In many ways, Parashat Kedoshim is a more detailed account of those laws first set out in the Ten Commandments presented to Moses at Mount Sinai. Kedoshim means ‘holiness’ and that is exactly what we are taught to strive for as Jews. As our portion teaches: “God said to Moses: Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord Your God, am holy.”
Throughout the portion (and really the entire Torah for that matter) we learn that God is holy and we as God’s children, formed in God’s image, must spend our lives striving to attain a high degree of this very same holiness.
What does it mean then to be holy? It means that we must endeavor to be unique and different, sanctified and purified-and through our actions we must set ourselves apart in choosing to make the highest moral and ethical decisions at every turn. Holiness should be at the heart of everything we are and everything we do. Furthermore, we should measure each of our deeds to make sure that they contribute to elevating our lives and our relationships. It is when we are successful in this realm that we truly begin to understand the meaning of holiness.
Among other things, the Torah teaches us that holiness is about revering our parents and giving tzedakah. Holiness is about behaving honestly, giving proper wages to our day laborers and treating those who are less fortunate than us with the same amount of respect and honor. Holiness also means that we do not take vengeance or hold a grudge. All in all, we are taught this week to “love our fellow human beings” in the same way we love ourselves. In achieving a total sense of holiness, what could be a more important lesson than this?
Susan, Atara, Micah and Elan join me in wishing you a Shabbat Shalom filled with increased holiness from our home to yours!
-Rabbi Joseph Krakoff