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Leviticus Chapter 19
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Holiness Laws
19:1 God spoke to Moses, telling him to
19:2 speak to the entire Israelite community and say to them:

You must be holy, since I am God your Lord [and] I am holy.

19:3 Every person must respect his mother and father, and keep My Sabbaths. I am God your Lord.
19:4 Do not turn aside to false gods, and do not make yourselves gods out of cast metal. I am God your Lord.
19:5 When you offer a peace sacrifice to God, you shall do so of your own free will.
19:6 You can eat it on the day you sacrifice it and on the next day, but anything left over until the third day must be burned in fire.
19:7 If one [even plans to] eat it on the third day, it is considered putrid and it is not acceptable.
19:8 If one [then] eats it, he has desecrated that which is holy to God, and he shall bear his guilt. Such a person shall be cut off [spiritually] from his people.
19:9 When you reap your land's harvest, do not completely harvest the ends of your fields. [Also] do not pick up individual stalks [that have fallen].
19:10 [Furthermore,] do not pick the incompletely formed grape clusters in your vineyards. [Also] do not pick up individual [fallen grapes] in your vineyards. [All the above] must be left for the poor and the stranger. I am God your Lord.
19:11 Do not steal.

Do not deny [a rightful claim].

Do not lie to one another.

19:12 Do not swear falsely by My name; [if you do so], you will be desecrating your God's name. I am God.
19:13 Do not [unjustly] withhold that which is due your neighbor.

Do not let a worker's wages remain with you overnight until morning.

19:14 Do not curse [even] the deaf.

Do not place a stumbling block before the [morally] blind. You must fear your God. I am God.

19:15 Do not pervert justice. Do not give special consideration to the poor nor show respect to the great. Judge your people fairly.
19:16 Do not go around as a gossiper among your people.

Do not stand still when your neighbor's life is in danger. I am God.

19:17 Do not hate your brother in your heart.

You must admonish your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.

19:18 Do not take revenge nor bear a grudge against the children of your people.

You must love your neighbor as [you love] yourself. I am God.

19:19 Keep My decrees:

Do not crossbreed your livestock with other species.

Do not plant your field with different species of seeds.

Do not wear a garment that contains a forbidden mixture of fabrics.

19:20 If a man lies carnally with a slave woman who is half married to [another] man, and she has not been redeemed or given her freedom, she must be physically punished. However, since she has not been freed, [the two] shall not be put to death.
19:21 [The man] must bring his guilt offering to God, to the Communion Tent entrance. It shall be a ram for a guilt offering.
19:22 The priest shall make atonement for him before God with the guilt offering ram, for the sin that he committed. He will thus gain forgiveness for his sin.

Forbidden Practices
19:23 When you come to the [promised] land and plant any tree bearing edible [fruit], you must avoid its fruit as a forbidden growth. For three years [the fruit] shall be a forbidden growth, and it may not be eaten.
19:24 Then, in the fourth year, all [the tree's] fruit shall be holy, and it shall be something for which God is praised.
19:25 In the fifth year, you may eat its fruit and thus increase your crops. I am God your Lord.
19:26 Do not eat on blood.

Do not act on the basis of omens.

Do not act on the basis of auspicious times.

19:27 Do not cut off the hair on the sides of your head.

Do not shave off the edges of your beard.

19:28 Do not make gashes in your skin for the dead.

Do not make any tattoo marks on your skin. I am God.

19:29 Do not defile your daughter with premarital sex. You will then not make the land sexually immoral, and the land [will not] be filled with perversion.
19:30 Keep My Sabbaths and revere My sanctuary. I am God.
19:31 Do not turn to mediums, nor seek out oracles, so as to defile yourselves through them. I am God your Lord.
19:32 Stand up before a white head, and give respect to the old. You shall thus fear your God. I am God.
19:33 When a proselyte comes to live in your land, do not hurt his feelings.
19:34 The foreigner who becomes a proselyte must be exactly like one who is native born among you. You shall love him as [you love] yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am God your Lord.
19:35 Do not falsify measurements, whether in length, weight or volume.
19:36 You must have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest dry measure, and an honest liquid measure.

I am God your Lord who took you out of Egypt.

19:37 Safeguard My decrees and all My laws, and keep them. I am God.



