The Holiness of Immigration Reform

The Holiness of Immigration Reform

May 6, 2006 By JTS Alumni | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

By Rabbi Felipe Goodman

One of the most beautiful yet most difficult to understand statements made by God in the entire Torah is contained in the opening verses of Parashat Kedoshim: “K’doshim tihyu ki kadosh Ani Adonai Eloheihem [You shall be holy, for I, The Lord your God, am holy].” In a sense, this is one of the things that we as humans expect God to demand from us. To read the opening words of Parashat K’doshim produces no great shock or crisis in faith; on the contrary, it immediately makes us proud to know that God expects more from us than what we usually expect from ourselves.

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Caring for Our Parents

Caring for Our Parents

May 9, 2009 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

The third verse of Parashat K’doshim says, “Ish imo v’aviv tira’u” (One should revere his mother and father) (Lev. 19:3). The same mandate appears twice as the fifth commandment, “Kabed et avikha v’et imekha” (Honor your father and your mother) (Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16). Honoring parents was considered a virtue in the Roman world. Parents took care of their children, and children were expected to return the favor when parents grew old. But Rome did not create a legal obligation to care for parents, and a child who refused to do so could not be compelled by the courts.

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The Treasure of Inner Wisdom

The Treasure of Inner Wisdom

May 5, 2012 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

The very sage pediatrician who examined my newborn son, my firstborn, asked me what his temperament is like. My husband and I exchanged looks, and out poured our utter dismay at how to handle our colicky little treasure. I will never forget the doctor’s words of advice: You know what to do. Listen to your gut instincts. You are already wise.

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Healthy (and Maybe Even Holy) Ambivalence

Healthy (and Maybe Even Holy) Ambivalence

Apr 24, 2010 By David Hoffman | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

Building identity is complicated and sometimes painful work. This is true both on an individual level and when it comes to nations. What makes thinking about identity even more complicated is the fact that identity is really never completely “formed.” Sure, a national identity should have core commitments. But I would suggest that we shift our understanding of identity from something that is fixed to a subjective process by which one group comes to recognize itself as being different from other groups. Understood in these terms, identity is dynamic—always emerging and continually being transformed over time.

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Sacrifice and Humility

Sacrifice and Humility

Apr 11, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Aharei Mot

The Torah reading opens with God speaking to Moses in the aftermath of the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu, who “drew too close to the presence of the Lord” (Lev. 16:1). But most immediately, as is the case in the aftermath of any trauma, we want to learn how to avoid another tragic “accident.”

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Embracing Life in the Face of Death

Embracing Life in the Face of Death

Apr 17, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim | Yom Hazikaron-Yom Ha'atzma'ut

This past week, we commemorated State of Israel Memorial Day (Yom Hazikkaron) and State of Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzma’ut). The juxtaposition of these two observances is jarring. Living in Israel, one feels how mourning permeates every moment of Yom Hazikkaron: from the piercing siren that sounds around the entire country at 8:00 p.m. to the mournful songs played on Israeli radio; from the Yizkor (memorial service) stickers with the Israeli plant known as dam hamakabim (the blood of the Maccabees) to the throngs of Israeli citizens flooding Mount Herzl Cemetery. At the close of this sobering day, transition ceremonies give way to the festivities of Yom Ha’azma’ut: fireworks decorate the night sky and festive barbeques fill the landscape of every square meter of Israeli parks.

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In the Wake of Tragedy

In the Wake of Tragedy

Apr 28, 2007 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

In the immediate wake of tragedy, our response is appropriately silence. Aaron movingly illustrated this in the parashah from two weeks ago after he lost his sons, Nadav and Avihu. Following their shocking deaths, the Torah records Aaron’s response to Moses’ attempt at consolation simply as, “and Aaron was silent” (Leviticus 10:3). We cannot begin to imagine the sense of loss and disbelief that radiated from the depths of his soul when he learned his sons were destroyed by the God who ordained their service.

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The Saint and the Zohar

The Saint and the Zohar

May 1, 2015 By Vivian B. Mann <em>z”l</em> | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

We often think of Jewish life in Spain in terms of the massacres of 1391 and the Spanish Expulsion in 1492. But the art made for the Church between those two dates presents a more nuanced view of Christian–Jewish relations.

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Getting Out of Your Own Way

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Apr 16, 2013 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

“You shall not . . . place a stumbling block before the blind. You shall fear your God. I am the Lord.” Taken literally, this is a verse about respecting the disabled. Taken figuratively—as the Rabbis give us ample precedent and license to do—it is about all of us.

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A Holy Tongue: Kedushah and the Ethics of Speech

A Holy Tongue: Kedushah and the Ethics of Speech

May 1, 2015 By Marc Gary | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

A few years ago, my wife and I attended a retreat at Camp Ramah Darom in northern Georgia. The scholar-in-residence for the Shabbat was Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, a widely respected author of popular books on Jewish literacy and Jewish ethics. He suggested that all of us in attendance—approximately 100 adults—commit to one of the most difficult challenges we had ever faced: refrain from talking about other people for the duration of Shabbat. That is to say, for an entire day, we should speak not a word of gossip. I will not tell you whether we succeeded or failed in that challenge, but I will tell you that it was a very long 25 hours indeed.

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