Sedra of the week: Kedoshim

Sedra of the week: Kedoshim

Rabbi Ariel Abel looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Kedoshim as a standalone reading is the most concentrated line-up of mitzvot in the Torah.

The first word announces “holiness”, synonymous in Hebrew with “separation” from transgressing God’s Torah.

In that context we are warned against swearing falsely, ignoring the weekly Day of Rest, cursing and remembering the poor as we harvest crops.

Seeking justice is the next premise for commands which include not perverting the course of justice, avoiding gossip, grudge-bearing and revenge.

Respect for nature is the next stage for mitzvot, such as abstaining from fruit produced in the first three years of the life of a tree and sanctifying the fourth-year fruit; opposing witchcraft, tattooing and prostitution.

Truthfulness encapsulates the next topic: love for converts and honesty in business. Injunctions against idolatry, sexual offences in that context and laws of kashrut round off the set of 51 commandments, 1/12th of the Torah’s total.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis recently highlighted the theme of Kedoshim as setting a moral example in spiritual leadership.

Leviticus, which contains this collection of statements of holiness, reminds us that justice, respect for other and our environment, honesty, loyalty and discipline are the core values of the Torah.

The significance of these topics listed under this heading is that the Levites who taught the people and ministered to them had to embody these positive behaviours.

If not, they could not stand as emblems of public morality.

Rabbi Ariel Abel serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and is padre to HM Armed Forces

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