There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sephardic, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion Kedoshim, aliyah by aliyah.
Kedoshim, Leviticus 19:1-20:27
Aliyah 1 – Leviticus 19:1-14
Leviticus 19:2 “Speak to the entire community of Isra’el; tell them, ‘You people are to be holy because I, HaShem your G-d, am holy.
It has been said that everything HaShem asks of Israel, he does as well. That concept is wild, but I buy it. If He is true and just and righteous and the Torah is a reflection of His heart and soul, then everything bound up in it would be something he is willing to do and would be what he would do. In the person of Yeshua the Messiah, part of the definition is that he has to live out Torah perfectly or else he can not be Messiah. As disciples of Messiah, we are to follow and imitate him. HaShem models leadership by example and demands that his children, his people do as he says because he does as he says.
Leviticus 19:3 Every one of you is to revere his father and mother, and you are to keep my Shabbats; I am HaShem your G-d.
Again, this leading is baked into the Torah. HaShem instructs children to honor their parents. He honors parents by elevating them to a position of headship over their children. They are to instruct their children to honor HaShem, in part through honoring shabbat. Shabbat removes the worldy concerns from a family, allowing them to focus more on HaShem. All these factors work in concert to form a virtuous cycle that builds honor, respect and reciprocity into the life of the believing family. The family perpetuates the species so that finite Man can keep in relationship with the infinite and eternal Divinity.
Leviticus 19:4 Do not turn to idols, and do not cast metal gods for yourselves; I am HaShem your G-d.
There is only One True King and he demands loyalty
Leviticus 19:5 When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to HaShem, offer it in a way that will make you accepted.
There is a clear path of how to love and honor HaShem and we must follow it.
Leviticus 19:6 It is to be eaten the same day you offer it and the following day; but if any of it remains until the third day, it is to be burned up completely.
Everything has its time and place and the boundaries are what define each element and makes it meaningful
Leviticus 19:7 If any of it is eaten on the third day, it will have become a disgusting thing and will not be accepted;
Again, the limitations on offerings make them special.
Leviticus 19:8 moreover, everyone who eats it will bear the consequences of profaning something holy meant for HaShem — that person will be cut off from his people.
Trying to cheat HaShem or do things by half-terms will bring cursing, not blessing
Leviticus 19:9 When you harvest the ripe crops produced in your land, don’t harvest all the way to corners of your field, and don’t gather the ears of grain left by the harvesters.
Chazal points out that the size of the corners of the field are never determined. The LORD loves a cheerful giver and the individual is called to give what they can joyfully.
Leviticus 19:10 Likewise, don’t gather the grapes left on the vine or fallen on the ground after harvest; leave them for the poor and the foreigner; I am HaShem your G-d.
What a beautiful, loving set of Laws from a compassionate and loving King. The dignity of the poor is maintained because they can work to gain from these sources of plenty. The blessing comes from HaShem, but they must work to bring it into their own hands. Man doesn’t just need sustenance to live, we need purpose and duty. HaShem preserves that while humbling the landed farmer who must acknowledge that he only has what he has thanks to the Most High and that he should never forget that if things were different, he could be working for gleanings too, instead of having his lot to work.
Leviticus 19:11 Do not steal from, defraud or lie to each other.
There is a greater power beyond us and we are at His mercy. If we have needs, we should beseech Him.
Leviticus 19:12 Do not swear by my name falsely, which would be profaning the name of your G-d; I am HaShem.
We must be careful to honor HaShem in our speech as well as our actions.
Leviticus 19:13 Do not oppress or rob your neighbor; specifically, you are not to keep back the wages of a hired worker all night until morning.
HaShem gives us all what we deserve for our work and has placed employers in a position over employees where they are responsible to give them their due, as they recieve it from Above.
Leviticus 19:14 Do not speak a curse against a deaf person or place an obstacle in the way of a blind person; rather, fear your G-d; I am HaShem.
Even when you can get away with disrespecting your brother or sister, our Heavenly Father will see it. Remember, there is an eye that sees and an ear that hears all you do.
Aliyah 2 – Leviticus 19:15-22
Leviticus 19:18 Don’t take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am HaShem.
Love your neighbor as yourself is not a new commandment. It is Torah. Take not that the Torah itself defines a neighbor as “any of your people” and so the idea that Messiah was bringing something new to the people of his day, does not hold up. He spoke only the words of the Father and exhorted the sinful among Israel to turn back to Torah.
Aliyah 3 – Leviticus 19:23-32
Leviticus 19:25 But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, so that it will produce even more for you; I am HaShem your G-d.
Why did HaShem command Israel to wait so long before enjoying the fruit of the trees? Notice that the more short term crops, such as vegetables are not given the same prohibition as these fruit trees. Does this have to do with Eden? Is it to make for better trees? Is there a deeper lesson here about self-restraint?
Aliyah 4 – Leviticus 19:33-37
Leviticus 19:34 Rather, treat the foreigner staying with you like the native-born among you — you are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am HaShem your G-d.
Even the foreigner is to be treated with kindness and respect. That is not how it was in Sodom. The Sodomites even criticized Lot on account of him being a foreigner.
Aliyah 5 – Leviticus 20:1-7
Leviticus 20:4-5 If the people of the land look the other way when that man sacrifices his child to Molekh and fail to put him to death, 5 then I will set myself against him, his family and everyone who follows him to go fornicating after Molekh, and cut them off from their people.
It isn’t enough to be against Idolatry, there must be a measure of accountability between citizens and neighbors. If you think about it like a toxin or sickness, the rationale for friends holding each other accountable to keep their society from eroding is clear.
Aliyah 6 – Leviticus 20:8-22
Leviticus 20:8 Observe my regulations, and obey them; I am HaShem, who sets you apart to be holy.
While “holiness” may be a state of being in some respects it is a status that can be accessed and maintained, like being in the ocean or being in good with your bills or your position in your community. These things don’t just happen, you have to actively engage to keep yourself balanced. Holiness is an active status we must work to keep going.
Aliyah 7 – Leviticus 20:23-27
Leviticus 20:23 Do not live by the regulations of the nation which I am expelling ahead of you; because they did all these things, which is why I detested them.
The sinful ways of the Canaanite Nations are called their “regulations.” It seems that culture, law, customs and practices are all muddled together in Heaven’s view. What people do in all aspects of their lives is an affirmation and declaration of their beliefs. He is bringing in Israel to the Land to cleanse it and fill it with people who have godly, good “regulations” as opposed to the wickedness of the Canaanites.
Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.
- If the Almighty is Bound by His Word, Shouldn’t You be?
- Was Man Meant to Live Forever?
- Does the Bible Promote Spying on Neighbors?
That concludes my journey through Kedoshim for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.