I am not what you might call a “scientific” person. (Shocking, I know.) Numbers, equations, and elements have never really been my strong suit. I had a difficult time getting through every one of the high school science classes I was required to take because my mind simply does not click that way. However, at a basic level, something like Newton’s laws of motion are easy enough for me to grasp. You’re telling me an object in motion stays in motion? Now that makes immediate sense in my mind because I can visualize it. Unless an obstacle or some other force interacts with an object, it will continue to remain at rest or remain in motion.
But as I said, I’m not that into science. On the other hand, I am into metaphors. This law of motion appears to apply to so many things in life beyond just the physical. Whether it’s a bad situation that spirals out of control or a lucky streak that carries us for a time, life moves us. Sometimes we act to try to speed it up or slow it down, but life is continually moving.
Our Torah portion this week, parshat Kedoshim, speaks to that very nature of life. Parshat Kedoshim deals with what is known as the “Holiness Code” which helps us to understand how we can walk in God’s ways and create a community of relationship and understanding. These are the laws that govern how we treat one another, how we care for one another, and how we establish a society based truly on respect.
In these laws comes one of the better known phrases in the Torah: “Thou shall not put a stumbling block before the blind or insult the deaf.” This mitzvah serves to remind us not to make someone else’s life harder, even and especially when it’s done anonymously.
At a deeper level, a “stumbling block” could be any force that acts on a person “in motion.” An object thrown upward would continue its trajectory were it not for gravity acting on it to bring it down. The Torah is instructing us not to be that force. Do not weigh someone else’s life down simply because you can.
Why stop there? This law applies to how we get in our own way as well. You won’t soar to greatness if you let your own negative forces slow you down. That may sound like it belongs on a cheesy inspirational poster underneath a picture of a cat on a tightrope, but it’s still true. How much more could you achieve if you made a conscious effort to keep all those cynical, defeatist thoughts out of the equation? Let’s be honest. It’s not rocket science.