Acharei Mos/ Kedoshim

This week’s Parsha is Parshas Acharei Mos and Parshas Kedoshim. We are taught that Parshas Kedoshim was said in public, in front of the entire Jewish people, to make sure each and every one of them heard it from Moses. Why is it that of all the Parshas in the Torah this is the one selected to say in Public?

The word Kedoshim means holy. The Torah commands each and every Jew that they are to be holy. How can the Torah expect every Jew to be holy? Isn’t the concept of being holy reserved for a select few people who live a life that is different than normal people?

Our Sages tell us that at the time of the second Temple there was a group of Jews whose members abstained entirely from this world, even to the point of living in deserts and forests, far away from other people. The Sages were opposed to this approach. The Sages of that time took the title “Perushim” (Pharasees), to show that the true Perushim (ones who separate from this mundane world) who are living a life as the Torah wants, are the people who are following the ways of our Sages.

The cause of holiness, explain our commentaries, is the simple act of doing the commandments. Every time we do a mitzvah, we perform a commandment, we say a blessing. We thank Hashem Asher Kidshanu Bmitzvosav - for sanctifying us with His mitzvahs in general, and commanding us to do the specific mitzvah that we are about to do in particular. These mitzvahs are what make us holy.

As soon as the Torah instructs us to be holy, it tells us to honor our parents, keep Shabbos, leave part of our produce for the poor,… With these mitzvahs, actions that are done on a regular basis with physical material in our mundane world, we become holy. Every time we do a mitzvah, be it prayer and tefillin, be it kindness and charity, we are becoming holy.

This is why the Parsha of Kedoshim was taught in public. The Torah wants to teach us that the holiness that it expects from us is something that can be demanded and obtained from every single Jew. “For you are a Holy nation” the Torah says of the Jewish people. We can all reach the level of being a holy person, if we only try to follow the commandments of the Torah, and fulfill our obligations.