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Parashat Kedoshim - 5774

My friends,

In several places in the Talmud, it is mentioned that this portion of Kedoshim is most important because it contains the most important laws and even a review of the Ten Commandments. Moses is commanded to instruct the entire community:

"You shall be holy, for I the L-rd, your G-d am holy." (Leviticus, 19:2)

It goes on to list all kinds of Mitzvot which would make you holy, such as respecting parents, leaving some of the harvest to the poor, not to steal, not to lie, not to swear falsely, not to mislead others, respecting elders, fairness in justice, not to take a revenge or keep a grudge, and the most famous phrase, "Veahavta Lerea-cha Kamocha" - "Love your fellow as yourself - I am the L-rd."

Many commentaries discuss this Mitzvah. How can one love someone else - and we are not talking about a spouse or family member - but a fellow being, another human being as oneself? Rabbi Akiva considers this Mitzvah as the most important. One reaches Kedushah (holiness) when one can show love to all other human beings. For Rabbi Akiva, the fact that this commandment ends with the words "I am G-d" emphasizes that G-d created us all. To Rabbi Akiva, the positive aspect of this Mitzvah is by looking at all actions that one takes towards another person as if he/she are doing them to oneself. The great sage Hillel made it simple by saying, "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you."

Being holy is not something that comes to us because we are part of a certain people. We become holy because of the actions we take.


Shabbat Shalom,