The second parsha in our reading this week is Parshas Kedoshim. "Be holy,
because I am holy, Hashem your G-d." It sounds like a tall order. However,
if G-d expects it from us it means we can do it. For many of the
commandments we perform, we recite a blessing first. The text begins "You
are the Source of all blessing Hashem, King of the world, Who _made us holy
with His commandments_, and commanded us to..." Our holiness is through the
performance of the mitzvos, the commandments. Let's see a selection of the
commandments of this week's parsha.
"Each person should fear his mother and father." What is fearing parents?
Don't sit in their place, don't contradict them, don't judge the correctness
of their words, don't call them by their first name. A parent is permitted
to forego this obligation we have toward them.
Leave a corner of a field of standing crops for the poor. This applies to
any food which keeps in storage, grows from the ground, is harvested at one
time, and is stored. There is no minimum amount to leave, but the Rabbis
said one should not leave less than 1/60th of one's crops.
Don't deny owing money. This applies to deposits left with you, loans,
wages, stolen money, articles of others which you found.
Don't hold back the wages of a worker. Even when one agrees to the debt,
one should not hold the wages from the employee past the conventional or
agreed upon time.
Don't put a stumbling block before the blind. This is a commandment
(mitzvah) not to cause others to fall through deliberately giving bad
advice. It also includes causing another person to sin, such as serving him
non-kosher food, or causing him to desecrate the Sabbath.
Judge with righteousness. Both plaintiffs should be treated equally, not
one standing and the other seated, or one speaking at length and the other
given a short time to explain his side. Included in this mitzvah is to give
people the benefit of the doubt.
One may not speak negatively about another person, or tell someone
something negative someone elso said about them, even if it is true.
One may not hold back from saving another person from danger. We must
even try to help a person avoid a monetary loss.
One may not hate his fellow in his heart. The way to avoid transgressing
this mitzvah is by expressing your anger to the person for what he did to you.
One may not embarrass others. This applies especially in public.
No taking revenge, and not holding a grudge. Revenge is "you didn't lend
me your saw, and so I won't lend you my hammer." Holding a grudge is "here's
my saw. I'm not like you."
Love your fellow. One must try to relate toward his fellow as he would
relate to himself. For example, he should defend his fellow from others who
seek to embarrass him, hurt him financially, or physically just as he would
do for himself. It is a serious transgression to raise one self up by
knocking others down.
Stand before age. This mitzvah even includes wise people who are not
elderly, and elderly people even if they are not wise.
Weights and measures must be exact. This means that people who sell by
weight and volume must have counterbalances, and other measurements which
are correct by objective standards.
These are some of the mitzvos of parshas Kedoshim. They are the fabric of a
holy people. We have a unique relationship with G-d. He tells us to be holy
- why? - because I am holy.