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Parashat Kedoshim - 5776

Dear friends,

Most chapters in the Torah begin with, "God spoke to Moses saying: Speak to the Children of Israel." The Parasha of Kedoshim, however, begins with these words:

"God spoke to Moses saying: Speak to the entire congregation of the Children of Israel and say to them - You should be holy, because I, God your God, am holy." (Leviticus 19:1-2)

Why is it necessary to emphasize 'to the entire congregation'?

Rashi comments that this Parasha, unlike all the others, was taught directly by Moses to the entire congregation that he had assembled. Ordinarily, Moses would teach Aaron and the elders who would in turn, teach the laws to their respective communities.

Why? Rashi answers: "because most of the basic teachings of the Torah depend on it."

The fifty-one different laws that are contained in this Parasha include universal laws which are necessary in creating and maintaining a caring and just society. They include: respecting one's parents, greeting people warmly and sharing our blessings with the poor and the stranger, being honest and respectful of people's property, refraining from gossip, and the most important commandment, "Love your fellow like yourself." In this Parasha they are introduced by the commandment of 'be holy, because I, God your God, am holy." When humans keep these laws, even when no one is watching, they are behaving in a holy way. That holiness emanates from God and shows that person's fear or reverence of God.

For all the good that we find in our society, as evidenced by the many nonprofit organizations and the many volunteers, there is an entire segment in our society which has much to learn from these commandments. It would seem that when there is no 'fear of God', there will be those who would mislead and steal from you. It has become necessary for us to seek all kinds of protection - not only to keep us and our homes safe, but also to protect us from cyber attacks, credit card and identity thieves, etc., etc.

This Parasha reminds us to seek holiness, and that our actions will lead to that holiness.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram