In the beginning of Parshat Emor Hashem speaks to Moshe. "
Daber el ha'kohanim v'amarta aleihem.
Speak to the
and say to them." Why the double language? Rashi explains that it teaches us that the adult
have a responsibility to teach their younger counterparts the laws pertaining to
such as not coming in contact with the dead. The Midrash gives us another explanation. Man has an inborn evil inclination. It's not natural for him to do the will of Hashem. That is why people need to be commanded twice. However, angels automatically do Hashem's will. They know what to do when they receive one command.
However, if this is true, then the Torah should use this double phrasing for all
. What does the double language here teach us and how is it connected to
relates a story from the
A group of young children who were just beginning to learn the
were once asked to explain the meaning of the Hebrew letters. When the children got to the letter
they said there were two, an open and closed
. An open
stands for a
, an open saying, while a closed
stands for a
, a closed saying. Rashi explains that one indicates the revealed Torah and the other the hidden Torah. The Maharsha further extrapolates that the closed
refers to the hidden saying of
, the first of the ten sayings with which Hashem created the world. The other nine sayings, which are revealed, signify the open
. Understanding how Hashem created the world out of nothing is something that is concealed and completely beyond our grasp. It is easier for us to relate to things that are already formed and shaped.
further teaches that when Hashem created the world, He said, "Let there be light... Let there be heavens..." and his saying created reality because that is the nature of the utterings of Hashem. In our world, when we say we want to do something, we must endure an entire process before we reach out goal. But for Hashem, His word comes into existence right away. Just as Hashem created something physical when He spoke, so too when He gave us the positive and negative commandments he created a reality. When Hashem told the
not to become contaminated by the dead, he created within them a reality that makes this natural.
There is a spiritual potential within them that keeps them away from impurity. However, the body doesn't let this spiritual power express itself fully, just as the soul doesn't express itself fully. All this is to allow for free choice. The job of the
is to activate that potential to an extent that it would be impossible to violate Hashem's commandment.
When Hashem commanded us not to speak
He instilled within us the potential not to do so. Our job is to activate this potential to the extent that it becomes impossible for us to hear or speak
. When someone would tell
to the Chofetz Chaim, he physically didn't hear it. The investment in doing the will of Hashem brings it from potential to actuality. When a person feels a temptation to speak badly about others and instead he studies the laws, thinks about how to improve, says no again and again, he activates the potential within him so that it becomes possible.
All Jewish people share a basic level of holiness. But then there are differences based on several different levels and status. Hashem gave varying potentials to different Jews. Therefore, they were given different
because the commandments activate the potential within each of us. The
have a special level of holiness. By telling us about the laws that apply to them, the Torah teaches us the basic concept that Hashem gives each of us
related to our own level of holiness. In Tehilim the verse says, "
Imrot Hashem amarot tahorot
. The sayings of Hashem are pure sayings." Hashem's words create holiness within us. What is true for the
is true for all of us. When Hashem gave us the mitzvot, He first created a potential and then taught us how to activate it. The Gra explains, when we say a blessing we say, "
Asher kedishanu b'mitzvotav
, who sanctified us with his commandments." This refers to the potential He created within us. We can develop and activate it through the
This is true about every saying of Hashem. When a person activates a mitzvah to a very high degree he can influence and affect others to in turn develop their potential. Life generates life.
The 613 mitzvot are divided in two groups, 248 positive and 365 negative
. These correspond to the 248 limbs and 365 sinews of the body. The
explains that there are 613 aspects to our spiritual potential. Each one was created when Hashem gave us a particular mitzvah because mitzvot are the medium to activate our potential. Just as one can't turn on a car the same way one turns on a microwave, every mitzvah has a different potential and is activated differently. In turn, each
has the ability to develop a different aspect of ourselves. Only when we keep the whole Torah can we become perfect beings, as all of our inner essence is activated and we achieve our full potential. When Hashem uttered the Ten Commandments, which encompass the whole Torah, He created within us a spiritual potential that has 613 aspects to it. Along with this He gave us the guidelines how to activate them. The negative mitzvot teach us how not to ruin that potential and the positive commandments tell us how to develop it.