Don't take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai. (Lev 19:18 CJB)
In the days of the Babylonian Captivity of Judah, HaShem challenged Ezekiel the prophet with the following words,
"Human being, I have appointed you to be a watchman for the house of Isra'el. When you hear a word from my mouth, you are to warn them for me. If I say to a wicked person, 'You will certainly die'; and you fail to warn him, to speak and warn the wicked person to leave his wicked way and save his life; then that wicked person will die guilty; and I will hold you responsible for his death. On the other hand, if you warn the wicked person, and he doesn't turn from his wickedness or his wicked way, then he will still die guilty; but you will have saved your own life. (Eze 3:17-19 CJB)
WHO WAS EZEKIEL?
Ezekiel was the son of Buzzi, the priest. As such, Ezekiel was raised in the priesthood. He was raised in the high anticipation that one day he would be priest. The Babylonian Captivity changed all that. Instead of becoming a venerated priest, Ezekiel was taken captive to Babylon to prophecy the demise of Israel as a kingdom. He saw the deposing and death of its king, and the burning of the Temple.
Israel was taken captive because of its sins of disobedience to the Torah. Their disobedience found its epitome when Israel disobeyed the prophet that was sent to her to rescue her. Jeremiah indeed came with the message that could have saved Israel but Israel did not listen. Hear what HaShem said to Jeremiah,
"Adonai says this to me: 'Make yourself a yoke of straps and crossbars, and put it on your neck. Send [similar yokes] to the kings of Edom, of Mo'av, of the people of `Amon, of Tzor, and of Tzidon by means of the envoys they send to Yerushalayim, and to Tzidkiyahu king of Y'hudah. Give them this message for their masters by telling their envoys that Adonai-Tzva'ot, the God of Isra'el, says for them to tell their masters: " ' "I made the earth, humankind, and the animals on the earth by my great power and my outstretched arm; and I give it to whom it seems right to me. For now, I have given over all these lands to my servant N'vukhadnetzar the king of Bavel; I have also given him the wild animals to serve him. All the nations will serve him, his son and his grandson, until his own country gets its turn -- at which time many nations and great kings will make him their slave. The nation and kingdom that refuses to serve this N'vukhadnetzar king of Bavel, that will not put their necks under the yoke of the king of Bavel, I will punish," says Adonai "with sword, famine and plague, until I have put an end to them through him. " ' "You, therefore, don't listen to your prophets, diviners, dreamers, magicians or sorcerers, when they tell you that you won't be subject to the king of Bavel; for they are prophesying lies to you that will result in your being removed far from your land, with my driving you out, so that you perish. But the nation that puts its neck under the yoke of the king of Bavel and serves him, that nation I will allow to remain on their own soil," says Adonai. "They will farm it and live there." ' "
(Jer 27:2-11 CJB)
Jeremiah had the job to tell the king to not send his army to fight the king of Babylon.
Jeremiah had the job to tell people that they will lose the war.
Jeremiah had the job of telling people that this was all because of their sins. Jeremiah had the job to tell people that the king of babylon acted under HaShem very command.
A very unpopular message indeed. Can you imagine a prophet today who would go to the President of the United State or address congress with this sort of message?
Later Jeremiah was asked by the remnant of Judah for his opinion on going to find refuge in Egypt and after asking him what he thought, they captured him because they did not like his answer (Jer 42-43).
I wonder how Ezekiel feel about the calling to take over for Jeremiah in the Land of the Chaldeans. He must have thought, “These people are here because they disobeyed, imprisoned and tortured the prophet who was trying to tell them the truth. Pleaaaaaase HaShem, find someone else for the job !!!!”
That might explain the style of prophesying of Ezekiel. Since the people of Israel had acted as if they were deaf to the Word of G-d, Ezekiel did most of his prophesying through skits and shadow-pictures.
The presence of Jeremiah in Israel, of Daniel in the Babylonien capital, and of Ezekiel in the region of Shushan was a sign of HaShem’s mercy on Israel. Through the faithful work of these 3 prophets, Israel had more contact with the Torah than they had had before in Israel. It is where the system of synagogues, Yeshivas, and Torah study started.
Though Israel tortured and mistreated the prophet that could have saved them from the captivity; through Israel disobeyed and suffered the consequences of its arrogant pride, Ezekiel accepted the job. He accepted the job because HaShem did not give up, and if HaShem does not give up on us, who are we to give up on anyone?
Part of our text this week is one of the most famous biblical statements in the whole world; one that the great majority of religious and non-religious people in the world agree with,
Love your neighbor as yourself. (Lev 19:18 CJB)
When Jewish teachers or prophets use a part of Scripture, they do not mean to just quote that statement as if it were all by itself. They give the part of the statement that will remind people of it’s full context. For example, one would say, “I will dwell in the House of Adonai forever…” on the premise that the person listening would understand that statement within the whole context of Psalm 23. So when Yeshua used that statement from Leviticus, He also said it in the understanding that people would see that verse within its biblical context. And what is the biblical context of "Love you neighbor as yourself?" Here it is from the text.
