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The Elements of Jewish Living

Be Holy!  Kedoshim Tihiyu

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

The title of the Parsha is Kedoshim. This is a section about holiness. Moshe commanded the Jewish people to be holy, what are the parameters of holiness and explained that holiness is perhaps the underlying theme of being a Jew. “You should be holy; because I am holy!” Truly an amazing concept - being holy like G-d is holy.

Who is holy?  We tend to think of a person who is constantly involved with G-d and matters spiritual. We expect a holy person to practice asceticism, someone who eats minimally and whose every word and movement is careful and sparing.

Consider the following:  Of the total of 613 mitzvos, only about 200 are operative today. Parshas Kedoshim contains about 48 mitzvos of which almost all are active even in post Temple times. About a quarter of the mitzvos which we are able to keep today are in Parshas Kedoshim; or at least quarter of our practices as Jews are about becoming holy.

Interesting, however is the nature of the mitzvos found in Kedoshim – they are almost all Mitzvos which instruct how to act socially, with our parents; with poor people; in business; the prohibitions against revenge and lashon hara, and of course the great principle of “v’ahavta l’reyecha kamocha - Love your neighbor like yourself” etc. They are mostly Mitzvos Bein Adam l’Chavero, or instructions on how to be a mentsch.

Amazingly the Mitzvah of holiness will manifest more in your home, business and honesty than in ascetic and what would usually be considered holy behavior!

There is a reason for this. We humans were created in the Image of G-d. Why? Because when G-d created the world, a world of loving kindness, he created us in His image to finish the job. Angles were created with their tasks, we are created with ours. It is our mandate to polish the Creation with love and kindness - we are even dressed in His image to do so. When we fulfill our mandate we are holy. If we study, pray, fast and immerse - yet somehow, we do not behave correctly, we are not fulfilling our mandate and, therefore, we are not holy.

Being a holy person means, first and foremost, being kind, considerate, grateful.

Kedoshim Tihiyu - Be Holy!

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