In Holiness

Parsha and its Implementation - Kedoshim - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - 5779

Parashat Kedoshim is usually read in the weeks when Holocaust Remembrance Day and the days of remembrance and Independence fall. The commandment of holiness that opens our Parsha contains a deep and contemporary message connected to the destiny of the Jewish people in the world.

"וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר, דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־כָּל־עֲדַ֧ת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֥ אֲלֵהֶ֖ם קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ כִּ֣י קָד֔וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י ה' אֱלֹקיכֶֽם׃"

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the LORD your G-d, am holy..." (Vayikra 19: 1).

There is a deep and essential connection between the commandment of the sanctity of the Jewish people and its purpose to reveal the holy transcendental reality of the Almighty in the world: "For I am holy".

Since the rise of the people of Israel on the stage of history, its unique destiny has been set:"

וְאַתֶּ֧ם תִּהְיוּ־לִ֛י מַמְלֶ֥כֶת כֹּהֲנִ֖ים וְג֣וֹי קָד֑וֹשׁ

"but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." (Shmot 19:6)  

וְאַנְשֵׁי־קֹ֖דֶשׁ תִּהְי֣וּן לִ֑י You shall be holy people to Me. (Shmot 22:30)

Because of this noble mission, the people of Israel are required to serve as a model for all the nations, and hence a unique commandment that only the Jewish people are commanded: "The commandment of Kiddush Hashem".

כל בית ישראל מצווין על קדוש השם הגדול הזה שנאמר ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל ומוזהרין שלא לחללו שנאמר ולא תחללו את שם קדשי (רמב"ם יסודי התורה ה' א').

The Mitzva is mentioned in the following Parasha:

וְלֹ֤א תְחַלְּלוּ֙ אֶת־שֵׁ֣ם קָדְשִׁ֔י וְנִ֨קְדַּשְׁתִּ֔י בְּת֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֲנִ֥י ה' מְקַדִּשְׁכֶֽם׃

You shall not profane My holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people—I the LORD who sanctify you, (Vayikra 22:32).

According to the "Torat HaCohanim", this also has a deeper meaning. The destiny of the people of Israel to represent and reveal G-d's name and holiness in the world creates an inseparable connection between the people of Israel and what He represents, and the reality of Hashem. This is also the result of the attitude of the nations of the world to the people of Israel and the eternal survival of the Jewish people. Throughout the generations, many people have tried to crack the riddle of anti-Semitism. And in our generation the riddle of "anti-Israelism". What is causing the hatred and the abysmal resistance to the people of Israel and its Torah? A phenomenon that has no parallel with any other nation in the world?! There is no nation and religion in the world that has been persecuted throughout history like the Jewish religion and who tried to exterminate them like the Jewish people. And today: in the face of the horrors and the murder of thousands that are taking place all over the world, the world does not gather to condemn but the State of Israel!

There were those who tried to explain the phenomenon in the divergence and separation of the Jewish people. This, however, does not explain why even when there was integration and even assimilation did occur, not only the anti-Semitism did not disappear, but intensified. And even created a sense of threat. Some tried to explain this by saying that the friction existed in the Diaspora and thought that when there will be an independent Jewish state, the phenomenon would disappear. And not only has it not disappeared, it has been converted to anti-Israelism.

Maimonides referred to this in the letter of Yemen: "The idolaters have all envied our religion with great envy, and their kings will press for it to provoke hatred and enmity against us, and their desire to fight G-d but who can oppose Him". Resistance to Am Israel is not personal, but because of what it represents - the transcendent and holiest Divine presence in the world. This is how it was, and how it is. Also, our conflict with our neighbors is not about territory. But on this matter. Therefore, they cannot and don't want to compromise, and recognize our existence. Those who read and hear what they say and write about "Jihad" and "Shuhada", it is said explicitly.

On the other hand, anyone who stands up to fight against our enemies who revolt against us, therefore, is willing to sacrifice his soul for it, is brave. Although on the open level this is a war of national existence, but above the surface it is a war on "Kidush Hashem", even if unconsciously.

On Memorial Day, we commemorate the memory of those who fell in Israel's wars. We refer to them as those who fell on Kiddush Hashem, which is reserved for the righteous: "and whosoever, concerning whom it is said that he shall die and not transgress, and he did die and did not transgress, he sanctified the Name of God; and if this happened in the presence of ten Israelites, he sanctified the Name of God among many, even like unto Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah and Rabbi Akiba and his associates, who have been slain by decree of a tyrannical government to which degree of martyrdom there is no parallel, concerning whom it is said: כִּֽי־עָ֭לֶיךָ הֹרַ֣גְנוּ כָל־הַיּ֑וֹם נֶ֝חְשַׁ֗בְנוּ כְּצֹ֣אן טִבְחָֽה׃ "But for Thy sake we are killed all the day; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (Psalms 44:23); and concerning whom it is moreover said: "Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice" (Ibid 50:5) (Rambam Mishneh Torah Foundations of the Torah 5).

Those who fell for the sanctification of G-d's name ascend to be on the wings of the Divine Presence, in the source of reality, at the root of being, and from there they shine and illuminate like the radiance of the firmament and influence our world and its growth.

"בְּמַעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וּטְהוֹרִים, כְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מַזְהִירִים"

"Within the ascents of the holy and the pure, who shine like the starry heaven…". (El Malé Raḥamim Prayer for the Victims of the Shoah).

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