Parashat Kedoshim
By Rabbi Shari Chen

“God spoke to Moses saying speak to the children of Israel and tell them you shall be holy for I the Lord your God, am holy.”

These words begin this week’s Torah parashat Kedoshim – our Holiness code. Many years ago, I was told by my Rabbi, that each rabbi has one biblical verse that defines them. My verse just so happens to be in this week’s portion. “Vahaftah la reiachah camochah – you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” If only more of the leaders of the world followed this commandment!

If we wish to be holy, if we wish to love and honor God, we must begin by learning to love and honor one another. In reading through our Holiness code most of the things that God asks us to are not about a relationship with the divine, but about our relationships with one another. God tells us not to lie, not to cheat, not to slander one another. He tells us not to curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person. He tells us to pay our workers on time, and never insult or embarrass someone in public. Most of all though, God tells us to love and respect each other, the way we wish to be loved and respected.

God lives inside of each of us. It is time to remember that if we truly wish to be holy, we must embrace the stranger. We must see the Godliness in everyone. If we can do that, then not only will we become “holy” but more importantly, we will finally establish peace here in this world.

Shabbat Shalom!