Acharei Mot - Passion and Inspiration

You shall observe My statutes and My ordinances, which a man shall do and live by them.
וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת חֻקֹּתַי וְאֶת מִשְׁפָּטַי אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה אֹתָם הָאָדָם וָחַי בָּהֶם

Vayikra 18:5

In Mesechet Yoma (85B), there is an exploration amongst various Tannahs into what is the source of the reasoning that Pikuach Nefesh (saving a life) takes precedence over observing Shabbat.

R. Ishmael, R. Akiba and R. Eleazar b. Azariah were once on a journey, with Levi ha-Saddar 20
and R. Ishmael son of R. Eleazar b. Azariah following them. Then this question was asked of them:
Whence do we know that in the case of danger to human life that the laws of the Sabbath are suspended?
— R. Ishmael answered and said: If a thief be found breaking in.21 Now if in the case of this one it is doubtful whether he has come to take money or life; and although the shedding of blood pollutes the
land, so that the Shechinah departs from Israel, yet it is lawful to save oneself at the cost of his life how much more may one suspend the laws of the Sabbath to save human life!
— R. Akiba answered and said: If a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour etc. thou shalt take him from My altar, that he may die.22 I.e., only off the altar, but not down from the altar.23 And in connection therewith
— Rabbah b. Bar Hana said in the name of R. Johanan: That was taught only when one's life is to be
forfeited, but to save life1 one may take one down even from the altar. Now if in the case of this one, where it is doubtful whether there is any substance in his words or not, yet [he interrupts] the service in the Temple [which is important enough to] suspend the Sabbath, how much more should the saving of human life suspend the Sabbath laws!
— R. Eleazar answered and said: If circumcision, which attaches to one only of the two hundred and forty-eight members of the human body, suspends the Sabbath,2 how much more shall [the saving of] the whole body suspend the Sabbath!
— R. Jose son of R. Judah said: Only ye shall keep My Sabbaths,’3 one might assume under all circumstances, therefore the text reads: ‘Only’ viz, allowing for exceptions.4 R. Jonathan b. Joseph said: For it is holy unto you;5 I.e., it [the Sabbath] is committed to your hands, not you to its hands.

The Amorah, Rav Yehudah said in the name of Samuel: If I had been there, I should have told them something better than what they said: "He shall live by them,"(Vayikra 18:5) but he shall not die because of them.

So we see from here that the verse "live by them" comes to tell us that in face of transgressing a mitzvah, it is preferred to transgress and live (except in 3 cases: spilling blood, illicit relations, and idolatry).

Eternal Life
On the other hand, the translation of Onkeles brings another perspective to this verse. Targum Onkleles describes this verse as "chayei alma" - eternal life, which refers to The World to Come. Furthermore, even if there is any doubt about the interpretation that Targum Onkeles brings, Rashi states the same position with straightforward, concrete terms.
"and live by them": in the World-To-Come. For if you say [that the verse refers to living] in this world, does [everyone] not eventually die? 
Torath Kohanim 18:134
Thus we face a conflict. On the one hand "live by them" means to live in this world, and on the other hand this expression refers to another life, life in the world to come. Which is it?

Passion for Life
The Slonimer Rebbe brings in The Netivot Shalom an insight that clarifies this contradiction, saying that both of these approaches are valid and word of Hashem.

He brings a teaching from the Karliner Rebbe, saying when one reached the world to come an announcement went out that he kept Shabbat diligently according to all the details of the statutes of Shabbat. Yet just as this one kept Shabbat perfectly but without enthusiasm for Oneg Shabbat, so also his experience in the world to come is dry and didactic without Oneg.

Says The Slonimer, we learn from this that how we perform the mitzvot impact the type of world to come that we create for ourselves. Where we perform mitzvot with passion, excitement and enthusiasm so also is that feeling carried over to our world to come. Likewise, explains The Slonimer, transgressions impact life on the other side, as he explains that the fires of Gehenom are lit by the transgressions of this world.

So we see we can bring these two seemingly contradictory points of view together on the meaning of the verse "live by them." It is both about this world and the next, for just how we approach the mitzvot in this world directly impact and shape how we will experience our place in the world to come.

Shimini - Integrity

But these you shall not eat among those that bring up the cud and those that have a cloven hoof: the camel, because it brings up its cud, but does not have a [completely] cloven hoof; it is unclean for you. And the hyrax, because it brings up its cud, but will not have a [completely] cloven hoof; it is unclean for you; And the hare, because it brings up its cud, but does not have a [completely] cloven hoof; it is unclean for you; And the pig, because it has a cloven hoof that is completely split, but will not regurgitate its cud; it is unclean for you.
אַךְ אֶת זֶה לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִמַּעֲלֵי הַגֵּרָה וּמִמַּפְרִסֵי הַפַּרְסָה אֶת הַגָּמָל כִּי מַעֲלֵה גֵרָה הוּא וּפַרְסָה אֵינֶנּוּ מַפְרִיס טָמֵא הוּא לָכֶם. וְאֶת הַשָּׁפָן כִּי מַעֲלֵה גֵרָה הוּא וּפַרְסָה לֹא יַפְרִיס טָמֵא הוּא לָכֶם. וְאֶת הָאַרְנֶבֶת כִּי מַעֲלַת גֵּרָה הִוא וּפַרְסָה לֹא הִפְרִיסָה טְמֵאָה הִוא לָכֶם. וְאֶת הַחֲזִיר כִּי מַפְרִיס פַּרְסָה הוּא וְשֹׁסַע שֶׁסַע פַּרְסָה וְהוּא גֵּרָה לֹא יִגָּר טָמֵא הוּא לָכֶם
Vayikra 11:4-7

This passage focuses specifically on the non-kosher animals that are forbidden to it. Yet in describing each of these animals, they all are first described according to the characteristic that would make them kosher, then explained further about the missing component that ultimately makes them not kosher. Says the Kli Yakar, in listing non-kosher animals, shouldn't their non-kosher characteristics take precedent over their kosher aspects? Why does the Torah repeatedly emphasize the kosher side to all of these animals, then seemingly add on the non-kosher side?

