Vayikrah / Lev. 19:1 – 20:27

Haftarah: Amos 9:7-15

Brit Hadashah: Mark 12:28-34

Kedoshim means “saints”; “separate”; “set-apart”.

Summary of our parashat

The Kedoshim section begins with the phrase “You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your Elohim, am holy.”

This is followed by dozens of Mitzvot (Divine commands) through which the Jew sanctifies himself and relates to the holiness of Adonai. These include the prohibition against idolatry, the Mitzvah of charity, the principle of equality before the law, Shabbat, sexual morality, honesty in business, honor, and fear of parents, and the importance of life.

Also, in Kedoshim is the phrase that Rabbi Akiva taught that this is a cardinal principle of the Jewish faith and about which Hillel said: “This is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Thus begins our parashat:

Vayikrah / Lev. 19-1


Vayedaber Adonay el-Moshe lemor.

“And Adonai spoke to Moshe, saying:”

Vayikrah / Lev. 19:2

דַּבֵּר אֶל־כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדֹושׁ אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם

Daber el-kol-adat beney-Yisra’el ve’amarta alehem kedoshim tiheyu ki kadosh ani Adonay Eloheyjem.

“Speak to the whole congregation of the children of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I, Adonai, your Elohim, am holy.

1st Comment

Vayikrah / Lev. 19:2

“Speak to the whole congregation of the children of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I, Adonai, your Elohim, am holy.

What does it mean to be holy?

Being holy conveys the idea of ​​keeping separate from the impure.

Therefore, what is holy is removed from common usage and considered sacred, especially due to its clean and pure condition. HaShem is holy to a supreme degree.

The Bible says, “There is none holy like Adonai” (1 Samuel 2:2). So, it is fitting that HaShem sets the standard for what is holy.

The order to be holy is followed by a series of laws that not only covers one area of man’s life but many different areas. It talks about the relationship with the parents, keeping the shabát, not committing idolatry, offering correctly, leaving aside the products of the field for the poor, not stealing, not deceiving or lying, not swearing false, not oppressing or stealing, not withholding the salary of a day laborer, not mistreating the disabled, fearing HaShem, etc.

All these laws make the people of Israel holy, set apart from the other nations by different conduct, and consecrated to HaShem through the elevation to a level of divine service of all that is done in life. This teaches us that the whole of life, even the practicality we do every day, does not fall outside of our relationship with HaShem.

Can an imperfect person be holy?

Yes. HaShem gives this commandment to his children: (1 Peter 1:16).

They have to be saints because I am a saint”

Imperfect humans will never be able to perfectly meet HaShem’s standards of holiness.

But, if they obey HaShem’s righteous laws, he can consider them holy and acceptable as Rav says. Shaul in the letter to the Jews in Italy: (Romans 12:1-2):

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of Hashem’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to HaShem — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Hashem’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Those who strive to be saints show it with their words and actions.

For example, they follow the biblical advice to be holy and refrain from fornication, and to be “holy also in all their conduct” as written in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 1 Peter 1:15:

“3 It is Hashem’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know HaShem; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. HaShem will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For HaShem did not call us to be impure but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but HaShem, the very Elohim who gives you his Ruaj HaKodesh / Spirit of Holiness.”

Peter 1:13-21:

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Yeshua HaMashiaj is revealed at his coming. 14  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy because I am holy.”17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Mashiaj, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in HaShem, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in Elohim.”

Everything we do has to be for him.

To be holy is to live whole for HaShem. The holiness of the children of HaShem includes everything they do and everything they don’t do. Holiness involves you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is why holiness has to do with lifestyle, entirely dedicated to HaShem as a fragrant smell that expresses the deep love, we have for him.

To be holy is not to walk in the clouds.

To be a saint is not to live in a monastery outside of society.

To be holy is not to be drunk on spiritual experiences.

To be holy is to reflect the character of HaShem and fulfill obligations in daily and festive life with a correct attitude.

To be holy is to reflect the heavenly Father on earth.

To be holy is to be like Yeshua.

Is it possible that HaShem stops considering us holy?

Yes. The Father will no longer consider one of His children to be a saint if he fails to comply with the standards of conduct that he has established.

For example, the message of the biblical book written to the Hebrew Jews was addressed to the “holy brothers”, but they were warned that they could develop “a wicked heart and lack of faith by turning away from the living Elohim” (Hebrews 3:1, 12).

2nd Commentaries

Vayikrah / Lev. 19:17-18 

“You shall not hate your compatriot in your heart; you can certainly rebuke your neighbor, but you will not incur sin because of him. You will not take revenge or hold a grudge against the children of your people, but you will love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai.

Who is the neighbor?

The fundamental principle of Judaism is found in this text, “to love one’s neighbor as oneself.”

Four different terms that define other people appear in these two verses.

The four are:

  • Compatriot (v. 17) – aj, אח – literally “brother”
  • Neighbor (v. 17) – amit, עמית – companion
  • Son of the People (v. 18) – ben am, בן עם
  • Neighbor (v. 18) – Rhea, רע

All four are used in these verses as synonyms, with the same meaning. The question arises whether they refer only to the Israelites or to all the people of the world. The answer is found in other texts.

In B’reshit / Gen. 9:5 it is written:

“And I will certainly ask for an account of the blood of your lives; of every animal, I will demand. And from every man, from the brother of every man, I will demand the life of man.”

In B’reshit / Gen. 24:4 it is written:

“And Yaakov said to the shepherds, ‘My brethren, where are you from? And they said, ‘We are from Haran.'”

In these two texts the word ajbrother – is used when referring to the relationship between any type of men.

In the first case, it is said that all the sons of Noah are brothers. Therefore, according to the Torah, all men on earth are brothers.

In the second text, our father Ya’akóv says “brothers” to idolatrous pastors who were not related to him or shared his nationality. Of the four terms, aj is the one that could express the most exclusivity because a brother is the closest neighbor we have. However, it is precisely that term that the Torah uses to say that all the sons of Noah are family and that Ya’akóv used to talk to strange people.

So, using the first law of interpretation of Scripture – kal va-jomer – we can say that if the term ajbrother – is used universally among all men of the earth, how much more the term rhea – neighbor – must include all the men and women of the earth! It is a universal love, not limited to the group to which one belongs.

Matittiyahu / Mt. 22:34-40

34 Hearing that Yeshua / Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the Torah / law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Torah?” 37 Yeshua replied: “‘Love Adonai your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Torah and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Love your neighbor as yourself!

Shabát Shalom Mishpojah!


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