Thursday, May 04, 2006
Does 'kedoshim' count as 1 of the 613 mitzvos?
Before Pesach I said I wanted to do a series on Sefer haMitzvos (henceforth: SH"M) to have some focus – there have been too many other nice things to write about, so that has not gotten off the ground. Consider this a late start. Rashi understands “kedoshim t’hiyu” to be an additional warning about the issurei arayos which are recorded at the end of Acharei Mos (is Rashi’s real concern the smichus haparshiyos?) The Rambam, in a famous comment, writes that “kedoshim t’hiyu” is a separate mitzvah to live a life of holiness, which means acting not only within the technical framework of the law, but within the spirit of the law as well. The Ramban's approach here is similar to his comments to “v’asita hayashar v’hatov” – unless one appreciates the value system conveyed by the law and acts in accordance with it, one risks becoming a “naval b’reshus haTorah”, a person who has not violated any specific injunction but is nonetheless ethically abhorrent. Id the Ramban means literally that this is counted as a mitzva, we run afoul of one of the basic principles in counting mitzvos. In the fourth shoresh in SH"M, the Rambam tells us that a general instruction cannot be counted as a mitzvah. If this were not true, our mitzvos would number in the hundreds, as each general command to keep mitzvos itself would count as another mitzvah. The Ramban in his gloss to the Sefer haMitzvos defends the BH”G’s count of “v’heyisem kedoshim” as a mitzvah which prohibits eating sheratzim, but he interestingly makes no mention of his own interpretation of this pasuk. Perhaps the Ramban understood that the overarching idea of kedusha in a din d’oraysa, but it is not formally counted an one of the 613.