Friday, April 23, 2021/11 Iyar, 5781
Parashat Acharei Mot – K’doshim Leviticus 16:1-20:27
This week’s Torah portion, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, holds some of the most important, some may even say central lessons of the Torah. This description is very appropriate, as this is the exact center of the Torah scroll. Well, at least that’s what Rabbi Akiva once taught. It’s actually a few chapters off, mathematically, but for the sake of this introduction, go with me. In this Torah portion, we find both the holiness code and the quote, to which Rabbi Akiva referred, “V’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha – Love your neighbor as yourself.”
As you know, I often quote the teaching of our Rabbi Emeritus, David Lieb, that there are no coincidences, and that coincidence is merely God’s way of remaining anonymous. In truth, could there actually be a more appropriate confluence of time, than to read these verses at the end of this week. Rabbi Hillel once taught, while standing on one foot, that this is the most important teaching of the Torah, and all the rest is commentary. Perhaps if we were to learn to live this verse, we would have no need for trials and there would be no more senseless killings. But so long as this is the world we live in, we must be the example, taking this teaching to heart and standing by all of our neighbors.
Of course, if we also took to heart the holiness code, understanding what holiness actually means, then these previous words wouldn’t even need to be said. So what does it mean to be holy? I recently taught some students about the old bumper stickers, you may remember them, they were Christian bumper stickers which said, “WWJD” (What Would Jesus Do). In truth, our Christian cousins were interpreting this week’s Torah portion, I think. Isn’t the definition of holiness, “What would God do?” Whenever I consider what it means to be holy, I interpret it as being Godly, or doing the things that we believe God would do. In short, it is the holiness code. If we always ask ourselves, “What would God do?” then we are being Holy in our deeds and our actions.
If we are Holy, then we will no doubt love our neighbors. If we love our neighbors, then we will place caring for them as a priority in our lives. If we prioritize caring for others, we can heal this world. May this be our lesson this week, and may we continue to be an example of a Holy Nation, showing the world what we can be, if we all strive to be Godly.
Cantor Ilan Davidson