Saturday 11th May 2019 6th Iyyr 5779
Parashat Kedoshim Herschel Raysman
Lev 19:1 – 20:27; Amos 9:7 – 15; Mark 12: 28 - 34
The Torah portion this Shabbat is called Kedoshim and it calls the Jewish people to be holy. It then proceeds with the instructions on how to achieve holiness, which is nearness to the Almighty. Within it lie the secrets and the prescription for Jewish continuity.
If any group of people is to survive as an entity, it must have common values and goals -- a direction and a meaning. By analyzing this portion we can learn much about our personal and national destiny.
Firstly, the parasha is directed to ‘Kol adat B’nei Yisrael’ – “the entire community of the Children of Israel”. From this opening verse, we immediately learn that:
1) holiness if for everyone, not just those who are priests or the pious ones
2) holiness requires a community effort. The call to be holy is addressed to the
community and not the individual
Some religious people from various faiths have elected to withdraw from society in order to pursue holiness. The Essenes of the 2nd Temple period is an example of this. Which reminds me of the story of a Buddhist who retreated to a cave in a mountain to meditate and fast until he attained nirvana, the void. There was a village at the foot of the mountain and the people