Blog Acharei Mot- Kedoshim 13 Iyar 5778 בלוג אַחֲרֵי מוֹת – קְדֹשִׁים, י”ג אייר תשע”ח

A very important element in this double portion that will be developed later is Yom Hakippurim, the day of Atonement when we will go before the Creator to make things right with Him. We will see this in Lev. 23:27 and Matthew 5: 3 where we find the word “ani – עני – poor” in spirit. This means to afflict our souls, to be humble as we approach the Creator. The second part is Kedoshim which refers to sanctification or being set apart. Lev. 18 begins with 1 “The LORD spoke to Moses and said: ‘Speak to the Israelites and say: “I am the LORD your God: You must not behave as they do in Egypt where you used to live; you must not behave as they do in Canaan where I am taking you, nor must you follow their statutes. 4 You must observe my customs and keep my statutes, following them. “I, the LORD, am your God: hence you will keep my statutes and my customs. Whoever complies with them will find life in them. “I am the LORD.” 

Most of us have lost our own identity and prefer to imitate others. We have been placed here to follow the Creator not man. At the end of this chapter He says: 26 “You, however, must keep my statutes and customs and not do any of these hateful things: none of your citizens, none of your resident aliens.” See how inclusive the Creator is. Many of you were not born into a Jewish family and are not circumcised but that doesn’t mean that you cannot follow His commandments and ordinances.

27.“For all these hateful things were done by the people who lived in the country before you, and the country became unclean.28 If you make it unclean, will it not vomit you out as it vomited out the nations there before you? 29 Yes, anyone who does any of these abhorrent things, whatever it may be, any person doing so, will be cut off from his people;30 so keep my rules and do not observe any of the abhorrent practices which were in force before you came; then you will not be made unclean by them. I am the LORD your God.”

It is sad to see what is happening in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Israel today. They are holding the people captive with their imposition of the multitude of rules and regulations that the Creator did not ask us to. Religious people look down upon everyone. This alienates the people who then run away from God and His Torah, throwing the baby out with the bath water. Israel has lost its identity and has returned to the days of the prophet Samuel when the people cried out, “Give us a king”. The Creator told Samuel that they were rejecting Him because they preferred to be like the other nations. Israel was created to be unique, not to be like the other nations but to be a light to them.

Next, we read in chapter 19… 1“The LORD spoke to Moses and said:2 ‘Speak to the whole community of Israelites and say: “You shall be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy.” The various translations emphasize the fact the Creator’s state of holiness depends on us being holy. Some use the word “perfect” (as in Matt. 5:48) instead of holy but it has nothing to do with perfection. The emphasis has been placed on the word kadosh – קָדוֹשׁ – holy by the theologians BUT it is only an adjective and is completely dependent upon the noun to which it is attached, and which gives it meaning. For example, in Deut. 23: 18 “There must be no sacred prostitute among the women of Israel, and no sacred prostitute among the men of Israel.” (See also in Gen. 38:21) The word prostitute (female) is kedasha – קְדֵשָׁה – and the male is kadesh – קָדֵשׁ -from the same root, kadosh. They are identified with the behavior of the noun to which they are attached. To whom or what are we holy (separated to, set apart for)? It can even be understood as “wholly” in English. When we belong to the God of Israel, our behaviour is attached to integrity and morality. We are called to do what is right in His sight! The closer we are to the Creator, the more our conduct reflects His characteristics. We have been set apart by Him and He shows us the areas that need to be changed within us.

Leviticus 19:3 continues with: “Each of you will respect father and mother. “And you will keep my Sabbaths; I am the LORD your God.” This refers to the Ten Commandments. The first three are about Who He is, and these are the next two – commandments 4 and 5, from our basic constitution. He begins by honoring father and mother and keeping the Shabbat. These are for our own well-being and that of our family. He continues with the things we are not to do which imitate the behavior of the nations around us. His message is clear and simple.

We are living in an amoral society today which is worse than being immoral. At least immorality knows what moral is while amoral is the complete lack of the knowledge of morality. We in Israel were called to be a nation set apart to reflect right behavior to the world. When we cease to do that, we lose our identity. Israel has the most moral army and they do the most good when there is a need, yet the state of Israel has accepted behavior within that is destructive to our society, calling it being open-minded. Being holy is the same as being chosen. We are not to be like the others. It is not about what we eat or how we dress. It is about our behavior. Rabbi Yeshua taught us not to worry about the uniform but about what comes out of our mouths. The Creator is teaching us that holiness has to do with ‘tzedek, tzedek tirdof” – צֶדֶק צֶדֶק, תִּרְדֹּף – Justice, Justice you shall pursue. That is what sets us apart; this is holiness.

Let us not play at religion or try to appear holier than thou. Our teshuva is to be genuine and we are to understand that the Creator is asking us to choose life and to imitate what is good. When we are truly walking with God, we will be humble as our teachers, Moshe and Yeshua were humble. We are all holding things from the past which we can leave behind with His help and those around us. His gift of “free will” allows us to be responsible for our choices. The Creator said: I am the God who set you “free”. The only way we can be responsible is when we are free. I am the LORD your God is repeated about 15 times in this portion. Remember, we will be judged by what we do and the intention of our hearts. It is a simple message! Do not imitate others who will lead us down the wrong path! We are fine when we follow His teachings. Let me ask you this: Whose values do you imitate, the Creator’s or the world’s?