Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Parashat Kedoshim ("holy ones") Leviticus 19:1-20:27 by Jon Eaton

Parashat Kedoshim ("holy ones")   Leviticus 19:1-20:27
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”  Leviticus 19:1-2.         
This parashat begins with a call for holiness and then continues a more detailed aspect of the ethical commandments.  Remember the Passover blessing that states clearly that we are sanctified with his commandments.   "Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who chose us from all peoples and exalted us from all tongues, and sanctified us with His commandments” 

 Some would say that the commandments are part of the Old Testament and therefore are “done away with” but Shaul stated in Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” and then continues his endorsement of the Torah in 2 Timothy 3:16, “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 
 Peter, Yeshua’s disciple, resonated this exact call for holiness when he stated, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16.

Which I guess begs the question; what is holiness?  

In Hebrew, Holiness is read as “Kadosh” but there are related words such as Kedushah (sanctify / set apart), Kiddush (sanctifying the wine), Kaddish (sanctifying the Name), kiddushin (the ring ceremony at a marriage).  It is separation from the profane.  

Holiness is elevated and lifted high as per Isaiah 57:15, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place.””
Holiness is righteous, “And God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness” Isaiah 5:16.
Holiness cannot be equalled “To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One.”   Isaiah 40:25

Holiness is great and awesome, “Let them praise Your great and awesome name—He is holy.” Psalms 99:3

And how are we meant to be all of these things?  By understanding and obeying the commandments of HaShem and separating ourselves from the profane; “Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.”  Ezekiel 22:26.

The great Creator began creation in the very same way by separating the Light from the Dark.  

“And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” Genesis 1:4.

In-fact, the call for holiness is made no less than three times in this parashah.   The number 3 has heavy Biblical significance. 

“You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” Leviticus 19:2

“Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 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.” Leviticus 20:26

Our battle is continue the pursuit of holiness, not happiness.  But even in our failings we read in Leviticus 16:16 that the LORD "dwells with them in the midst of their contamination."     

As we read on, we read how HaShen reinforced many ethical and sabbatical commands, but the ones that I think need more attention are found in Leviticus 19:14 which reads literally, "You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind."  How would the deaf know if we were cursing them if they cannot hear?  This is a picture of the heart attitude or as Yeshua says, “And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”  Matthew 5:22. But it’s not that these are some magical evil words – it’s the heart.  

So if cursing someone who cannot hear you is evil, how much more should we refrain from cursing those who can?  We should refrain from all types of cruel or hateful speech or behaviour in general (Lashon Hara).   

Putting a stumbling block before the blind is another heart attitude issue.  What kind of a sick puppy would enjoy tripping the blind?  But this goes further than some sick joke.  This goes to the heart of giving misleading information, bad advice, selfish manipulation and deception.

All of these can be summed up in Leviticus 19:17, “You must not hate your brother in your heart."  Or as we read in 1 John 4:20, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar”.

Actually, this whole ethical parashah can be summed up in the Ten Commandments.  If you were to take the first two and the last two words of the Ten Commandments it reads, “I AM…Your Neighbour”.   And then Yeshua stated clearly, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets

Jon Eaton

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