Commentary:

respect
  (cf. Kiddushin 31a). Literally, 'fear' or 'reverence.'

keep My Sabbaths
  Even if a parent tells one to violate it (Yevamoth 5b). The same is true of all other commandments (Bava Metzia 32a).

peace sacrifice
  See Leviticus 3:1-17. This section repeats 7:11-19.

do not completely harvest...
  The portion left at the end of the field is known as peah (cf. Yad, Matnoth Aniyim 1:1). It must be left at the last edge of the field to be harvested (Peah 1:3; Yad, Matnoth Aniyim 2:12).

stalks that have fallen
  From the sickle or hand during harvest (Peah 4:10; Yad, Matnoth Aniyim 4:1). This is known as leket. If only one or two stalks fall, they may not be picked up, but if three or more stalks fall, they may be taken (Peah 6:5; Rashi).

incompletely formed grape clusters
  Which do not have the grapes attached to a central stem, or do not have the grapes lying on one another (Peah 7:4; Yad, Matnoth Aniyim 4:17,18). Oleleth in Hebrew.

individual fallen grapes
  Which fall during harvest (Peah 7:3). Here too, if one or two grapes fall, they may not be picked up, but if a cluster contains three or more grapes, it may (Peah 6:5; Yad, Matnoth Aniyim4:15). Peret in Hebrew.

All the above
  (Makkoth 16b; Yad, Matnoth Aniyim 1:2; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Positive 120, 121).

stranger
  An Israelite (Sifra). A proselyte (Malbim).

Do not deny...
  (Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 248). Kachash in Hebrew. See Leviticus 5:21.

Do not unjustly withhold...
  (Yad, Gezelah 1:4). Ashak in Hebrew; see Leviticus 5:21. Also, 'do not swindle' (Sefer HaMitzvoth Negative 247). This includes an injunction against refusing to pay wages due an employee (Sifra; Rashi).

Do not let a worker's wages...
  See Deuteronomy 24:15. One must therefore pay wages on the agreed upon day, without delay (Yad, Sekhiruth 11:1; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 238).

even
  (Sifra; Rashi; cf. Sanhedrin 66a, Shevuoth 36a).

morally
  (Pesachim 22b; Rashi). This means that it is forbidden to cause another person to commit a sin. Also 'conceptually blind,' by giving bad advice (Sifra). Some say that it is also to be taken in its literal sense, that it is forbidden to place something on the ground where it will cause damage (Ralbag; Sforno). According to others, however, this commandment is not to be taken in its literal sense (Korban Aaron on Sifra: Mishneh LaMelekh, Malveh 4:6, s.v. Kathav; Minchath Chinukh 232:4).

show respect
  Hadar in Hebrew, see Leviticus 19:32. Or, 'be impressed' (Saadia; Septuagint).

when your neighbor's life is in danger
  (Sifra; Rashi; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 296). Expressed idiomatically as, 'Do not stand still over your neighbor's blood.'

and not bear sin...
  If one does not admonish, then he is responsible for the other's sin (Sefer HaMitzvoth, Positive 205; cf. Shabbath 54b). Or, 'do not sin through him' by embarrassing him publicly (Arkhin 16b; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 305). This is also a general commandment not to embarrass a person publicly (Ibid.).

forbidden mixture
  Of wool and linen ( Deuteronomy 22:11). Shaatnez in Hebrew. It is forbidden whether the wool and linen are spun together, woven together, or sewn together (Yad, Kelayim 10:2,3).

slave woman
  A woman who is half slave and half free (Kerithoth 11a; Yad, Issurey Biyah 3:13). Such a situation can arise if her freedom is partially bought (Gittin 41b; Yad, Avadim 7:4). Similarly, if a slave belongs to two partners, and is freed by one of them, the slave is half free (Ibid.). According to some, however, the Torah here is speaking of a woman who is fully a slave (Rabbi Yishmael, Sifra, Kerithoth 11a). According to all opinions, it is speaking of a born gentile, who was purchased as a slave by a Jew. A born Jewish woman cannot be a slave (except for a minor; see Exodus 21:7).

half married
  (cf. Ramban; Yerushalmi, Kiddushin 1:1; Radak, Sherashim). Ne-cherefeth in Hebrew. Since there is no marriage for a slave, only the 'half' of the woman who is free is married. According to those who hold that this is speaking of a woman who is a total slave, the 'marriage' is conditional, and is automatically nullified when the husband (see next comment) is given his freedom (see Exodus 21:4).

man
  The only man that a woman may marry is another slave. According to tradition, it is speaking of a case where she is married to a Hebrew slave (cf. Exodus 21:4).

redeemed
  When another person gives the slave's master money for his freedom (Yad, Avadim 5:2; Kiddushin 23a; Rashi). According to the majority opinion (above), it is speaking of the case where she was partially redeemed (Kerithoth 11a; Rashi; Malbim).

physically punished
  (Septuagint). Bakar in Hebrew. She is flogged (Yad, Issurey Biyah 3:14; Rashi). Some say that this is because she is flogged with a lash made from the skin of a large animal (bakar) (Radak, Sherashim; cf. Makkoth 22b). Or, 'she shall be disgraced' (Ibn Janach). Or, 'she is public property' and not completely married (Radak, Sherashim).

guilt offering
  Asham. See Leviticus 7:1-7.

avoid its fruit as a forbidden growth
  (Ralbag). Literally, 'you shall deem it uncircumcised.' Such fruit is known as Orlah. Or, 'You shall put it aside for destruction' (Targum); 'You shall block it [from use]' (Rashi; Rashbam), 'You shall consider it harmful' (Ibn Ezra); 'You shall consider it forbidden' (Saadia; Ibn Janach); or 'You shall purge its defilement' (Septuagint).

holy
  Like the 'second tithe' in Deuteronomy 14:23 (Sifra; Rashi; Yad, Maaser Sheni 9:1). It must therefore be eaten in Jerusalem or redeemed.

and it shall be something...
  (Rashbam). Some derive from this the rule that a blessing must be recited before eating anything (Berakhoth 35a). See Deuteronomy 8:10.