" 'When you harvest the ripe crops produced in your land, don't harvest all the way to corners of your field, and don't gather the ears of grain left by the harvesters. Likewise, don't gather the grapes left on the vine or fallen on the ground after harvest; leave them for the poor and the foreigner; I am Adonai your God. " 'Do not steal from, defraud or lie to each other. Do not swear by my name falsely, which would be profaning the name of your God; I am Adonai. Do not oppress or rob your neighbor; specifically, you are not to keep back the wages of a hired worker all night until morning. " 'Do not speak a curse against a deaf person or place an obstacle in the way of a blind person; rather, fear your God; I am Adonai. " 'Do not be unjust in judging -- show neither partiality to the poor nor deference to the mighty, but with justice judge your neighbor. " 'Do not go around spreading slander among your people, but also don't stand idly by when your neighbor's life is at stake; I am Adonai. " 'Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly, so that you won't carry sin because of him. Don't take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai. (Lev 19:9-18 CJB)
The context helps us understand the meaning of the statement. In this case, to love your neighbor as yourself means that,
- (Lev 19:9 CJB) " 'When you harvest the ripe crops produced in your land, don't harvest all the way to corners of your field, and don't gather the ears of grain left by the harvesters.
- (Lev 19:10 CJB) Don't gather the grapes left on the vine or fallen on the ground after harvest; leave them for the poor and the foreigner; I am Adonai your God.
(or “show your gratitude to God for a good harvest by giving to the less fortunate
- (Lev 19:11 CJB) " 'Do not steal from, defraud or lie to each other.
Part of love is honesty in business; not to always try to get the fatter end of the stick at the detriment of others.
- (Lev 19:12 CJB) Do not swear by my name falsely, which would be profaning the name of your God; I am Adonai.
Which can be understood as saying in HaShem’s Name things He did not actually say but are from our own mind.
- (Lev 19:13 CJB) Do not oppress or rob your neighbor; specifically, you are not to keep back the wages of a hired worker all night until morning.
Or pay fair wages that allow your worker a decent humane lifestyle.
- (Lev 19:14 CJB) " 'Do not speak a curse against a deaf person or place an obstacle in the way of a blind person; rather, fear your God; I am Adonai.
He who is deaf is like one who does not understand words. Do not therefore curse he who does not understand but like Adonai with Israel (and with each of us) be patient and repeat the lesson as many times as is needed.
He who is blind is like one who is ignorant. Do not put a stumbling block on his path in the way of erroneous teachings.
- (Lev 19:15 CJB) " 'Do not be unjust in judging -- show neither partiality to the poor nor deference to the mighty, but with justice judge your neighbor.
Justice should be provided in the same manner for rich and poor, famous and unknown. It should have nothing to do with financial payments or incentives (should we call those “bribes?”)
- (Lev 19:16 CJB) " 'Do not go around spreading slander among your people, but also don't stand idly by when your neighbor's life is at stake; I am Adonai.
Do not spread negativity about others (even if it is true. It could be that that it is true only in your eyes!)
Rescue you brothers from verbal attacks.
- (Lev 19:17 CJB) " 'Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly, so that you won't carry sin because of him.
To not hate (with no “ifs” and“buts”) is a Torah commandment. If someone wronged us we are to go to them personally and explain to them just as Yeshua said, not keep resentment and hate them.
- (Lev 19:18 CJB) Don't take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai.
Vengeance belongs to Adonai. Our job is to love and forgive ohers as He loves and forgives us. A way to do that is to use the same grace and mercy we use on ourselves and our mistakes on others.
HERE I A SMALL ARTICLE FROM RABBI ZEL;IG PLISKIN ABOUT THIS TEXT:
You shall be holy" (Lev.19:2).
"This week's Parsha, Kedoshim, seems to make an unreasonable demand of every Jew by commanding us "to be holy." How many of us can spend our days meditating and learning the Torah, only involved with "holy" concerns?
However, the Torah then continues and tells us to be in awe of our parents, to be completely honest in business, and to always keep your word -- with no excuses. We are told to be sensitive to the weak and downtrodden and to be generous and gracious to the poor. These laws are juxtaposed to the Sabbath and other ritual laws.
One of the ideas behind this is that holiness is found not only in the synagogue and rituals, but in our business dealings, in our social relationships, and in those relationships which we tend to take for granted, such as our parents, our spouses. We need to take the lessons of the Torah and apply them to every aspect of our daily lives. That is how we attain genuine holiness."
What is called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) teaches us much needed applications of the very same principles we read in Par’shat K’doshim. The parasha signs off this teaching on the applications of holy behavior with,
Therefore consecrate yourselves -- you people must be holy, because I am Adonai your God. (Lev 20:7 CJB)
Rather, you people are to be holy for me; because I, Adonai, am holy; and I have set you apart from the other peoples, so that you can belong to me. (Lev 20:26 CJB)