The Torah portion of Kedoshim gathers together all those people in our surroundings who would seem to be “transparent” and gives us a specific commandment about each one. We must not put a stumbling block in front of a blind person or curse a deaf person, we must set aside grains as charity for the stranger and the poor, and we should not delay in paying the salary of a workman.
What all these people who are mentioned in this week’s Torah portion have in common is that they are all a type of person that we might find easy to ignore. We usually do not have conversations with them, and we might even not pay attention to them without realizing that we are doing something out of the ordinary. It is true that at times this is not exactly an “innocent” action but rather taking advantage of the fact that they are from the “silent” part of our society, which quite often would not have the temerity to open their mouths or to make demands of somebody who is above their class.
Don’t Tell the Rebbe
It is said that a Chassid used to behave in an improper way in his house. One time a friend came to him and said that he should change his behavior, because G-d in heaven sees what he does, even in the deepest sealed room. The Chassid was surprised by the reprimand, and he said: “So what if G-d sees?” His friend replied: “He will tell the Rebbe!”
Quite often a person’s fear of G-d is measured by his external deeds and his behavior as they are perceived by others. It might be possible to mistakenly label somebody as “G-d fearing” because in normal surroundings his external behavior appears to be honest and righteous. However, the Torah portion of Kedoshim gives new meaning to the concept of “fearing G-d” and establishes a completely different set of parameters than those we usually see.
The Fear of G-d is His Treasure
The “fear of G-d” in Kedoshim involves a situation where nobody else pays any attention to a person’s actions. It takes place on the side, in secret, when the eyes of another person do not analyze or pay attention to what is happening. That is when the true question of whether somebody fears G-d or not appears.
When a blind person comes towards you and you put an obstacle in his way, neither he nor anybody else will know what you did. When a friend comes to ask for help and you give him bad advice, nobody else can tell exactly what you are thinking.
In such situations, when you are in contact with such “transparent” and weak individuals, you can do whatever you want, without being disturbed and without fear of people looking at you and measuring your level of “fear.” Then, specifically, when nobody else is looking over your shoulder, when everything is in your hands and the rest of the world does not see what you are doing, your fear of G-d is tested. Then there is only one other who truly knows – You Father in Heaven.
They have All been Gathered Here for You
And that explains why all of these “transparent” people have been collected together in one place in the portion of Kedoshim. Poor person, stranger, one who is blind, one who is deaf, one who is destitute – all of them, side by side. They are all here to teach us that true fear of G-d means to pay attention to those people who are often left at the margins of society, who fill a role that many people do not see at all.
And that is why the Torah repeats the mitzva to fear the Holy One, Blessed be He, together with the prohibitions to trip up a blind person and to curse a deaf one. This is to emphasize that in just such situations – when the blind man does not see and the deaf one does not hear what you say, when everything remains your secret – is when your fear of G-d will be put to a test.