Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Kedoshim Tih'yu ki Betzelem Ehlokim- You will be holy for you are in my image
Vayivra Ehlohim et ha’adam b’tzalmo; b’tzelem Ehlohim bara oto zachar u’n’keivah bara otam.
And God created the man in His image; in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.
Reading this verse one might think it is out of place for parashat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim. This would be because the verse comes from Breishit (1:27), speaking to the origin of humankind. We are created in the image of God, but given no further explanation as to what it means to be in God’s image until now.
Dabeir el kol adat b’nei Yisrael v’amarta aleihem kedoshim tih’yu ki kadosh Ani Adonai Ehloheichem.
Speak to the entire community of the children of Israel, and say to them “You shall be holy for I, Adonai your God, am holy.
What does is mean to be in God’s image? We shall be holy because God is holy.
The inclusion of Vayikra in the Torah for all of the community rather than a book just for the kohanim stresses this point. The laws throughout Vayikra, but especially in this week’s parasha, come to teach us how to be holy, in other words, how to act in God’s image. Acharei Mot begins with the Holiness Code, a user guide for Levitical law and practice. Kedoshim spells out practice for us as a holy society: protecting the weak and needy, ensuring justice, preserving Judaism, respecting the natural order.
It is a wonder that not until now is such an instruction given, and more unfortunate that we, humans, require the instruction. Much of what appears in Kedoshim is given in relation to that which occurs in the society around us. Ad hayom hazeh, until today, holiness is measured not on its own merits, but in relation to the evils of the world. Still, our parasha reminds us that holiness is that for which we strive.