Dvar Torah Parshat Emor 5774 2014

In the 613 commandments in the Torah we have a specific concept of two types of laws. One is known as מצוות עשה, simply translated means “Positive Mitzvot” and we have מצוות לא תעשה, “Mitzvot of Prohibition”. Of the former ones there are 248 and of the latter there are 365.

In this Shabbat Torah reading we find a verse which states: וְלֹא תְחַלְּלוּ אֶת שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, “You shall not desecrate My holy Name, and I should be sanctified among the Children of Israel…”. (Lev. 22,32) The first part is a negative commandment, not to desecrate Hashem’s Name. The second part is a positive commandment, to see that Hashem’s Name should be sanctified. Why is one commandment in the negative and the other in the positive?

Perhaps the reason is that we must not desecrate Hashem’s Name as a matter of a commandment. To sanctify His Name, however, should be a natural desire on our part. To sanctify it we should want to do so of our own free will, yet we should also do so because it is a commandment.

The same is true with our dealings with other people. We must not do them harm because it is wrong according to the Torah and according to the law. To do good to others, to do favors, to help another person, should be done because we want to and also because we know it is the right thing to do.

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