Torah Weekly - Parshat Kedoshim

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Parshat Kedoshim

For the week ending 1 Iyar 5760 / 5 & 6 May 2000

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  • You and Me
  • Faces of Holiness
  • Haftara Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (New Month)
  • River of Peace
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    The nation is enjoined to be holy. Many prohibitions and positive commandments are taught:

    Prohibitions: Idolatry; eating offerings after their time-limit; theft and robbery; denial of theft; false oaths; retention of someone's property; delaying payment to an employee; hating or cursing a fellow Jew (especially one's parents); gossip; placing physical and spiritual stumbling blocks; perversion of justice; inaction when others are in danger; embarrassing; revenge; bearing a grudge; cross-breeding; wearing a garment of wool and linen; harvesting a tree during its first three years; gluttony and intoxication; witchcraft; shaving the beard and sideburns; and tattooing.

    Positive: Awe for parents and respect for the elderly; leaving part of the harvest for the poor; loving others (especially a convert); eating in Jerusalem the fruits from a tree's 4th year; awe for the Temple; respect for Torah scholars, the blind and the deaf.

    Family life must be holy. We are warned again not to imitate gentile behavior, lest we lose the Land of Israel. We must observe kashrut, thus maintaining our unique and separate status.




    "Love your neighbor as yourself -- I am Hashem." (19:18)

    Rabbi Akiva states that this is the fundamental principal of all the Torah. But, in truth, how is it possible to love another person as one loves oneself? A person's whole view of the world tends to be ego-centric, and even when he behaves altruistically it is usually based on the desire to feel good about himself -- that's not loving as yourself, that's called loving yourself! The answer is at the end of the verse "I am Hashem." When a person puts himself at the center of the universe instead of Hashem, then necessarily every other creation is light-years away from him. But when he acknowledges that Hashem is G-d, then as a creation of Hashem he sees himself as linked to his fellow man. In essence there becomes no difference between "me" and "you". As we are all expressions of the will of the Creator, as much as I can love myself, I can love my neighbor.

    Heard from Rabbi Mordechai Perlman


    "Speak to all of the congregation of the Children of Israel and tell them: 'You must be Holy.' " (19:2)

    We often think of holiness as something that only a few exceptional individuals can aspire to. However, the fact that Hashem gave this mitzvah to Moshe in the form of "Speak to all the congregation" teaches us that not only the exceptional among us is capable of holiness, but every one of us is commanded to be Holy. When the Torah was given on Mount Sinai, the Midrash, commenting on the verse "And all the people saw the voices" tells us "The voice came out and was divided into many many different voices, and everyone heard according to his strength." In other words, when one person heard "You shall not murder," he understood it to mean "Don't pick up your ax and murder!" While another understood "You shall not murder" to mean that if a dead body is found close to the outskirts of your town, you will be held responsible for not giving him sufficient protection, food and escort, as though you'd killed him. To yet another it meant don't embarrass someone in public, because when the blood drains from his face and he turns white, it is as though you had killed him. Each person heard the voice according to his own strength and unique talents, and similarly every Jew is expected to be holy on his level because he is an individual spark of the holiness of G-d.

    Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin

    Haftara Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (New Month)

    Yeshaya 66:1-66:24


    The Haftara for Parshat Kedoshim is the special one we read when Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat. The last verses relate to both Rosh Chodesh and Shabbat as times when in the future, the people will visit the Sanctuary to worship G-d.

    Yeshaya proclaims that G-d, who created the whole universe, does not need the Sanctuary nor our worship. He commanded the Sanctuary worship for our benefit, as a way for us to express our gratitude and respect; but internal virtue is the main idea. When that is lacking, all the rest is meaningless.

    Yeshaya narrates the future redemption which will be miraculously fast and unprecedented, after which all the nations will come to Jerusalem to the Beit Hamikdash to worship the one true G-d.


    "Like a river do I lead peace unto her..." (66:12)

    G-d declares that in the future, He will bring peace to the Jewish nation like a river. The Talmud (Berachot 56b) derives from the above verse that one who dreams of a river will enjoy peace. The Talmud cites two other verses by which it derives that dreaming of a bird or a pot also indicates peace. How is this to be understood?

    Peace ensues when opposites live in harmony. A pot symbolizes peace, as a pot enables fire and water to coexist. A bird symbolizes the peaceful coexistence of the physical and ethereal, as a bird flies in the sky and also walks on the ground. And a river is a place where both rain from heaven and water from underground collect, and conducts the water to inhabited areas for the use of mankind.

    Thus in the future redemption, both physical wealth and spiritual abundance will be present in one location, and the righteous will be also the prosperous.

    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Michael Treblow

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