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Parsha

Date: 6.5.24 / 28 Nisan 5784

Parsha: Kedoshim: Leviticus 19:1-14

 

Acharei Mot describes the service of the High Priest on Yom Kippur. It was a dramatic and powerful ceremony during which he cast lots on two identical goats, one of which was offered as a sacrifice and the other was sent into the wilderness. This is where the idea of a “scapegoat” comes from. Then the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies, which was the spiritual high-point of the Jewish year. The parsha also details more of the laws of holiness such as the prohibition against eating blood, and the laws of forbidden relationships.

Kedoshim continues to discuss holiness laws, changing focus from the world of the Mishkan and the Kohanim to the Israelites as a whole. The people of Israel are commanded to be holy because “I, the Lord your God, am holy.” These laws include the commands to “love your neighbour and the stranger”, as well as other ritual laws. The second half of the parsha deals with forbidden relationships and prohibited pagan practices.

 

Thought of Rabbi Sacks

 

Love your neighbour. Love the stranger. Hear the cry of the otherwise unheard. Liberate the poor from their poverty. Care for the dignity of all. Let those who have more than they need share their blessings with those that have less. Feed the hungry, house the homeless, and heal the sick in body and mind. Fight injustice, whoever it is done by and whoever it is done against. And do these things because, because, being human, we are bound by a covenant of human solidarity, whatever our colour or culture, class or creed. These are moral principles, not economic or political ones. They have to do with conscience, not wealth or power. But without them, freedom will not survive.

 

Morality, Introduction p. x

 

Around the Shabbat Table

 

1. How are love and holiness connected?

2. What are the differences between the prophetic, wisdom, and priestly voices in Tanach?

3. Why is the priestly voice the one that commands us to love humanity and protect the natural universe?

 

Answers

 

1. The commands to love are found in the Book of Vayikra, which teaches us all about holiness. Using love as the central value of morality, to guide us in how we relate to fellow humans, is a holy way to live.

2. Prophetic morality looks at the quality of relationships within a society, between us and God and between us and our fellow humans. The wisdom voice in Torah and Tanach looks at character and consequence. If you live virtuously, then by and large things will go well for you. The moral vision of the Priest focuses on the key word kadosh, “holy.” This is what makes him different from the Prophet and the Sage. Holy is someone or something that is set apart, distinctive, different. The Priest looks beyond the basic functions of society and consequences. He leads us to a higher level of behaviour.

3. Unlike the Prophet, the Priest is not looking at society. Unlike the wisdom figure, he is not looking for happiness. He is looking at creation as the work of God. He knows that everything has its place: sacred and profane, permitted and forbidden. The ethic of holiness and the priestly voice in the Torah is based on the vision of creation-as-God’s-work-of-love. This vision sees all human beings – ourselves, our neighbour and the stranger – as in the image of God, and that is why we are to love our neighbour and the stranger as we love our self.

 

 

 

Parsha summary adapted from Chabad.org and Rabbi Sacks Legacy

The weekly mitzvot are adapted from the PAJES Primary Parashat Hashavua Curriculum, and form the basis of the school's PSHE curriculum for all pupils alongside the Torah, Well Being and Me curriculum.