Acharei – Kedoshim 5780

April 29, 2020

Spiritual growth is working on area of greatest resistance


Our sedra opens by stressing that the teachings of Kedoshim were specifically taught to the “entire assembly of the Children of Israel” (Vayikra 19:2).  The usual procedure would be that Moses would teach Aaron, and then Aaron’s sons, then the 70 Elders and then he would teach the entire assembly.  Rashi explains that the beginning of the sedra contains the main body of the Torah and therefore it was fitting for it to be taught directly to the entire people.  There are several explanations as to what the “main body of Torah” refers to;


The Alshich (1508–1593, Safed) explains the term “you shall be holy” is an overall imperative to every person and that Judaism does not subscribe to the idea that only certain people are obligated to live a spiritually elevated life, rather being holy and aspiring to holiness applies to everyone.


According to Rabbi Akiva, the command to “love your neighbour as yourself”, that also appears at the beginning of the sedra (Vayikra 19:18) is the main teaching of the Torah and similarly had to be taught to the entire assembly. The Baal HaTurim gives us a third insight that within the sedra of Kedoshim we can find the 10 commandments and therefore it is appropriate that it was taught to the entire assembly.


When the sedra restates the 5th commandment to honour our parents there some significant changes.  Our sedra says teaches “Each person, his mother and father, he shall fear” (Leviticus 19:3).


Rashi cites that here the Torah states mother before father because a child usually fears his father more than his mother.  In the actual 10 commandments however, the Torah tells us to honour our father first and then our mother, as the natural tendency is to honour our mother first before our father. This is a wonderful lesson for us in our spiritual development.  In the areas that we find the most resistance that is where we have to put our efforts in to grow.


We are in the middle of the period of counting the Omer, between Pesach and Shavuot.  It is during this time that we are specifically working on our spiritual growth.  We study and internalise the teachings of the Ethics of our Fathers with the goal of making ourselves a fitting vessel to receive the Torah on the incredible festival of Shavuot.


Under the current “Covid-19 lockdown crisis” Hashem is showing the 7 billion of Humanity what is important in life.  It is a life dedicated to Torah, Avodah (prayer) and acts of kindness (Avot 1:2) that is our goal and what keeps the world going, rather than the running after the transitory pleasures of life.


May Hashem bless us to turn this time of “crisis” into a time of personal growth and through this may Hashem bless all of Humanity with spiritual and physical healing!