In our mouths and in our hearts: Day 2

Today: Be excellent to each other. Idolatry is bad.
16. “Reprove your kin…” (Leviticus 19:17)
17. “…but incur no guilt on their account.” (Leviticus 19:17) = don’t shame them
18. “Do not mistreat any widow or orphan.” (Exodus 22:21)
19. “Do not deal basely with your people.” (Leviticus 19:16)
20. “Don’t take vengeance.” (Leviticus 19:18)
21. “Don’t bear a grudge.” (Leviticus 19:18)
22. “Teach them to your children.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) = learn/teach Torah
23. “Show deference to the old.” (Leviticus 19:32) = according to the Rambam, this refers to teachers of Torah
24. “Don’t turn to idols.” (Leviticus 19:4)
25. “Don’t go astray after your hearts and your eyes.” (Numbers 15:39)
26. “Do not curse God.” (Exodus 22:27)
27. “Do not serve [idols].” (Exodus 20:5)
28. “Do not bow down to [idols].” (Exodus 20:5)
29. “Do not make a sculptured image for yourself.” (Exodus 20:4)
30. “Do not make molten gods for yourselves.” (Leviticus 19:4) = this is in the plural, so the Rambam understands #29 as making for yourself, and #30 as making for others.

6 thoughts on “In our mouths and in our hearts: Day 2

  1. First of all… 29. “Do not make a sculptured image for yourself.” (Exodus 20:4)
    Could this be why half of New York is up in arms about the chocolate Jesus statue? Just a thought…
    On a more serious note…
    17. “…but incur no guilt on their account.” (Leviticus 19:17) = don’t shame them
    Really? That’s not how I read this. As an example, I think of a Law & Order episode I saw once (because torah always reminds me of Law & Order…) in which a teenager killed someone and her father confessed so that she wouldn’t go to jail. He was incurring the guilt on her account, as far as I can tell, and while I can understand the urge to take the blame for someone else in certain situations, I don’t think it’s right; it’s still lying, and arguably harms both parties more than it solves any problem.
    (I can’t believe I just used L&O as an example for this, but hey, I’ve only had one cup of coffee so far today.)

  2. #25 (made famous in the third paragraph of the Shema) is an important point. It doesn’t say that we shouldn’t have thoughts about doing the wrong thing; on the contrary, it implies that we will have those thoughts, but says that we shouldn’t act on them. (“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” –James Madison) #20 is a good example — we all have thoughts about revenge, and this is inescapable, but we should still refrain from acting on these thoughts.

  3. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I have sort of the same concern with #16, “Reprove your kin,” as I did yesterday with #11, “Walk in God’s ways.” Both sound nice on the surface (well, okay, maybe “reprove your kin” doesn’tt sound nice, even on the surface), but both can be used to affirm VERY different patterns of behavior. “Speaking truth to power” or calling other Jews for failing to act on basic social justice questions seems like a good way to fulfill this mitzvah. But isn’t an Orthodox rabbi also “reproving” his kin when he refuses to participate in a rabbinical council with a Reform rabbi? His criticism of the Reform Jew for not acting “Jewish” enough (in his eyes), seems to be in keeping with #16 (by reproving the Reform rabbi, perhaps he’ll eventually show the rabbi the error of being a Reform Jew, and thus bring one more person to a Torah observant life, again, from his perspective). So this one always strikes me as a bit of a challenge to pluralism. And this is similar to the problem with #11 – how a leftie social justice activist can feel that she is “walking in God’s ways” just as strongly as can the extreme right settler in Hebron. Both “walk” based on their understanding of WWGD, both “reprove” other Jews based on what they think is worthy of reproval. And then we get into the argument of who is living a more authentic Jewish life, and goodbye pluralism….

  4. I’ve always liked this one in the Hebrew

    “Don’t go astray after your hearts and your eyes.”

    The phrase “go astray” in the Hebrew connotes whoring oneself, saying what the heart and eyes perceive is inferior to what the mind/Torah-teaching knows, but casting the two as somehow sexually impure.
    I do believe that what the Torah means here is that emotions and reason can be misleading. The Torah is good and tells you what to do (a la parashat nitzavim (natati lechem et hatov veet hara, behar batov…)and the book of judges/deuteronomist). For me, this means simply leheve metun bedin, to weigh what I perceive and feel with what I know is good and true before acting on it.

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