“You shall be holy, for I Adonai your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)
This is the central teaching of this week’s Torah Portion and according to the great biblical commentator Rashi, these words are the foundation of all the Torah. But, what does it mean to be holy?
From this sentence alone it would seem that being holy means we should strive to be like God, but not in some ethereal divine like way, at least that is not what the context of the verses that follow these words would teach us. “Honor your mother and father,” “Keep the Sabbath,” this is what it means to be holy. And if these words sound familiar, they are supposed to, because Leviticus 19 repeats and expands upon the entire list of the Ten Commandments.
The lesson is simple enough to learn, but it takes a lifetime to live out.
“Strive to be holy.” Be the kind of person God believes you can be.
Acharei Mot – Kedoshim Summary:
The duties that the head kohein must perform on Yom Kippur are delineated and the ceremony of the scapegoat is outlined. (16:1-28) Moses instructs Aaron about the Yom Kippur laws for fasting and atonement. (16:29-34) Warnings are issued against the offering of sacrifices outside the Sanctuary and the consumption of blood. (17:1-16) Moses condemns the sexual practices of some neighboring peoples. Certain forms of sexual relations are prohibited. (18:1-30) God issues a variety of commandments, instructing the Israelites on how to be a holy people. (19:1-37) Various sex offenses are discussed and punishments for them are presented. (20:1-27)