Friday, April 26, 2013

How To Be Holy

The narrative of the children of Israel in the wilderness, portrayed in the books of Exodus and Numbers, are interrupted by the book of Leviticus, which gives us the details of the rituals of the Tabernacle – the types of sacrifices and how they are to be offered, the garb of the priests, and, as we saw last week, how the people were to purify themselves after childbirth or illness.  This week’s Torah portion is another double one, Acharei Mot (Lev. 16:1-18:30) and Kedoshim, (Lev. 19:1 – 20:27).  Kedoshim lies in the exact middle of the book of Leviticus.  It also lies in the exact center of a Torah scroll – when Kedoshim is read in synagogue, it is easy to see that.  I do not think this is coincidence.  The wisdom contained in parashah Kedoshim is, I believe, the central precepts of the Torah.

“You shall be holy,” God says to the Israelites, “for I, the Lord your God am holy.”  Then follows a list of ways in which we can be holy and emulate God: Honor your parents.  Keep the Sabbath.  Do not worship idols. Don’t pick your fields bare; leave some for the poor and hungry.  Judge fairly.  Pay your workers on time. Don’t take vengeance or bear a grudge.  Don’t be a gossipmonger.  And every few verses, the admonition is repeated, “I am the Lord your God”.

In short, the way that we may find holiness in our human lives, the way that we are best able to be God-like, is in very ordinary ways.  Our holiness is measured by the fairness, honesty and kindness with which we treat one another.

No comments: