WWOT – Weekly Words of Torah: Parashat Kedoshim

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

This week’s Torah reading, Parashat Kedoshim, is a repetition of the Ten Commandments, in a different order and with some variations in form. Kedoshim is the plural form of the word Kadosh, which means holy, or sacred, or divine. There are many diverse laws detailed in Parashat Kedoshim which, through their observance, will make the Israelites holy, as God is holy. God has set the Jewish people apart from other people, freed the Israelites from slavery, and made the Jewish people the chosen people. We are to emulate God. Just as God is holy, we should act holy, as well.

For example, we are told to provide for the poor and the stranger, and to leave the edges of our fields unharvested, and the fallen fruits of our vineyards ungleaned, so that those in need can come and gather food. We are told to not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind, and to show respect for the elderly. We are to be fair in judgement and in commerce, and are not to bear a grudge. We are not to mix different species of cattle or seed, and are not to wear clothes made from a mixture of two kinds of materials, called shatnez. Moses instructs the Israelites to love their neighbors as themselves, and to love the strangers in their midst, since they were strangers in the Land of Egypt.

One of the most famous Biblical verses is found in Parashat Kedoshim, in Leviticus, Chapter 19, Verse 18, V’ahavta L’reacha Kamocha, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This verse is often referred to as the Golden Rule. This verse is a concept that can also be used at every Sisterhood event. For example, imagine it is your very first time attending a Sisterhood event, or even entering your synagogue community: How would you want to be treated, or greeted? Greet each person that way, even if you have seen the person before, but especially those who seem to be new. Invite them to sit with you, and try to never say that a seat is taken. Be overly warm and welcoming. Call someone who you think may not come to an event or services, without someone else, and invite the person to come along with you. People do not like to enter a room alone, or drive alone. So, call someone to be your buddy to a meeting, event, or services. A great way to implement “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Weekly Words of Torah is a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here.