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The Name of the Parsha

unique quality of Parshas Kedoshim is that it was said directly by Moshe to the people, unlike the other laws of the Torah, which were first taught to Aharon and the elders. As Rashi writes at the opening of the Parsha: "This Parsha was said to the assembled [congregation of Israel] because most of the basic teachings of the Torah depend on it."

The first thing that the Jewish people were told after being assembled was: "You should be holy because l, God your God, am holy."

Now, we might have thought that when addressing the public about "the basic teachings of the Torah," the first thing to do would be to warn the people about keeping the mitzvos, and the grave consequences of their non-observance. And only then would it be appropriate to stress the positive side of the mitzvos, such as the great merit that the Jewish people have to be given these laws. Moshe would thus have followed the sequence of the verse: "Turn away from evil, and do good" (Psalms 34:16).

In fact, however, Moshe did the very opposite. First, he stressed the positive aspects of being Jewish and observing the mitzvos: "You should be holy because I, God your God, am holy," that the holiness of a Jew is connected with the holiness of God Himself. And, only after this positive introduction did he begin to stress the seriousness of the mitzvos, etc.

From this we can learn that we should always approach another Jew with warmth, friendliness and positivity. Experience has shown that intimidating people with fear of Divine retribution and prophecies of doom is simply not as effective as taking a positive approach, which draws people towards observant Judaism, rather than scaring them away, God forbid.

And even though the verse seems to suggest that the negative must come first ("turn away from evil, and do good"), we could nevertheless interpret the verse as follows: [n order to turn away from evil, simply do good and the evil will take care of itself.
(Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Acharei-Kedoshim 5748)


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