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Achrei Mot/Kedoshim (After the Death/Holy) – Leviticus 16:1 – 20:27

Achrei Mot/Kedoshim (After the Death/Holy)

Leviticus 16:1 – 20:27

“You shall be holy for I the Lord your G-d am holy.” Leviticus 19:2. Throughout Leviticus, G-d commands Moses to teach the children of Israel, or to instruct them in various commandments and rules of behavior. With this scripture, G-d introduces a few laws pertaining to our relationship with G-d, such as the Shabbat and the prohibition against idol worship. However, most of the commandments in this section relate to relationships within society, the treatment of the poor, honest employment practices and the very basic commandment, to love our neighbor as oneself.

But the first commandment, which serves to introduce the entire chapter, G-d commands us to be holy and to be holy because He is holy. In this brief instruction, we come to understand the very essence of man’s relationship to G-d. G-d is perfection. G-d is holiness. And it is G-d that we must emulate. We must be holy because He is holy!

And how is that holiness expressed? Not like in so many other religions, exclusively through rituals and ceremonies. Yes, we do need to keep the Shabbat and bring the ritual sacrifices to G-d and not to pagan idols. But that is dealt with so briefly. The thrust of the chapter is the expectation of holiness in our dealings with our fellow man. G-d is compassionate, and we must emulate this characteristic of G-d as well. For it is through our relationships with our fellow human beings, through acts of compassion and charity, that we can indeed become holy and, as a people, become worthy of the description that G-d himself assigns to the people of Israel “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6)

Shabbat Shalom From Samaria,

Sondra Baras
Director, Israel Office

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