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Kedoshim- Building a Holy Society

שיעור לפרשת קדושים תשפד

* Translated by Janine Muller Sherr

The Parasha we read this Shabbat between Yom Hashoah and Yom HaZikaron/ Yom Ha’atzmaut is called “Kedoshim,” and it falls precisely during the period in which we remember our “Kedoshim” (holy martyrs). But on closer examination, we find that this Parasha is not about people who gave up their lives in sanctification of God’s name. Rather, it teaches us how to lead a holy life.

The Parasha opens with the commandment of “You shall be holy,” and then goes on to detail 51 different mitzvot that enable us to build a just society in the land of Israel. This year we understand that we need to be worthy of living in this holy land, that we need to improve ourselves and lift ourselves up.

Here is a sampling of the various mitzvot that appear in our Parshah:

“In the presence of an old person shall you rise and you shall honor the presence of a sage.”
“You shall not steal, you shall not deny falsely, and you shall not lie to one another.”
“You shall not cheat your fellow and you shall not rob; you shall not withhold a worker’s wages with you until morning.”
“You shall not curse the deaf.”
“You shall not commit a perversion of justice…with righteousness shall you judge your fellow.”
“You shall not be a gossipmonger among your people.”
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart.”
“You shall each revere your mother and your father.”
“You shall love your fellow as yourself— I am Hashem.”
(Translation of these verses is taken from the ArtScroll Chumash, Stone Edition)

And then the list of mitzvot continues, encompassing a wide range of areas including agriculture, education, and commerce.

We often use the expression, “the fight of his or her life.” This year we have witnessed so many heroic battles and tremendous acts of bravery and sacrifice.

But this Parasha reminds us that life is made up of “little” things: those daily decisions, tiny victories, and good deeds that come together to create a holy society.

Shabbat Shalom!


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