Shabbat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5778–Shabbat Torah Study — What does it mean to be holy?

The essence and framework, perhaps the prime directive, of our faith is contained in this week’s Torah Reading. We are all commanded to be Kadosh—Holy!. Leviticus 19:2.

But what is holiness? Our sages have a variety of ways to understand this mandate.

The one I like best is one that says that it is not enough to live by the letter of the law. Rather, we must look for ways to effectuate the most beautiful meaning and purpose God could intend for us.

In all that we do, we are to look for ways to honor and respect others and be caring and concerned for their needs. Being Kadosh or Kodesh should mean that our behaviors are always glorifying to the Almighty.

What if we evaluated our speech and our actions by whether it would put a smile on God’s face (so to speak) or cause God to feel pride in us.

Is there anything that cannot be said or done with greater kindness, thought or consideration? Sometimes it is not even what we do, but how we do it or say it.

One meaning of “Kodesh” is to be separate or different. It may be unfortunately true that anyone who actually does look for ways to honor and respect others in all that they say and do would truly be different from the majority.

Wouldn’t it feel good to be thought of as one who elevates others and all they are involved in?

I think of holiness as being that little something extra…the secret sauce of the truly good person.

By commanding (and not merely saying) “Kedoshim Tiheyu!”, it is clear this is something to which God would like each of us to strive by looking for opportunities to make a positive difference through acts and words large and small.

Is it possible to ask ourselves each day to do something that is holy? Is there a way to spice up our menu of daily activities with the secret sauce God has given us?

This Shabbat we learn with Ruth Bergman at Adat Shalom Synagogue. About her topic she states, “What does it mean to be holy? What does it mean to come (too) close to God and why might there be danger?” There may be an allusion to Nadav and Avihu there. Maybe look that up for independent study. 9:45 a.m. in the Shiffman Chapel. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.

Shabbat shalom,


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