of the yeshiva in Volozhin. There is no record that anyone from the government tried to implement this order. But on the 22nd, R’ Gershon Amsterdam led a delegation to have the ruling repealed. Among the things presented to the government was the curriculum at the yeshiva. Here is my translation (original found in R’ Dr Shaul Shtampfer’s HaYeshiva haLita’it Behit-havatah, pg 213):

First Year:

  • Tanakh: chumash and nevi’im rishonim according to Rashi and [Mendelsohn's] Biur
  • Mishnah: [the orders of] Zera’im, Moed and Nashim
  • Gemara: Mesechtos Berakhos, Shabbos, Pesachim and Eiruvin with the [commentary of the] Rosh
  • Laws: Shulchan Arukh Orach Chaim
  • Hebrew Grammar: the first two sections of Studies in the Hebrew Language by [Yehudah Leib] Ben Zev
  • Languages: Russian and German reading, and the beginning of grammar
  • Arithmetic: the four basic operators [addition, subtraction, multiplication division]

Second Year:

  • Tanakh: Nevi’im acharonim and Kesuvim according to Rashi and the Biur
  • Mishnah: Neziqim and Qodshim, with Biur
  • Gemara: Mesechtos Chulin, Niddah, Yevamos, Kesuvos, Gitin, Qiddushin with the Rosh
  • Laws: Shulchan Arukh Yoreh Dei’ah and Even haEizer
  • Hebrew Grammar: Completing Studies in the Hebrew Language”
  • Languages: Completion of Russian and German grammar, and writing
  • Arithmetic: fractions and decimals

A few things are striking.

First, contrary to legend, they did have secular studies in Volozhin. In fact, according to documents released after the fall of the Soviet Union, it appears the school was shut down when the arguments between those who supported R’ Chaim Brisker as the next Rosh Yeshiva and those who supported R’ Chaim Berlin grew into anarchy, with no mention of secular studies being an issue at all.

Rav Chaim Brisker did threaten to close the school rather than the 1892 edict, but it wasn’t over secular studies in particular. (Especially since they were already being taught.) According to R’ Barukh haLevi Epstein (the Torah Temimah) in Meqor Barukh (as translated in My Uncle the Netziv, pg 205-206), the edict required secular studies from 9am to 3pm, and closing the school at dark. This would leave no time at all for Torah study for much of the year, and very little during the rest.

As for the general attitude to secular studies in Volozhin, both in curriculum and in the students’ pursuit of ad hoc studies in their own time, the Torah Temimah writes (MUtN, pg 204):

…[T]he students of Volozhin were quite knowledgeable in secular studies: they took an interest in science, history and geography and knew many languages. In fact, those students who desired to pursue these disciplines succeeded in learning twice as much as any student at a state institution. In Volohzin, Torah and derech eretz walked hand in hand, neither one held captive by the other. It was the special achievement of the Volozhin student that when he left the yeshiva, he was able to converse with any man in any social setting on the highest intellectual plane. The Volohzin student was able to conquer both worlds — the world of Torah and the world at large. A well-known adage among parents who were trying to best educate their children was, “Do you want your child to develop into a complete Jew, dedicated to Torah and derech eretz? Do you want him to be able to mingle with people and get along in the world? Send him to Volozhin!

And in fact, R’ SR Hirsch wrote a letter to his community to aid the emissary sent from the Yeshiva to raise funds in Frankfurt. In it, he calls Volozhiner Yeshiva “fellow travelers on the path of Torah im Derekh Eretz“!

I am not talking about the Hebrew grammar, though. Given the age of the textbook (Talmud Leshon Ivri), published in Breslau in 1796, they were learning the diqduq necessary to really understand Tanakh and Chazal, not Hebrew as a living language. But both the local language (Russian) and the language that dominated international academia (German). Math wasn’t as impressive though, ending with material we learn in early grade school. On the other hand, I don’t know what the general population in Russia was learning. Clearly a liberal arts focus, though.

Second, they actually used Mendeslsohn’s Biur! (Their Hebrew textbook was also by a first generation Maskil, but it’s less surprising in a topic that is more religiously neutral than a commentary on Tanakh.)

