This week, the parasha is named Kedoshim, meaning “holy,” as the opening sentence states: “God spoke to Moses saying, ‘Speak to the entire assembly of the children of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I am holy, the Lord your God.’”
Among the many things that God instructs us to do in order to be holy are some we have seen before in the Ten Commandments, though in different language, such as not worshipping idols, fearing one’s mother and father, keeping Sabbaths, not stealing, and not lying.
Other mitzvot (commandments) include not gossiping, not hating other people, and loving other people.
One sentence that sticks with me is “You shall not curse the deaf, and you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:14) This mitzvah seems pretty clear – if there are things people have difficulty with because they are different than we are, we must not resent them or make things even more difficult for them.
When I read this sentence’s ending words, “I am the Lord” it directed me back to the opening sentence of the parasha where God reminded us we received this mitzvah from the Lord, “Speak to the entire assembly of the children of Israel and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy, the Lord your God.’” Notice that God’s commandment to Moses is to speak to the “entire assembly of the children of Israel”. God wanted Moses to include everyone. Also, we received these mitzvot from God, Who created everyone.
Reading these sentences together reminds me that we are to treat everyone equally. We should accept people who are different from us in some way, and work to include them, just as God’s mitzvot are for “the entire assembly of the children of Israel.”
During the next week, you may encounter people who are different from you. They may look different, or be much older or younger, or have different abilities than you do. If they can do something you cannot do but would like to learn, ask them to teach you. If you can do something they cannot, teach them. If they don’t have the physical ability to do something, look for a new way to do that thing that allows them to participate.
These actions will help make us holy, as God has commanded us to be.