Explains the Kli Yakar, that ultimately because the kosher aspect receives priority that this actually emphasizes the non-kosher aspect even more! How can this be? From a midrash explaining the behavior of Esau, it compares him to the state of a pig. The pig would come forward and hold out its feet showing off is cloven hooves as if to prove its kosher, while nevertheless the pig lacked the ability to regurgitate its cud, making it not kosher. So also is the traits of Esau, where he tried to pass himself off as appearing as a tzadik while all the time his heart was filled with bitterness and treachery. This is the nature of Esau, a deceiver, and man of deception. This is worse than the behavior of an evil man, for the evil man is both rotten from within and oppressive on the outside. While the deceiver strives to appear good, while secretly harboring ill will towards.

Quoting Yirmiyahu, the Kli Yakar explains where this deceptive approach will go in trying to bring down Israel, saying "all who eat him [Israel] shall be guilty, evil shall befall them" (Yirmiyahu 2:3). Also we see that one is really like what he eats, for in eating the non-kosher animals, one ingests these deceitful traits. 

The Oppressors of Israel
The Kli Yakar goes on to compare these four animals to oppressors that rose up to put Israel down.
  • Camel = Bavel
  • Hyrax = Persia (Medes)
  • Hare = Greece
  • Pig = Edom (Rome)
Bavel as the Camel
The camel is shown to represent the Babylonians, as brought out in the verse in Tehillim "O Daughter of Babylon, who is destined to be plundered, praiseworthy is he who repays you your recompense (גְּמוּלֵךְ שֶׁגָּמַלְתְּ) that you have done to us." (Tehillim 137:8) That the root to the word Gamal appears in this verse, and shows that ultimately our oppressor is punished.

Persia in the Hyrax
The Persians are mentioned in connection to Megillat Esther, saying that just as the Hyrax 'brings up its cud' so also are Tzadkim raised up. It stats that "Mordecai was sitting in the king's gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, of the guards of the threshold, became angry and sought to lay a hand on King Ahasuerus." This was the turning point in the Megillah that ultimately lead to the fateful night where the King couldn't sleep and read about this deed, which lead to seeking out and rewarding Mordechai.

Greece as the Hare 
The Greeks are mentioned, saying that just as the Hare 'brings up its cud' so also are Tzadkim raised up, as we see in the famous story with Alexander the Great.
The twenty-fifth of Tebeth is the day of Mount Gerizim, (On which the Samaritans (Cutheans) had their Temple.) where no mourning is permitted. It is the day on which the Cutheans demanded the House of our G-d from Alexander the Macedonian so as to destroy it, and he had given them the permission, whereupon some people came and informed Shimon the Tzadik. What did the latter do? He put on his priestly garments, robed himself in priestly garments, brought some of the noblemen of Israel to come with him carrying fiery torches in their hands. They walked all the night, some walking on one side and others on the other side, until dawn. When the dawn rose he [Alexander] said to them: Who are these people? They [the Samaritans] answered: The Jews who are rebelling against you. As he reached Antipatris, the sun having shone forth, their groups came together. When he [Alexander] saw Shimon the Tzadik, he descended from his carriage and bowed down before him. They [the Samaritans] said to him: A great king like yourself bows down before this Jew? He answered: His image is that which wins for me in all my battles. He said to them [the Jews]: What have you come for? They said: Is it possible that star-worshippers should mislead you to destroy the House wherein prayers are said for you and your kingdom that it be never destroyed! He said to them [the Jews]: Who are these? They [the Jews] said to him: These are Cutheans who stand before you. He said: They are delivered into your hand. At once they perforated their heels, tied them to the tails of their horses and dragged them over thorns and thistles, until they came to Mount Gerizim, which they ploughed and planted with vetch, even as they had planned to do with the House of G-d [Beit Hamikdash]. And that day they made a festive day.
Yoma 69A
Rome is the Pig
As we saw early, the period of the Roman Empire is compared to the deceptive behavior of the pig, which dares to proudly present itself as kosher by showing its feet, when it lacks the other kosher sign.

Meaning in Metaphor
What is the meaning of comparing these animals to these different iconic oppressors of the Jewish people? Explains the Kli Yakar:
By the camel we tell of the ultimate punishment to come back on the Babylonians
With the hyrax and hare, representing Persian and Greece, we see how our Tzadikim are elevated by praise, prestige and honor from the other nations - as we saw with Mordechai and Shimon HaTzadik. However this praise ultimately covers up a baser and fundamental drive to still oppress the Jews.
With the pig compared to Rome, we learn about that a truly deceptive nature and trait worse than evil, trying to present oneself as acceptable while covering up a bitter nature within. 

We should also strive to internalize the same holiness that we project on the outside, and likewise in show the same holiness that we nurture within.