Torah Portion: Kedoshim Leviticus 19-20:27

HafTorah: Amos 9:7-15; Ezekiel 20:2-20

This week we read the Torah portion Kedoshim or Holy. In Lev. 19:2 we read where G-d is speaking to Moses telling him to relate to the people of Israel these words, “you shall be holy for I the L-rd your G-d am holy.” In I Peter 1:15-16 we read almost the exact same words written to the First Century believers. No doubt the author of I Peter had in mind these words from Leviticus that we are reading tonight. So then how would the people of Peter’s day put these words into action? I would think they would again look to Leviticus, in this Torah section, as a guide. When we read these verses a common thread holds them together. That thread for the most part has to do with how we relate to other people as we navigate the days of our lives. These verses speak to us about how to live each day as a holy person, a person who does not withdraw from the world but one who infuses each day with the holiness of G-d. They show us how to be set apart but not withdrawn from the world. When we deal with people we are to be honest, compassionate and loving, not react as others might but bring holiness into every part of our lives.

When we have a problem with a brother, maybe a serious problem verse 19:17 is our guideline on how to deal with it. When we read, “you shall not hate your brother in your heart,” how do we live this out? Who is damaged by hating someone in our heart? Left unresolved hate can transform itself into a poison that affects our entire being. If we have been wronged by someone it needs to be talked about if possible. It may not be resolved but it is not hidden away in our heart to fester and damage us spiritually in the long run. Scripture, in many places, reflects on this verse. Such verses are: Romans 12:18, Hebrews 12:14; I Thess. 5:13. Romans admonishes us to live at peace with all men as much as we are able, meaning we must not let hate lie and take root in our heart. If we do it will rise up in our life at sometime and seek to destroy us. The story of Absalom and Amnon in II Samuel chapter 13 is a good example. Torah is calling us to be holy in how we live our life.

A problem we often face is that we fear man more than G-d. Sometimes when a person knowingly sins they fear being seen by man more than being seen by G-d. If only we lived our lives where we are completely aware of G-d’s continuing presence with us every day every hour, every minute, seeing every action, knowing every thought we think. Often when we are involved in something unholy our biggest fear is that we are going to be seen by someone we know, with little thought on the actual spiritual truth that G-d is not fooled. When we fear man more than G-d to what does it equate? We have put something above G-d.

So as we read these verses about how to interact with our fellowman, it is eternally important that we live, as much as it depends on us, an honest compassionate life. We cheat no one, we treat all people with respect, love and mercy. Even in those cases where no one will see and we could get by with less holy actions, we can not, for we are called to be holy for we are the children of a holy G-d.