parasha Kedoshim 5782

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.

Imatatio Dei


7 Iyar 5780

1 May 2020

Shiur for parashas Acharei-Mos – Kedoshim 5780

“Ye shall be holy, for I the L-RD your G-d am holy.”

  • Leviticus 19:2, JPS 1917 Tanach

We are created b’tzelem Elokim – in the image of G-d – as is written, “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27, JPS). We are to imitate G-d, in a sincere effort to live up to that image. In specific, we should focus our efforts on an attempt to approach His level of holiness, even if this may not be within our own power to do so.

Consider, Nadav and Abihu, who raised themselves up above their status as kohanim, sons of Aaron (see Leviticus 10:1-2). They did not recognize the boundaries placed before themselves and H’Shem. Therefore, they served as a negative example to maintain a high level of respect, awe, and reverence towards H’Shem, regardless of our calling to be like unto Him.

In parashas Kedoshim, H’Shem tells Moshe, “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them: Ye shall be holy; for I the L-RD your G-d am holy” (Leviticus 19:2, JPS). A question may be asked, relevant to the theme of kedushah (holiness): how are we able to even approach the level of G-d’s holiness? Again, this is an ideal standard, that we are to simply set as our goal. Yet, it’s attainment is by no means simple, nor even possible without H’Shem at the helm of our ship, guiding our way upon the ocean of life.