This week in Parashat Kedoshim, we face into some of the fundamental demands of Judaism. We are commanded to be kadosh, holy – to do what is holy – in all that we do. God tells us, “I am holy, so too, you are a holy people unto Me.” But holiness for Jews isn’t a feeling, or sacred relationship – although that is certainly an ingredient in this ancient recipe.
Holiness, as we learn in Kedoshim includes the following tenets:
· You shall not steal.
· You shall not omit a perversion of justice; you shall not favour the poor and you shall not honour the great; with righteousness shall you judge your fellow.
· You shall not be a gossip monger among your people.
· You shall not commit a perversion in justice, in measurements of length, weight or volume. You shall have correct scales, correct weights, correct dry measures and correct liquid measures.
And so much more – Kedoshim commands that, “You shall be holy” takes into account the seemingly mundane daily business of our lives and commands us to be just, true and honest in all that we do. Torah says to us in this Sidra, all the learning in the world matters not, if we pervert that learning with unjust and dishonest actions. Faith alone doesn’t cut Jewish cloth.
For this alone, we should be utterly grateful. Torah is pragmatic, and faces squarely into our all too human propensity, however unfortunate, for foibles, mistruth and deception. Torah wants our values to line up with what we actually do. Everyday.
Kedoshim teaches us that values of truth, compassion and love guide our behaviour. Torah is our recipe for freedom. When our Rabbis began to write down these recipes/teachings, when those teachings were gathered into volumes like Pirke Avot, they were distillations of the already proscribed demands in Torah. Turn it, and turn it, for everything is in it. Reflect on it and grow old and gray with it. Don’t turn from it, for nothing is better than it, said Ben Bag Bag, a student of Rabbi Hillel.