Torah Word: Kedoshim


Torah Portion: Acharei Mot-Kedoshim Leviticus 16:1-20:27
Haftorah: Amos 9:7-15

“Kedoshim t’hyu, ki kadosh ani Adonai Eloheicha — Be holy, for I am holy, Adonai your God.” (Leviticus 19:2)

The second half of this week’s double portion takes a breather from Leviticus’ endless sacrificial and ritual minutiae and addresses the topic pondered by philosophers the world and centuries ’round: How shall we live?

Torah tells us to be “holy,” which in the original Hebrew carries the sense of set apart/dedicated/specified to a particular intention. That’s easy for God — after all, God’s uniqueness and absolute indefinability makes God’s holiness something of a byproduct. For us, it’s hard enough to concentrate on one thing for more than an hour let alone our entire lives.

But “Kedoshim t’hyu” doesn’t only translate as “be holy.” The prefix “t” connotes assurance: our holiness isn’t really God’s desire or insistence so much as God’s promise — “Do this, and that will follow.” By following Torah — which also means wrestling with Torah until you see where it’s taking you — we enter a way of life which ensures life’s own continuation: a way of honesty, compassion, intelligence and closeness to the One.

Have an amAzing Shabbat!

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