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This past Shabbat (Acharei Mot) I heard part of an interesting drash, and I want to bring what I understood from it into a Torah study that I am teaching after Shacharit this coming Shabbat (Kedoshim).

However, I was just in town for a few days and I don't actually know anyone there (though everyone was lovely!), and the darshan was also a visitor. Also, up in the women's balcony we were occupied with some children during part of the drash, so I didn't catch everything so clearly. (If this question doesn't bear fruit, I will just reach out to the synagogue, make a donation, and ask if someone remembers the drash more clearly or can ask the darshan for his notes.)

The darshan discussed לא תלכו in Vayikra 18:3 and followed many commentators (and roughly half of modern translations) in interpreting it as "do not follow them", i.e the חקת of Egypt and Canaan. He stressed that this is specifically about not following blindly -- that if you are going to do something like the nations around you, you should not do so simply because that is how they do it. You need a Jewish reason for doing it, and you need to do it in a distinctively Jewish way.

He seemed to be saying that he was following the Ben Ish Chai in this distinction. Did the Ben Ish Chai in fact write about this?

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    I can't tell you about the Ben Ish Chai, but usually the sources on this start with the Maharik a few centuries earlier. His point, essentially, isn't quite that. It's don't do it purely to imitate them. If there's a functional reason, that's okay. (If there's no reason at all, that implies you're trying to imitate them.) Specifically, he allowed a doctor to wear a cape that showed membership in a healers' guild; even though until now, only the non-Jews were wearing them, the Jew is doing it to show he's a doctor (for professional advantage), not to look non-Jewish per se.
    – Shalom
    Commented May 7 at 23:34

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