Thou Shalt Not Mix

weekly Torah reading: parashas Ki Seitzei 5782

 “Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together.”

– Deuteronomy 22:11, JPS 1917 Tanach

“Seeing that the first two human beings who were born on earth were of different species, (Kayin and Hevel), one being the result of the evil genes of the serpent, the other that of Adam’s divinely inspired spirit, and we are commanded to keep our distance from the spirit of impurity, mixing the species has been forbidden for us as we have learned the fatal consequences which this could have.” – R. Bachya, commentary on Leviticus 19:19, sefaria.org

The fundamental differences between Kayin (Cain) and Hevel (Abel) are reflected in the nature of the offerings that each brought to H’Shem. “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the L-RD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the L-RD had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect” (Genesis 4:3-5 JPS). A qualitative difference between Abel and Cain’s offering is inferred. Cain’s offering was linseed (Midrash Tanchuma, Bereishis 9), whereas Abel brought the choicest of his flock.

 If Abel brought from his sheep, then this could correspond to the wool, mentioned in the commandment, while Cain’s offering would be represented by linen. The commandment forbids “wool and linen together.” This rendering would reinforce the underlying differences between Cain and Abel. If we are to be more like Abel, giving the best of ourselves as an offering to H’Shem through our good deeds, then, we should not compromise our standing with H’Shem by following the poor example of Cain. Rather, we should maintain excellency in all of our endeavors, both towards G-d and man, without permitting our intentions to become mixed with ulterior motives.

Memorable Moments

B”H

motzei Shabbos: parashas Ki Seitzei 5781

parashas Ki Seitzei 5781

 “Remember [zachor] what the L-RD your G-d did to Miriam on the journey after you left Egypt.” – Deuteronomy 24:9, JPS 1985 Tanach

The Targum paraphrases, delineating the import of the commandment, “Be mindful that no one contemn his neighbor, lest he be smitten: remember that which the L-rd your G-d did to Miriam, who contemned Mosheh for that which was not in him, when she was smitten with leprosy, and you were delayed in the way when coming out of Mizraim” (Targum Jonathan, sefaria.org). Miriam had been critical of her brother Moshe; so, she was chastised with leprosy as a punishment for her lashon hara. This commandment to remember the event, is a stark reminder of the consequences of slander.

Moreover, this commandment is one of the six remembrances, required to recollect every day. Traditionally this is done by reading the list of six remembrances after the morning prayers. So, as one of the six narratives from the Torah that are significant enough to be recalled every day, is what H’Shem “did to Miriam on the journey.” Therefore, the gravity of this aveirah (sin) is serious enough for the historical event to be designated as something to recall everyday. The Ramban explains, “meaning that you mention it always in the utterance of words” (sefaria.org).

Is not this the path to memorization? In the words of King David, “Thy word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11, JPS 1917 Tanach). And this is the entire intent – to place these words upon our heart, inasmuch that in Biblical language, the heart represents the mind. We are to remember, if not actually memorize, not only the six remembrances: rather, especially those words from the pasukim (verses) that will guide our lives in the right direction, away from sin.

shiur: Mingled Stuff

 “Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together.”

– Deuteronomy 22:11, JPS 1917 Tanach

“Seeing that the first two human beings who were born on earth were of different species, (Kayin and Hevel), one being the result of the evil genes of the serpent, the other that of Adam’s divinely inspired spirit, and we are commanded to keep our distance from the spirit of impurity, mixing the species has been forbidden for us as we have learned the fatal consequences which this could have.” – R. Bachya, commentary on Leviticus 19:19, sefaria.org

The fundamental differences between Kayin (Cain) and Hevel (Abel) are reflected in the nature of the offerings that each brought to H’Shem. “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the L-RD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the L-RD had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect” (Genesis 4:3-5 JPS). A qualitative difference between Abel and Cain’s offerieng is inferred. Cain’s offering was linseed (Midrash Tanchuma, Bereishis 9), whereas Abel brought the choicest of his flock.

 If Abel brought from his sheep, then this could correspond to the wool, mentioned in the previous commandment, while Cain’s offering would be represented by linen. The commandment forbids “wool and linen together.” This rendering would reinforce the underlying differences between Cain and Abel. If we are to be more like Abel, giving the best of ourselves as an offering to the L-RD through our good deeds, then, we should not compromise our standing with the L-RD by following the poor example of Cain at all. Rather, we should maintain excellency in all of our endeavors, both towards G-d and man.

dvar: Think Twice

“That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt observe and do; according as thou hast vowed freely unto the L-RD thy G-d, even that which thou hast promised with thy mouth.”

– Deuteronomy 23:24, JPS 1917 Tanach

The Torah records the positive commandment to observe whatever commitments we speak of through our own words. Although it is not advisable to make a vow these days, we are to be careful about fulfilling the promises we make with ourselves and others through our spoken words. “I will perform unto Thee my vows, which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken” (Psalm 66:13-14, JPS).

Otherwise, we will be held accountable for not following through on our words. Of course, this only applies to kind speech and intentions, whereas if we have said anything hurtful to another person, we should apologize in due time, and certainly not act upon anything said hastily, that could have negative consequences if acted upon. G-d forbid.

Positive speech is recommended at all times, when speaking to others, as well as when speaking of others. It is better to bless than to curse; i.e., it is better to speak well of people, than to speak ill of them. When we consider our words, before speaking, we should refrain from saying anything negative. “Set a guard, O L-RD, to my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3, JPS). “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile” (Psalm 34:14, JPS).

Additionally, even our thoughts should be pure, as exemplified by the following pasuk (verse), “Thou hast tried my heart, Thou hast visited it in the night; Thou hast tested me, and Thou findest not that I had a thought which should not pass my mouth” (Psalm 17:3, JPS 1917 Tanach). For as we think, will be as we act; unless, we can scrutinize our thoughts, reconfigure our intentions, and not act upon our unconscious motives, without reflecting upon our actions.

A Singular Effort

B”H

Shiur for parashas Ki Seitzei 5780

“Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together.”

  • Deuteronomy 22:11, JPS 1917 Tanach

“Seeing that the first two human beings who were born on earth were of different species, (Kayin and Hevel), one being the result of the evil genes of the serpent, the other that of Adam’s divinely inspired spirit, and we are commanded to keep our distance from the spirit of impurity, mixing the species has been forbidden for us as we have learned the fatal consequences which this could have.”

  • R. Bachya, commentary on Leviticus 19:19, sefaria.org

The fundamental differences between Kayin (Cain) and Hevel (Abel) are reflected in the nature of the offerings that each brought to H’Shem. “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the L-RD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the L-RD had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect” (Genesis 4:3-5 JPS). A qualitative difference between Abel and Cain’s offerieng is inferred. Cain’s offering was linseed (Midrash Tanchuma, Bereishis 9), whereas Abel brought the choicest of his flock.

If Abel brought from his sheep, then this could correspond to the wool, mentioned in the previous commandment, while Cain’s offering would be represented by linen. The commandment forbids “wool and linen together.” This rendering would reinforce the underlying differences between Cain and Abel. If we are to be more like Abel, giving the best of ourselves as an offering to H’Shem through our good deeds, then, we should not compromise our standing with H’Shem by following the poor example of Cain at all. Rather, we should maintain excellency in all of our endeavors, both towards G-d and man.