What 'Holiness' Looks Like

When a religious person conducts himself no differently than the common, ordinary people around him, he makes God look common and ordinary too.

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Regular Shabbat Readings

  • Kedoshim (קְדשִׁים | Holy)
  • Torah: Leviticus 19:1-20:27
  • Haftarah: Amos 9:7-15
  • Gospel: Mark 12:28-34

The above audio readings are for the regular weekly Torah portions, but are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. We only provide the regular audio readings when these interruptions occur. Refer to the current Torah Portion Schedule or the curent year's readings for variations.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Leviticus 19:1 | Ritual and Moral Holiness
    • Leviticus 20:1 | Penalties for Violations of Holiness
  • Prophets
    • Amo 9:1 | The Destruction of Israel
    • Amo 9:11 | The Restoration of David's Kingdom

Portion Summary

The thirtieth reading from the Torah and seventh reading from Leviticus is named Kedoshim, which mean "holy." The title comes from the words in Leviticus 19:2, which says, "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy." Leviticus 19 describes the holy community through a series of specific commandments. Leviticus 20 warns against the snares of sexual immorality and idolatry, mandating a death penalty for certain sins. Except in biblical leap years, Kedoshim is read on the same Sabbath as the previous reading, Acharei Mot.

What does a holy person look like? Do you picture a priest or a nun? Maybe a preacher? Perhaps you imagine a Chassidic Jew with a full beard, side locks and black hat. Leviticus 19-20 contains the Bible's description of what holiness looks like.

The passage begins with the words, "Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy'" (Leviticus 19:2).One of the laws of holiness states, "You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another" (Leviticus 19:11).

Have you ever been ripped off by a religious person? It's not surprising when we are cheated by people of the world. But it is disconcerting when a professing Christian or an observant Jew deceives or financially abuses us. We expect more from the religious person than a secular person. We assume that a religious person will conduct his affairs in concert with his moral values. That makes the religious person different from the secular person. That's what being holy is all about.

The Torah says that when a religious person conducts himself without integrity, he profanes the name of God. The word profane is the opposite of the word holy. Holy means "set apart." Profane means "common and ordinary." When a religious person conducts himself no differently than the common, ordinary people around him, he makes God look common and ordinary too. He damages God's reputation. An unbeliever who steals, deceives, lies, perjures and swindles is unremarkable, but when a believer acts that way, he disgraces the faith and gives opportunity for unbelievers to say, "You see? He is just like us. I knew there was no substance to his God or his religion."

The sages understood the commandment, "You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him" (Leviticus 19:13) to be a prohibition against dishonest business transactions. As disciples of Yeshua obedient to God's Torah, we need to strive for scrupulous honesty, especially in matters of business.

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Unrolling the Scroll. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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