Do not eat...
  This refers to occult practices (Ramban), perhaps a meal accompanying human sacrifice (Rashbam) or eaten on a murderer's grave (Chizzkuni). Some say that the blood of a slaughtered animal would be placed in a bowl for occult purposes, and a ritual meal would be eaten with it (Radak on 1 Samuel 14:32,33; Torah Temimah). This also includes a commandment not to eat an animal before it is completely dead (Sanhedrin 63a; Rashi; Chizzkuni), and not to eat a sacrifice before the blood has been sprinkled on the altar (Ibid.). This is particularly seen as a commandment not to eat like the rebellious son in Deuteronomy 21:20 (Ibid.; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 195).

omens
  (Sanhedrin 65b; Rashi; Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 11:4; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 23). It is therefore forbidden to be concerned (Saadia) or act on the basis of superstitious bad omens (Chinukh 249). Nachash in Hebrew. Some say that this is a type of bird divination (Recanti; Septuagint, transposed).

auspicious times
  (Sanhedrin 65b; Rashi; Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 11:8). Me-onan in Hebrew. It is particularly forbidden to seek out auspicious times astrologically (Yad, loc. cit.) Some include in this any action on the basis of good omens (Saadia). Also included in this is the presenting of magical illusions (Sanhedrin 65b; Yad, loc. cit. 11:9), possibly with smoke (Ibn Ezra; Recanti on Deuteronomy 18:10).

cut off
  Some say that it is forbidden even to cut it off very close with a scissors (Tur, Yoreh Deah 181), while others maintain that the prohibition is primarily against shaving it off with a razor (Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 12:6). On the basis of this commandment, it is a Chassidic and Yemenite custom to let the side hair grow as long peyoth. This is based on Kabbalistic teachings (Shaar HaMitzvoth; Beth Lechem Yehudah on Yoreh Deah 181).

sides of your head
  This is the area of the temples and upper sideburns, between the forehead and behind the ear (Rashi, Makkoth 20a, s.v. chayav 20b, s.v. ha-mashveh; Yoreh Deah 181:9). Some translate this verse, 'do not round off the edges of your hair', indicating that the prohibition is against producing a tonsured effect by removing the hair on the sideburns and temples (Rashi). However, it is forbidden to cut off any hair in this area completely (Tosefta, Makkoth 4:4; Yoreh Deah 181:9).

shave off...
  with a razor (Makkoth 20a). However, some say that one should not even remove the beard with scissors or a depilatory, and from this is derived the prevalent custom of allowing the beard to grow.

Do not make gashes...
  As a sign of mourning (Kiddushin 35b; Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 12:12).

tattoo marks
  (See Sifethey Cohen, Yoreh Deah 180:1).

premarital sex
  Or any other sex outside of marriage (Sifra; Rashi).

mediums
  Ov in Hebrew. This is a type of necromancy, often involving a human skull (Sanhedrin 65b; Rambam, Bertenoro on Sanhedrin 7:7). It was used to communicate with the dead (1 Samuel 28:3-9). In many cases, it may involve ventriloquism, eggastrimuthos in Greek (Septuagint). The medium makes a voice appear to come from under his arm (Sanhedrin 65a,b) or from the ground (Isaiah 29:4; Ralbag, Abarbanel on 1 Samuel 28:7). The methods can also involve meditation and incense drugs (Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 6:1; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 2). He can also use these means to produce illusions and hallucinations (Saadia). Some identify the ov with pythonism, the methods of the Delphic oracle (Sanhedrin 65a). Pytho is the old name for Delphi (see Odyssey 8:79-81).

oracles
  Yedoni in Hebrew. They are described as chirping like a bird (Isaiah 8:19), perhaps a form of glossolalia. The Talmud likewise states that this involved the bone of a bird (Sanhedrin 65b), and most probably incense drugs and meditation (Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 6:2; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 9; Ralbag). Here the Septuagint translates yedoni as proskolliethiesesthe, denoting one who seeks to open the mystical. Elsewhere, it is translated as gnostas (on 1 Samuel 28:9), one who seeks gnostic experiences.

dry measure
  (Rashi; Ibn Ezra). Ephah in Hebrew, a particular measure.

liquid measure
  (Ibid.) Hin in Hebrew.





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