Acharey Moth: Live Your Life

“You shall keep My statutes, and My ordinances, which a man shall do and live by them…” (Leviticus 18:5)

What does the Torah add by telling us that a man shall perform the laws of the Torah and “live by them”? Obviously, if one lives, one must fulfill the Torah, for if one no longer lives, what can one fulfill? This peculiar phrase exists nowhere else in the Torah. What message do these words convey?

Famously, our Sages derive from these words that one should live by the law, but not die by the law. That is, except in certain outstanding situations, the Torah requires that we violate its laws to rescue a life.

However, the wording lends itself to a subtly different meaning, that is, that one should “be lively in them,” in the performance of the commandments. One should fulfill the commandments with “liveliness” — energy and enthusiasm (leibedigkeit, as we would say in Yiddish) — not as rote, robotic acts, or worse, as burdensome labors.

May we merit to feel the ultimate pleasure of connection to G-d, the very source of life, in our fulfillment of His Will, and perform all His commands with requisite liveliness, enthusiasm and ecstasy.

Based on Shla”h, Parshas Acherey Moth

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