Parashat Kedoshim

Parashat Kedoshim is arguably the most morally compelling portion in the Torah. It begins: “You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2). What follows in chapter 19 of Leviticus is often called the “Holiness Code” and explains in detail what it means for us to “be like God” — beginning with observing Shabbat and eschewing idolatry while being scrupulous in our religious observances. But it is not just about religion and ritual, we must revere our parents and provide for the needy and be honest in our dealings with others. Our society must be just and the rights of all must be protected. In other words, how we conduct our private lives and how our society functions bear witness to God’s presence in the world. Kedoshim commands us not “to be God” but to be “like God,” to act in Godly ways to fulfill the promise of God’s creation.

How would our daily lives be different if we thought of our quotidian activities, those mundane routines, as sacred? How would that affect the way that we interact with our families (especially at those times when the kids really get on our nerves or our partner does something to set us off)? And, would it make a difference how you conducted your professional life if you saw your work — no matter what you do for a living — as holy work and your professional relationships as sacred?

“You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy” is not just about how often you pray though praying often can definitely attune you to the message of this week’s Torah portion (three times a day if you follow the traditional Jewish cycle).

“You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy” means that there is a reason why you were born and that your life has significance and purpose.

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