Parashat Kedoshim – Erev Shabbat 29 April, 2022 (5782)
Week of 24 – 30 April, 2022
Torah portion: Lev.19 :1- 20 :27 Haftarah: 1 Sam. 20 :18Theme: God is holy and my call to Holiness
Kedoshim, Hebrew for “holy one”, is the 30th weekly Torah portion in the Jewish cycle of theTorah reading. Parashat Kedoshim begins with the demand for the Israelites to be holy (kadosh) on account of their relationship with kedosh Yisrael – “The Holy One of Israel”. The LORD spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the entire assembly of the people of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy’” (Lev. 19:1-2). With these two verses, I am moved to explore: 1) the notion of the holiness of the LORD God; 2) the call to Holiness of the people of Israel and the call of humanity to holiness; and, 3) account for my relationship with the LORD my God.
In my first visit to Bat Kol in 2005, the late Jack O’Driscoll said, “in your time in Bat Kol, in Jerusalem, expect a blessing”. There were so many glimmers of blessings: especially the blessings of singing and meditating on those Hebrew songs. The song about the Holiness of God, Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh Adonai Elohim tz’va’ot, (Holy, holy, holy,O LORD our God, LORD of hosts). In the Weekly Torah Reading it stated, “Kadosh connotes the sphere of the sacred that is radically separate from all that is sinful and profane”. The word kedushah (from the root k-d-sh) means sanctify or “set-apart”). The other song that was inspiring was the “Shalom Aleichem” (Peace Be Unto You). There are four verses in this song and the last line of every verse is the same, Hakadosh Baruch Hu (The Holy One, blessed be He). Holy describes what is divine and what pertains to it: “I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you” (Hos. 11:9). We hear in Islam, Judaism and in Christianity the attributes of the notion of the Holiness of the LORD God.
One of my ministries is teaching Scripture in our Local State High School. I often speak of Hafiz (ca. 1320-1389), the great Muslim Mystic and Poet, who said, “I am in love with every church and mosque, temple and any kind of shrine. I know it is there that people say the different names of the One God.” The Holy One, blessed is he, who loves everyone; the Holiness of God, who embraces everyone.
The call to Holiness of the people of Israel, is a call to holiness to the Gentiles and to the rest of Humanity. The call to holiness is mentioned three times in our Parashah: “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). “Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 20:7). “You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine” (Lev. 20:26).
In the language of the Second Testament, 1 Peter 1:13-25 calls all people to live a life of holiness. Literally, holy living means that the Christians live a life that is set apart, reserved to give glory to God. It is a life of discipline, focus, and attention to matters of righteous living.
The Universal call to holiness is a teaching in Christianity that all people are called to be holy, and is based on Matt. 5:48 “For your part you shall be righteous and perfect in the way your heavenly Father is perfect”.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. “I the LORD your God am Holy.” How do I comprehend this notion? 2. What is the call to holiness in the First Testament, and in the Second Testament? 3. How is my journey in my personal call to holiness?
Bibliography: Chabad.org: The Jerusalem Bible, Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd 1974.
This week’s Parasha Commentary was prepared by
Aliki A Langi, Tonga, Bat Kol Alumnus: 2005, 2018