Thursday, May 05, 2005

III-7 Kedoshim Be Ye Holy

5 May III-7 Kedoshim Be Ye Holy

Torah: Lv 19-20:27

Haftorah: Is 66:1-24, 23


1. Lv 19:1-14
2. Lv 19:15-22
3. Lv 19:23-32
4. Lv 19:33-37
5. Lv 20:1-7
6. Lv 20:8-22
7. Lv 20:23-27


Kedoshim calls us to holiness. Holiness is not an other-world concept of fasting aescetics meditating in a desert, but that of applicable relationships and deeds between man and man, and man and God. Be ye holy. How? Love your neighbor as yourself. Don't steal or cheat you fellow man; pay wages on time, assist those in need and provide for those without—dedicate the corners of your field so gleaners can provide for themselves. Your relationships with your fellow man can either honor of defame God through your example.


"You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God, am holy." Lv 19:2

"When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of the harvest. You shall not pick your vineyards bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard, you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger." Lv 19: 9-10

"Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord." Lv 19:19


In religious art, holiness is often depicted by the glowing halo circling a head or the martyrdom of some saint. Walk into a Catholic church to find a saint, looking more prickly like a pin-cushion with arrows or a marble statute enduring the last agonies. This is not what Kedoshim relates regarding holiness. Holiness and martyrdom can be very disparate things. We all die, so we choose carefully. Dying on behalf of self-indulgence, obesity or drunken behavior is ignominous. We are commanded to live in the image of God. Rav Frand explains that there are only three exceptional situations for martyrdom: idol worship (avoda zarah); murder (shfichas damim); and illicit sexual relationships (giluy arayus).

It is better to sin or neglect a mitzvot than be killed. Talmud teaches us that we are witnesses of God through performing mitzvot. Sins can be forgiven through repentance, but a dead man can't make teshuvah or do mitzvot. As King David writes:

"What is to be gained from my death,
from my descent into the Pit?
Can dust praise You?
Can it declare your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me."
Ps 30: 10 JPS

Mitzvot are a lamp for others struggling in darkness. How we live witnesses to the Divine Presence among us. How we relate action with word establishes the model for others. Rabbi Simcha Meir of Dvinsk explains that the relationship between man and man is a hechser mitzvah, reflecting our relationship with our Creator. A mitzvah used in preparing for another mitzvot is a "hechser mitzvah," acting as a conduit for another purpose: building a synagogue or donating money to charity. Not an end in themselves, they further a higher cause. How we interact with each other should not be an end in itself, but a hechser mitzvot, establishing the model of a loving relationship between God and his people.

Just as God sent angels to Abraham to warn of impending danger, we should warn others. Just as Abraham interceded in the War of Kings and on the behalf of his wayward nephew; so we too, should intercede. We must stand as Moses stood on the mountain, arguing on behalf of the errant assembly below.

Too frequently charity involves social condescension. We clean the closets of the things we desire no longer, those that no longer fit, those that have tears in the pockets, stains in the collar and minus a few buttons, to dump on some faceless recipient on the the other side of the impersonal wall of charity. Sensitivity to the poor is imperative to avoid debasing them. Through offering the corners of the field, they were not only given a chance to provide for themselves, but also a chance to retain their dignity through self-support. We imagine ourselves as benefactors. In reality, we do little to assauge the despair and anguish of their lives. We do not sit in the dirt of the street to hear about the trials of the week, the ordeal of surviving a night in subzero temperatures.

We do not stop to hear the anxiety lurking in our co-worker's heart: the unpaid mortgage or his children's dental bills. We do not hear the waitress, bustling about with an armful of dirty trays and smudges on her sweaty face. She should wait on us; not the reverse.

We turn aside whenever an altercation arises. Someone screams beneath our window. We close the blinds to shut out the attacker. Calling the police complicates our life—we might be called to be a witness. After all, isn't a man's destiny decreed? Aren't the very hairs on a man's head numbered by God?

Our actions consecrate or defame the image of God implanted within us. It's not dependent on being Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, or Conservative. It's downright personal.


"When you encounter your enemy's ox or ass wandering, you must take it back to him. When you see the ass of your enemy lying under its burden and would refrain from raising it, you must nevertheless raise it with him." II-6 Mishpatim Ex 23:4-5

Yanki Tauber, Mishpatim: The Criminal, the Litigant, and the Partner

Rav Kook, Vayishlach: The Clash Between Jacob and Esau
a study of conflicting temperaments and disparate views on legacy

Rav Kook, Kedoshim: "Peah" and Lessons in Tzedakah
a concise explanation of Peah and its significance as a model of charitable acts

Rav Kook, Kedoshim: Love your Neighbor


Rav Frand, AchareiMos / Kedoshim 5757
succinct explanation of Lv 18:5

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, Olas Shabbos- AchareiMos / Kedoshim: "For I am Holy"

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Parsha Insight-AchareiMos / Kekdoshim 5761

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Parsha Insight-AchareiMos / Kekdoshim 5762

Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger, Kolel: Kedoshim: A New Look at Philanthropy

Rabbi David Ehrenkranz, Kedoshim: Nobility on Endless Trial

Stuart Binder, Kedoshim: The Nature of Holiness

Rabbi Pinchas Avruch, Kol Hakollel- AchareiMos / Kedoshim: Giving for a Good Cause

Rabbi Pinchas Avruch, Kol Hakollel-Kedoshim: More Power to You

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Lifeline – AchareiMos / Kedoshim 5759

Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, JTSA Kedoshim 5755
biting criticism regarding political neighbors...

Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, JTSA Kedoshim 5760
regarding the corners of the field and Ruth
please note that Ruth was a Moabite--

Related Suite Parasha:

II-6 Mishpatim Laws 3 February 2005
Torah: Ex 21-24:18

II-6 Mishpatim Laws 3 February 2005

III-6 Acharei Mot

III-6 Acharei Mot


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