This week we are privileged to read the portions of Acharei and Kidoshim. (In Israel they are one portion ahead). The portion of Acharei begins describing the service of the High Priest -Kohein Godol, during the holies day of the year, Yom Kippur. The Torah also discusses all the form of prohibited relations and their punishment. The Torah requires that we live a more holy life, and separated from the way of life of other nations.
The portion of Kidoshim has one of the highest amounts of mitzvohs (commandment), than the rest of the Torah portions, both commandments and prohibitions. The greatest and perhaps the litmus test to see where one is holding in his service to Hashem is, “love your fellow man as Yourself.”
The Torah (Vayikro 18/2) tells us: “do not perform the practice (deeds) of the land of Egypt and do not perform the practice of the land of Cannan... and do not follow their traditions. One of the great Chassidic masters explains why does the Torah tell us not to follow the practice of the Egyptians or the Cannanites ? The Torah is talking to someone who has bad desires and tells him, “you want to know what one who follows their desires look like ? Look at the faces of the people that gave in to all their desires, see what they look like, and you won’t desire to sin anymore”. There is also a deeper meaning to this phrase. There’s of course practices that are permissible and practices that are prohibited, however, even permissible practices such as eating and drinking need to be performed appropriately and in a manner befitting for a Jew. This is also reiterated in the beginning of the portion Kidoshim. The portion begins with the command Kidoshim tihiyu - you shall be holy! Our sages translate this to mean - Kaddeish atzmicho bimutar loch - one shall sanctify themselves even with what is permissible. Even if something is permitted, it has limits and a manner how to practice as a mentch or as an animal. Being holy means, not only to refrain from what is forbidden, but even what is permitted, should have measure.
The portion of Kidoshim begins, with Hashem telling Moshe to Speak to the entire congregation and tell them “you shall be holy”. Our sages teach us that this portion was said while everyone was gathered together (bihakheil). One may think that to be holy that’s only for a specific element of Klal Yisroel but not for me. This thought is incorrect. Everyone can achieve holiness, of course on different levels, but one can only strive to reach some form of holiness.
It is getting closer to the holiday of Shavuos and these portions are part of the preparation for the upcoming holiday when we will be accepting and receiving the Torah. May we merit to make the appropriate preparations and be worthy of being the Torah Nation.
Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin