parasha Kedoshim (Leviticus 19:1 – 20:27) 5782
“Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; for I am the L-RD your G-d.”
– Leviticus 20:7, JPS 1917 Tanach
The parashas begins with a reckoning of terms, in regard to “holiness.” The word, kadosh, translated as holy, is from the shoresh (root word), KDSh, meaning “to be separate.” Therefore, to be holy is to be separated from all that is unholy. The parashas delineates how our kedushah (holiness) is dependent upon separating ourselves from the practices of the nations that are steeped in immorality. Rashi associates the commandment to be holy as to refrain from idolatry.
“I the L-RD am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, that ye should be Mine” (Leviticus 20:26, JPS). In like manner as the Children of Israel were betrothed to H’Shem at Sinai, we are to remove our worn-out garments of slavery, and put on clothes of righteousness. No longer living in bondage to aveiros (sin); rather, aspiring to righteousness through the commandments. This includes separating ourselves from what ever may be conveyed by the zeitgeist (literally, spirit of the time) as the new normal. Although the norms of society shift over the decades, the commandments of G-d are unchanging across the generations.
In abstaining from sin (sur meira), separating ourselves from unholiness, we prepare ourselves to be renewed through doing good (asei tov). First, to leave our own personal Mitzraim (Egypt) behind us; then, to accept the covenant anew as our heritage to guide us to the Promised Land, encapsulated by all of the blessings that we will receive for following the ways of H’Shem.