Weekly Portion Kedoshim, Leviticus 19:1 – 20:27

This is the portion that invokes the Jewish people to be holy! It then proceeds with the spiritual directions on how to achieve holiness, closeness to the Almighty. Within it lie the secrets and the prescription for Jewish continuity. If any group of people is to survive as an entity, it must have common values and goals — a direction and a meaning. By analyzing this portion we can learn much about our personal and national destiny. It is truly a “must read!”

Some of the mitzvot (commandments): Revere your parents, observe Shabbat, no idol worship, gifts to the poor, deal honestly, love your fellow Jew, refrain from immoral sexual relationships, honor old people, love the proselyte, don’t engage in sorcery or superstition, do not pervert justice, observe kashruth and more. The portion ends, “You shall observe all My decrees and ordinances … you shall be holy … I have separated you from the peoples to be Mine.”

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Dvar Torah
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states:

“You shall love your fellow as yourself, I am God” (Lev. 19:18).

What does this mean?

When the proselyte asked Hillel to condense the entire Torah and teach it to him in the brief time that he could stand on one foot, Hillel said, ” ‘You shall love your fellow as yourself,’ that is the essence of Torah. All the rest is commentary.” Given the centrality of this verse, it is not unusual that it has been given numerous interpretations. Let us look at some of them.

The Baal Shem Tov said that just as you love yourself in spite of your shortcomings, so you should love another person in spite of his shortcomings.

On the verse, “God is your shade at your right hand” (Psalms 121:5), the Baal Shem Tov commented that just as a person’s shadow mimics his every move, so God acts toward a person the way that person acts toward others. Therefore, he said the verse can also be read as, “You shall love your fellow, because I, God, will be like you.” If you will be forgiving to others, I will be forgiving to you. If you will insist on exacting unrelenting justice, I will do likewise to you.

Arvei Nachal writes if another person is in the same business as you, you may feel that he is a competitor, and that may cause you to dislike him. Therefore, the Torah emphasizes, “You shall love your fellow who is as yourself.”


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