30 Apr Special Guest Torah Spark by Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik for Acharei-Mot/Kedoshim 5775
This week’s Torah Spark was guest written by Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik.
In the midst of Moses delivering collections of rules to the Israelites, throughout this week’s double Torah portion of Acharei-Mot/Kedoshim, God interjects, speaks to Moses and says, “Speak to the entire Israelite community and say to them – ‘You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy.’” Why does the Torah specify the need for the “entire” Israelite community, when it was much more common to refer to the people as simply “the people of Israel?” For the Israelites, in a time where their connection to God and role within society often depended on their status, this all-encompassing statement stood out to all who heard God’s words. Not only Priests and Levites, the elders, and the entire leadership structure that Moses and Yitro had created were instructed to be holy, but so too were all of the Israelite people – no matter their tribe, gender, age, or status.
And in this moment, as we reconnect with this ancient Divine instruction, we are all charged to be special, to be different, to be God-like; “to be holy, just as God is holy.” Whether we are old or young, man or woman, religiously inclined, observant or disconnected – this commandment applies to all of us. The power of God’s words still resonates today and compels us to strive for holiness in our everyday lives. Not just to be holy ourselves in our actions and words, but to acknowledge the inherent holiness contained within every person we meet, as we are all created in the image of God.
Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik