Divrei Torah

PARSHAS ACHAREI 5779

This week’s Parsha deals with staying alive - choosing life. In the middle of the Parsha we read, “and you shall keep my laws and my commandments that a person should do them and live by them.” The Talmud derives from this verse that a person who is faced with the choice of committing a sin, or being murdered, the Halacha – with three exceptions - requires the person to commit the sin and not die. Why? Because “you should live by the Mitzvos” and not die by them.

The Torah is telling us that human life is more precious than keeping the mitzvos. With three exceptions, your life is more valuable than the Mitzvos. If it is necessary to sin – if it is necessary to violate Shabbos and preserve life - it is an obligation from the Torah to do so in order that the person will have the opportunity to do more mitzvos later. Unfortunately, this view is not adapted by all. There are religions that do not sanctify life as we do. There are people who do not sanctify life as we do – witness the murders in Pittsburgh six months ago, in Poway this past Shabbos and recent shootings in other houses of worship around the globe

The Jewish people’s nature is to do what they can to preserve life – just read examples from how the Israeli army conducts itself and takes casualties in order not to harm civilians.

That is one example of how we sanctify life. However, our role in sanctifying life is not restricted to life-death situations. How we deal with others is also a matter of sanctifying life. In next week’s parsha we read “And I will be sanctified among the Jewish people.” When we sanctify the name of G-d, we are also sanctifying life. G-d forbid, when we profane the name of G-d, we are not sanctifying life.

We are obligated to observe the Halacha and the specifics of the Halacha. However, we are also obligated to act in a manner that is consistent with the Torah’s values and goals – sanctify G-d . . . sanctify life.