This week’s double-portion seems to be a long list of do’s and don’ts. If so, why is their so much talk about holiness and being holy? What is the connection?
Parashat Kedoshim is one of my favorite parashiot in the Torah. For it clearly illustrates the stark distinction between the concept of holiness as understood within the Jewish community and much of the western world. Holiness in the Torah is not some mystical, esoteric state we are all somehow striving to attain; but is rather a state of being, and a way of living our lives. In the Torah, holiness is establishing G-d’s Kingdom and Presence here on this earth. It is partnering with G-d in bringing redemption into the world.
The Torah portion is called Kedoshim because it is all about holiness. It is the instructions of how to live a life that is holy and pleasing unto G-d. We are instructed to weigh fairly, pursue justice, observe Shabbat and the mitzvot, and protect those who are down trodden. Why? Because the Torah states “Anochi HaShem … Because I am HaShem … and you are to be holy as I am holy (Leviticus 19:2)”.
It is a concept radically different from many of our own understandings of what we perceive as holy. For holiness is establishing G-d’s Presence among us and through us. Yeshua intrinsically understood this. Yeshua came to serve, and to ransom his life for ours (Mark 10:45). After all, it is in this week’s Torah portion we find the commandment echoed by Yeshua, “V’ahavta l’Raeicha Kamocha – To love your neighbor as you love yourself (Lev. 19:18).” For Judaism clearly teaches that how we treat one another is a direct reflection upon our relationship to G-d.
This is what Yeshua even taught us to pray for, “May Your Kingdom come. May Your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:9).” Let us pray for the inspiration and strength to lead lives that are holy and pleasing to G-d. May each of us pursue justice, follow Torah, and protect those downtrodden.
HaShem our G-d, open our eyes for opportunities to serve you, and help us see the world and our neighbors the way you see them. And may we merit your soon coming and the ultimate redemption in the messianic age!