Third, their Torah study focused on covering ground. All of Tanakh in two years? 5/6 of the mishnah, 10 mesechtos of gemara? 3/4 of the Shulchan Arukh? It seems that before R’ Chaim Brisker taught people his methods of analysis, there was no real attention on analysis altogether at Volozhin. It would seem they instead focused on deriving the halakhah from the gemara studied, as that is the focus of the Rosh’s commentary.

The Holy Refrain

Rav Shim’on Shkop comments on the Toras Kohanim (a/k/a the Sifra) at the opening of parashas Qedoshim.

Yes, I’m revisiting the introduction to Shaarei Yosher. Again.

And about the foundation of this mitzvah of sanctity the Toras Kohanim has “‘be holy’ – be separate”. Nachmanides, in his commentary on the Torah, explains at length this notion of separation as it is stated in this mitzvah, that it is separation from excessive comfort and pleasure – even if they are actions that are not prohibited to us. In one illustrative statement, he writes that it is possible for a person to be disgusting with [what would otherwise be] the permission of the Torah, see his holy words there.
וביסוד מצוה זו של קדושה איתא בתורת כהנים: “‘קדושים תהיו’ – פרושים תהיו” ,והרמב״ן ז״ל בפירושו על התורה האריך לבאר ענין פרישות האמור במצוה זו שהוא להתרחק מן הנאות ותענוגים יתירים, אף על פי שהם מעשים שאינן אסורים לנו, ובציור מבליט אומר שאפשר לאדם להיות נבל ברשות התורה ועין שם בדבריו הקדושים

Rashi says that the Toras Kohanim refers to the previous section of the Torah, avoiding prohibited relations. The Ramban also emphasizes the concept of separation; but unlike Rashi, his separation is beyond the minimum required of the law. Rav Shim’on, a little farther down, explains this idea further:

In this way, the concept of separation is a consequence of the underlying basis of the mitzvah of holiness, which is recognizable in practice in the ways a person acts. But with insight and the calling of spirituality this mitzvah broadens to include everything a person causes or does even between him and the Omnipresent. In relation to this, this holiness is comparable to the Holiness of the Creator in whatever little similarity. Just as the Act of the Holy One in all of creation, and in each and every moment that He continues to cause the universe to exist; all His actions are sanctified to the good of others, so too it is His Will that our actions be constantly sanctified to the good of the community, and not personal benefit.
ועל פי דרך זה ענין מצוה של פרישות הוא תמצית מיסוד מצות קדושה, הנכרת בפועל בדרכי ההנהגה של האדם, אבל ברעיון ושאיפת הרוח מתרחבת מצוד, זו גם על כל מפעליו ומעשיו של האדם גם בינו לבין המקום, וביחס זה מתדמה ענין קדושה זו לקדושת הבורא ית׳ באיזה דמיון קצת, שכמו שבמעשה של הקב״ה בהבריאה כולה, וכן בכל רגע ורגע שהוא מקיים את העולם, כל מעשיו הם מוקדשים לטובת זולתו, כן רצונו ית׳ שיהיו מעשינו תמיד מוקדשים לטובת הכלל ולא להנאת עצמו.

Qedushah is the commitment to Hashem’s goal in creation (which is being good to others), and this concept of separation is a consequence of Qedushah, not its definition.  Commitment to one call necessary causes a neglect of other goals and anything distracting from our great task.

When we leined parashas Qedoshim, I realize that Rav Shim’on’s approach is inherent in the words of the chapter. Here is chapter 19:

