"Before a Blind Person, Do Not Place a Stumbling Block"
In this week’s Torah Portion, Parshat Kedoshim, we are taught an important lesson in what it means to be part of the Jewish Nation. Namely to care for each other. While this sounds simple, the truth is that caring for other people (especially when its inconvenient) is one of the most difficult Mitzvot to accomplish.
The Torah states, “…. before a blind person, do not place a stumbling block; you shall fear your G-d; I am Hashem” (Leviticus 19:14). Rashi in his commentary explains this verse as an admonishment to refrain from intentionally giving advice to a fellow Jew which will be detrimental to him and beneficial to yourself. The Rambam explains it differently. In his Sefer Hamitzvot (Mitzvah 232) he explains that this commandment requires us to not cause another Jew to sin.
While Rashi and the Rambam disagree on the details of the commandment there is a common thread between them. This commonality is ensuring the welfare of every Jew, either physically according to Rashi, or spiritually according to the Rambam.
The Talmud states, “All Jews are responsible for one another” (Shavuot 39a). Simply put it is a clear directive requiring us to look out for one another, both spiritually and physically. It is this unity that has allowed the Jewish nation to endure over the years, maintaining our rich heritage and traditions. We have a sense of unity that other nations lack and we look out for our brothers and sisters.
At Neshama, our goal is to provide proper care for the deceased guaranteeing that all our traditions are kept. We provide the Neshama (soul) with its physical and spiritual needs during its journey to the World to Come. Unfortunately, close to 50% of our brothers and sisters are choosing cremation over burial. When a cremation is stopped, we are fulfilling the Mitzvah of caring for another Jew to the fullest extent. We are providing good advice and preventing the physical harm of a cremation fulfilling Rashi’s understanding. Additionally, we are keeping a Jew from sinning and providing spiritual safety for the soul fulfilling the Rambam’s understanding of the Mitzvah.
In doing this Mitzvah, may we merit to see a time when cremation is no more!