Torah Portion Kedoshim (Holy People) Leviticus/Vayikra 19:1-20:27
Haftorah Reading Ezekiel 20:2-20
Tonight, we study, by most accounts, the most important Torah portion. The reason is very simple. Parashat Kedoshim actually tells us in practical terms what it means to be holy.
Up until now this book of Torah has been about sacrifices, purity, the Mishkan/Tabernacle and the priesthood. Here G-d tells Moshe to speak to the entire people of Israel. This is the same scene as at the mountain when G-d gave the ten commandments. However, here the people, and us, get an instruction manual on how to live a holy life. I asked you this week to ponder what your definition of holy would be and how holiness is worked out in your life?
To help us, let’s look at other places in scripture that we find the command to be holy as G-d is holy. Look in Leviticus/Vayikra 11:44-45; 20:7; 21:8; II Corinthians 7:1, I Peter 1:15-16, I Thessalonians 4:7 and Hebrews 12:10. These verses show us the importance of following this command.
Our problem is, most of us have a limited understanding of what it means to be holy. How do we practice holiness in our daily lives? At its foundation we are commanded to be like G-d. Here and in other scriptures we are given the nitty gritty of how G-d’s people are to be like Him. Leviticus/Vayikra 19:3 starts a long list of the distinctiveness of the life of G-d’s people. We are to revere our parents. I know that is sometimes difficult for some of us who might have had a difficult time with our parents. However, it does not release us of the responsibility to do all we can, with G-d’s help, to respect our parents. In fact, this applies to respecting older people in general (Lev. 19:32)
Leviticus/Vayikra 19:11-12 gives us points on how to live; don’t steal, don’t deal falsely, don’t lie, don’t swear by G-d’s name falsely. Leviticus/Vayikra 19:13-14 continues on with don’t oppress or rob your neighbor, don’t cheat laborers out of their wages, don’t curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but fear G-d, I am the L-rd. Leviticus/Vayikra 19:15-16 carries on with don’t do injustice in court, don’t be partial to the poor or defer to the great, judge your neighbor in righteousness, don’t go around as a slanderer, you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor, I am the L-d. Leviticus/Vayikra 19:17-18 says you shall not hate your brother in your heart, but reason frankly with your neighbor lest you sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your people, but shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the L-rd. Also let’s read Matthew 22:37-40, and Romans 13:9-10.
So, as we go through these chapters what do we see? If we are to be holy as G-d is holy this is how we must live. No doubt this will definitely set us apart. We are to be different from the world. Too often we see the lines blurred between G-d’s people and the world. The way we live our life is critically important. How we act daily will be our testimony, good or bad for unbelievers around us who are watching.
Our definition of holy is expanded by verses in Leviticus/Vayikra 19:19-37 with the major point being separation of different things. The 7thday is different than the other six days. Scripture says don’t sow your fields with different seeds, don’t wear clothing made of wool and linen, don’t cross breed animals. These things that are to be kept separate keeps before our eyes that we are separated out of the world as G-d’s people. Do these verses remind you of a commandment in the Messianic scriptures? Read II Corinthians 6:14-15. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
By being aware of these separations we can develop a stronger sense of who we are as G-d’s children.