א וַיְדַבֵּר ה׳ אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. ב דַּבֵּר אֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי ה׳ אֱ‑לֹקֵיכֶם. ג אִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ וְאֶת שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ אֲנִי ה׳ אֱ‑לֹקֵיכֶם. ד אַל תִּפְנוּ אֶל הָאֱלִילִים וֵאלֹהֵי מַסֵּכָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ לָכֶם אֲנִי ה׳ אֱ‑לֹקֵיכֶם. ה וְכִי תִזְבְּחוּ זֶבַח שְׁלָמִים לַיהוָה לִרְצֹנְכֶם תִּזְבָּחֻהוּ. ו בְּיוֹם זִבְחֲכֶם יֵאָכֵל וּמִמָּחֳרָת וְהַנּוֹתָר עַד יוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי בָּאֵשׁ יִשָּׂרֵף. ז וְאִם הֵאָכֹל יֵאָכֵל בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי פִּגּוּל הוּא לֹא יֵרָצֶה. ח וְאֹכְלָיו עֲו‍ֹנוֹ יִשָּׂא כִּי אֶת קֹדֶשׁ ה׳ חִלֵּל וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מֵעַמֶּיהָ. ט וּבְקֻצְרְכֶם אֶת קְצִיר אַרְצְכֶם לֹא תְכַלֶּה פְּאַת שָׂדְךָ לִקְצֹר וְלֶקֶט קְצִירְךָ לֹא תְלַקֵּט. י וְכַרְמְךָ לֹא תְעוֹלֵל וּפֶרֶט כַּרְמְךָ לֹא תְלַקֵּט לֶעָנִי וְלַגֵּר תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָם אֲנִי ה׳ אֱ‑לֹקֵיכֶם. יא לֹא תִּגְנֹבוּ וְלֹא תְכַחֲשׁוּ וְלֹא תְשַׁקְּרוּ אִישׁ בַּעֲמִיתוֹ. יב וְלֹא תִשָּׁבְעוּ בִשְׁמִי לַשָּׁקֶר וְחִלַּלְתָּ אֶת שֵׁם אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲנִי ה׳. יג לֹא תַעֲשֹׁק אֶת רֵעֲךָ וְלֹא תִגְזֹל לֹא תָלִין פְּעֻלַּת שָׂכִיר אִתְּךָ עַד בֹּקֶר. יד לֹא תְקַלֵּל חֵרֵשׁ וְלִפְנֵי עִוֵּר לֹא תִתֵּן מִכְשֹׁל וְיָרֵאתָ מֵּאֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲנִי ה׳. טו לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ עָוֶל בַּמִּשְׁפָּט לֹא תִשָּׂא פְנֵי דָל וְלֹא תֶהְדַּר פְּנֵי גָדוֹל בְּצֶדֶק תִּשְׁפֹּט עֲמִיתֶךָ. טז לֹא תֵלֵךְ רָכִיל בְּעַמֶּיךָ לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל דַּם רֵעֶךָ אֲנִי ה׳. יז לֹא תִשְׂנָא אֶת אָחִיךָ בִּלְבָבֶךָ הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת עֲמִיתֶךָ וְלֹא תִשָּׂא עָלָיו חֵטְא. יח לֹא תִקֹּם וְלֹא תִטֹּר אֶת בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ אֲנִי ה׳. יט אֶת חֻקֹּתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ בְּהֶמְתְּךָ לֹא תַרְבִּיעַ כִּלְאַיִם שָׂדְךָ לֹא תִזְרַע כִּלְאָיִם וּבֶגֶד כִּלְאַיִם שַׁעַטְנֵז לֹא יַעֲלֶה עָלֶיךָ. כ וְאִישׁ כִּי יִשְׁכַּב אֶת אִשָּׁה שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע וְהִוא שִׁפְחָה נֶחֱרֶפֶת לְאִישׁ וְהָפְדֵּה לֹא נִפְדָּתָה אוֹ חֻפְשָׁה לֹא נִתַּן לָהּ בִּקֹּרֶת תִּהְיֶה לֹא יוּמְתוּ כִּי לֹא חֻפָּשָׁה. כא וְקֵבִיא אֶת אֲשָׁמוֹ לַיהוָה אֶל פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד אֵיל אָשָׁם. כב וְכִפֶּר עָלָיו הַכֹּקֵן בְּאֵיל הָאָשָׁם לִפְנֵי ה׳ עַל חַטָּאתוֹ אֲשֶׁר חָטָא וְנִסְלַח לוֹ מֵחַטָּאתוֹ אֲשֶׁר חָטָא.
כג וְכִי תָבֹאוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ וּנְטַעְתֶּם כָּל עֵץ מַאֲכָל וַעֲרַלְתֶּם עָרְלָתוֹ אֶת פִּרְיוֹ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים יִהְיֶה לָכֶם עֲרֵלִים לֹא יֵאָכֵל. כד וּבַשָּׁנָה הָרְבִיעִת יִהְיֶה כָּל פִּרְיוֹ קֹדֶשׁ הִלּוּלִים לַה. כה וּבַשָּׁנָה הַחֲמִישִׁת תֹּאכְלוּ אֶת פִּרְיוֹ לְהוֹסִיף לָכֶם תְּבוּאָתוֹ אֲנִי ה׳ אֱ‑לֹקֵיכֶם. כו לֹא תֹאכְלוּ עַל הַדָּם לֹא תְנַחֲשׁוּ וְלֹא תְעוֹנֵנוּ. כז לֹא תַקִּפוּ פְּאַת רֹאשְׁכֶם וְלֹא תַשְׁחִית אֵת פְּאַת זְקָנֶךָ. כח וְשֶׂרֶט לָנֶפֶשׁ לֹא תִתְּנוּ בִּבְשַׂרְכֶם וּכְתֹבֶת קַעֲקַע לֹא תִתְּנוּ בָּכֶם אֲנִי ה׳. כט אַל תְּחַלֵּל אֶת בִּתְּךָ לְהַזְנוֹתָהּ וְלֹא תִזְנֶה הָאָרֶץ וּמָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ זִמָּה. ל אֶת שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ וּמִקְדָּשִׁי תִּירָאוּ אֲנִי ה׳. לא אַל תִּפְנוּ אֶל הָאֹבֹת וְאֶל הַיִּדְּעֹנִים אַל תְּבַקְשׁוּ לְטָמְאָה בָהֶם אֲנִי ה׳ אֱ‑לֹקֵיכֶם. לב מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם וְהָדַרְתָּ פְּנֵי זָקֵן וְיָרֵאתָ מֵּאֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲנִי ה׳.              לג  וְכִי יָגוּר אִתְּךָ גֵּר בְּאַרְצְכֶם לֹא תוֹנוּ אֹתוֹ. לד כְּאֶזְרָח מִכֶּם יִהְיֶה לָכֶם הַגֵּר הַגָּר אִתְּכֶם וְאָהַבְתָּ לוֹ כָּמוֹךָ כִּי גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם אֲנִי ה׳ אֱ‑לֹקֵיכֶם. לה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ עָוֶל בַּמִּשְׁפָּט בַּמִּדָּה בַּמִּשְׁקָל וּבַמְּשׂוּרָה. לו מֹאזְנֵי צֶדֶק אַבְנֵי צֶדֶק אֵיפַת צֶדֶק וְהִין צֶדֶק יִהְיֶה לָכֶם אֲנִי ה׳ אֱ‑לֹקֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. לז וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת כָּל חֻקֹּתַי וְאֶת כָּל מִשְׁפָּטַי וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם אֲנִי ה׳.

