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Parashat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16:1-20:27)

“You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, honest dry measures, and honest liquid measures. I the LORD am your God who freed you from the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:35)

We read two parashot (portions) this week because of how the Jewish calendar is calculated. The moon’s cycle determines the months, but the sun’s cycle determines the year. Therefore, a Jewish year) can have from 50 to 55 weeks. Since the number of parashot doesn’t change, some years require certain parashot to “double up” on a given Shabbat.

Leviticus is considered the heart of the Torah and Parashat K’doshim is considered the heart of Leviticus. This makes K’doshim the heart of the heart of the Torah. It contains a mix of ethical and ritual commands and is known as the Holiness Code because of the many times the word kadosh (holy, or sanctified) appears.

Parashat K’doshim begins with God telling Moses, “Speak to the entire Israelite community and say to them, ‘K’doshim t’hiyu…, be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.’” (Lev. 19:2) K’doshim then commands the Israelites to leave the corners of their fields unharvested and not to go back to pick up any produce that may have fallen along the way (Lev. 19:9). This is Biblical social welfare: the “haves” must provide for the “have-nots.” K’doshim doesn’t specify a minimum threshold, though: no matter how small your plot or limited your bounty, you must share it with those who have even less.

The command k’doshim t’hiyu is given in the plural, signifying a collective responsibility for every element of society: you need many people living virtuous lives in order to support the other individuals struggling to get by. It is well documented Covid-19 affects poor and minority communities disproportionately. How are we providing for them?

Gut Shabbos/Shabbat Shalom

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