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Rebbe El on Travel and Israel – Acharei Mot – Kedoshim 5778


As a result of the observance of Passover for seven days in Israel, and eight days outside of Israel, the Jewish community in Israel and in the Diaspora, have not been reading the same Torah portions since the conclusion of Passover.  However, this week, as we read the double portion of Acharei Mot and Kedoshim, we have finally caught up to the Torah readings – and Israel is also reading Parashat Kedoshim. 

Parashat Kedoshim, which means holy, is like a mini Ten commandments, teaching us how we need to behave, and how one should lead a holy life. I still have my pocket size Tanach, Bible, which I used during my study for the Chidon Tanach test, the National Bible contest,  with my principal, teacher, inspiration, and guide, Morah Miriam Vatkin, at my Solomon Schechter Day School in Brooklyn, New York, the Bialik School. We would study with Morah Miriam during lunch for the Chidon Tanach test, and she would say, if this Pasuk, verse is on the test, I will give you all a pizza pie contest, and we would underline the verse in our Tanach, and I would put a pizza pie symbol on the side, to show that she promised a pizza part if that pasuk was indeed on the test. To this day, my verse favorite page of the Tanach is the page of Leviticus, chapter 19, the beginning of Parashat Kedoshim, because nearly every pasuk, Morah Miriam had us underline, to memorize, for she predicted it would be on the Chidon Tanach test. I honestly cannot tell you if all the verses were on the Chidon Tanach test, but they have served me well in the test of life!  “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (19:2) I try to live my life that way, and teach my children and students that all we do, we should do, to bring holiness into God’s world. “You shall each revere his mother and his father and keep My Sabbaths.” (19:3)  My first Hebrew teacher was my mother; my love of Judaism and the state of Israel comes from my parents. I love Shabbat because of the home life my parents gave me, and continue to give our family today. In Parashat Kedoshim, we are taught to not have idols; to leave part of our fields and harvests for the poor; we are taught to help those in need; we are taught to pay your workers their salaries on the day of service, and in a timely fashion; we are not to deal deceitfully or falsely with others; we are not to use God’s name in vain.  We are taught not to defraud our fellow person, and not to put stumbling blocks to the deaf or blind. We are not to mix breed animals, and so overwork them. The Golden Rule is brought forth in this Torah portion – “V’ahavta l’reacha Ka’mocha” “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (19:18).   How fitting that the overall name of the Torah Portion – Kedoshim – holiness – truly summarizes what I see as the ultimate goal of life – and of Judaism – to bring holiness into this world – to love our fellow person –  and to be partners with God, to bring holiness into this world. Holiness surrounds us always, however, one place where God’s holiness manifests itself even more, is in our State of Israel. Join ITC soon, to see God’s holiness in the State of Israel ! Shabbat Shalom !