Notice our clause (in large), introduces a recurring closing in the section. “Be holy for I, Hashem Your G-d, am Holy”, “I am Hashem your G-d”, “I am Hashem your G-d”, I am Hashem”, etc…

The structure connects the concept of holiness to the mitzvos if avoiding idolatry, leaving crops for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the convert, no taking false oaths, not tripping up others with bad advice, not to stand by when someone else is in trouble, not to carry hate around, not to take revenge, or bear a grudge, to love others, ….

The pasuq introduces the following text. Yes, Rashi says being holy requires all avoiding the prohitions of the previous chapter. But this is a precondition. The actual concept of holiness is defined in the variety of mitzvos between man and G-d and between man and other people in this chapter.

The Eilu vaEilu Paradox

The notion of eilu va’eilu is taken by many to be quite literal — that two conflicting halachic opinions can both be equally correct, both equally truly representing the Will of G-d. This is a product of halakhah being a mapping from Hashem’s infinite Thought to human reality and/or His leaving us a process that has room for our creativity because that creativity is itself part of the redemptive process, etc…

Here’s the paradox… Say camp A holds that some limit X is involate, that people who deny X believe in heresy (albeit may not have the laws of a heretic). Camp B denies X, but has no similar red line that camp A crossed.

B is in the position of believing eilu va’eilu includes the truth of A’s approach to Torah — including the belief that B’s own approach isn’t true (isn’t within eilu va’eilu)? Paradox!

This comic presented a nice mashal, if you have some knowledge, even on the popularization level, of some of the odder hypotheses in physics:

Abstruse Goose: Many World Problem