For an explanation of the methodology of this series, see the introduction.

"For I am the L-rd your G‑d, and you shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, because I am holy, and you shall not defile yourselves through any creeping creature that crawls on the ground." (Lev. 11:44)

Peshat (basic meaning):

Rashi: For I am the L-rd your G‑d
Just as I am holy, for I am the L-rd your G‑d, so too, you shall make yourselves holy, [i.e.,] sanctify yourselves below [on earth].

and be holy:
before Me, for I will make you holy above and in the world to come.

and you shall not defile yourselves
[This prohibition is written to make a culprit] guilty of transgressing many negative commandments. And for [the violation of] each negative commandment, [the guilty party receives] lashes.
This is what [the Sages] said: "If one eats a putisa [a small unclean aquatic creature], one receives four series of lashes [i.e., four separate series of lashes for the four negative commandments transgressed by eating that one creature]; if one eats an ant, one receives five series of lashes; if one eats a hornet [he receives] six series of lashes." (Makot 16)

One should sanctify oneself at the time of marital relations.

Remez (hinted meaning):

Baal HaTurim: "and you shall sanctify yourselves"
One should sanctify oneself at the time of marital relations.

"do not defile yourself"
One may not restrain one's bowels. [The connection between the 2 parts of the verse is that] after leaving the lavatory, one should not immediately engage in marital relations.

Derash (interpretive meaning):

Ohr HaChayim: "for I am the L-rd your G‑d"
He has not described himself as G‑d of any other nation. That obligates us to keep our distance from anything which contaminates us.

"Sanctify yourselves and be holy"
If we do our share in trying to deserve the title Holy, G‑d will bestow the title upon us by not letting us get contaminated. This also means to erect protective legal fences to reduce the likelihood of contracting impurity.

"for I am holy"
G‑d made his presence among us dependant on our keeping ourselves apart from contaminating influences.

Sod (esoteric, mystical meaning):

Zohar Shemini 41:
Come and see: it is written, "Israel, in whom I will be glorified". (Isaiah 49:3) If G‑d is glorified by Israel, how can they defile themselves and cling to the Side of Uncleanness? Therefore, it is written: "you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy: for I am holy", and, "you shall not make your souls abominable."

If G‑d is glorified by Israel, how can they defile themselves...?

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
If we only knew, really knew, in our heart of hearts, how special it is to be a member of Israel! Chosen for a unique mission in world history to behold the Revelation at Sinai, distill it for the nations, and be a beacon of holiness for our earth plane.

Not better. That’s not the idea at all. Rather, Special. With a special mission. A special mission encoded in our spiritual DNA that heard the letter Alef at Mount Sinai, and forever were different.

Maybe that's one reason why we are not to eat creepy crawling things on either land or sea , other than our instinctive distaste. These creatures bring us down; the spark of holiness in them is too embedded to be retrieved and elevated.

Yes, surely, perhaps more harm comes from what comes out of our mouth than what goes into it [i.e. slander and malicious talk, which can cause the Tzora'at, as we will learn next week].

The Holy-ness code of Vayikra begins.

May it open us all up to a higher consciousness. Amen.

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