Posts Tagged 'Kedoshim'

Love Your Brother: Interdependence on Independence Day

This is a very busy time of year. Last week we had Yom HaShoah and today we commemorated Yom HaZikaron and tonight we celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut. To end off this cycle of anguish and exhilaration, this Shabbat we read Kedoshim. There we read:

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your brother. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)

While the Golden Rule is supposed to be a guideline for all of society, amidst this week we cannot help but understand it in the unique national context of brethren. This week I saw a tear-jerking video on the tension between brothers that you should watch:

This gets to the foundation of our being brethren, but did we need to learn it from Adolf Hitler? And what will our understanding of who we are as a nation be when there are no more survivors in our midst to remind us?

If we did not learn this lesson from our Torah portion, we could also have learned it from any number of other places  in our tradition. I just found an interesting take on this Golden Rules by the Kav HaYashar,  Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kaidanover  a 18th Century teacher of Mussar. He wrote:

It is written, “And you shall love your fellow as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). The Sages have remarked that this verse is a fundamental principle of the Torah (Toras Kohanim, Parashas Kedoshim 4). And there is no greater display of love than the mandatory rebuking of one’s Jewish brother if he sees in him some unseemly matter, that is, a sin or transgression. For the souls of all Israel are intimately connected to one another. (Kav HaYashar 5:1)

How can we be in a deep relationship with people who act differently without being so “judge-itive”? The nature of caring about people is caring about how they act. In a profound way our actions reflect on each other. This intimate connection should also be measured by how much we respect each other’s choices. This is the challenge for every family, nation, and our world today. This starts with how we model the bounds of respect with our siblings and children. We should be blessed to not need Hitler for this.

Yom HaAtzmaut is Israel’s Independence Day and a day for us  to celebrate our interdependence as a Jewish People. Chag Sameakh


On One Kedusha

Not to limit either, but traditional Judaism tends to spend much more of their resources toward keeping the ritual elements of our religious practice holy while turning a blind eye to the greater needs of global poverty and justice. In a similar way, liberal Judaism has tended to skip the ritualism and instead stress how we might create a just planet. I was thinking about this when reading through  Kedoshim, this week’s Torah Portion. There  we learn that holiness is realized through certain behaviors. The examples given here are keeping Shabbat, being in awe of one’s father and mother, not worshiping idols, giving charity, being honest, and the paying of wages on time. The Torah does not give us two lists for how to achieve Kedusha, holiness, in our lives. There is one integrated list. We all need to strive to do our part to make sure that the collective Jewish people are achieving our goal of a sustainable global contribution.

If there is nothing else that I have tried to convey in my past 10 years as a Rabbi, it is that just as there is really only one unified understanding of Kedusha, there is one Jewish people. Here in the messy middle of pluralism we get tangled up in all of the complexities of what we really think of Holiness. Yes, it some times hurts, but we never have to hide who we are. We are all asked to bring our whole selves to the conversation of Holiness. It is my belief that we will only be holy as a collective when each of us are given the room to be whole.

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