Kiruv 101

“…Speak to the entire congregation of Bnei Yisrael, and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I, Hashem your G-d, am holy’…” – Vayikra 19:2

דַּבֵּר אֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם קְדשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי ה’ אֱלֹקֵיכֶם – ויקרא יט, ב

Rashi notes that G-d instructed Moshe to teach this passage to “the entire congregation of Bnei Yisrael,” meaning, in an assembly of all the men, women, and children of Bnei Yisrael. The need for the publicity of this portion was, in Rashi’s words, “because most of the fundamental teachings of the Torah are dependent on it.” This means, that although it is not the only portion containing many mitzvos, Parshas Kedoshim is unique because most of the Torah’s teachings are “dependent on it;” they hinge on the principle of holiness taught in its opening words, “You shall be holy, for I, Hashem your G-d, am holy.”


Rashi’s words also teach us the most effective method of motivating others and ourselves toward the service of G-d. Historically, there has been a school of Jewish thought that focused on “shunning evil” (Tehilim 34:15), through heightened awareness of Judaism’s belief in Divine retribution for the transgression of the Torah etc. Another approach has been to highlight primarily the value of Torah study and the beauty of its observance, and to stress the Jew’s distinction and good fortune, having been granted the possibility of living a Torah life. (According to this second approach, the aversion of evil will follow automatically for the most part, if not entirely.)

The preference of the second approach is evident from the above words of Rashi. How did Moshe introduce “the fundamental teachings of the Torah” to the assembly of the entire Jewish people? By emphasizing that through the observance of the Torah, “You shall be holy, because I, Hashem your G-d, am holy.” Moshe conveyed to each of the men, women, and children assembled, that as a Jew, he or she has the potential for a level of holiness and sanctity comparable to the sanctity of G-d Himself! And as history has shown, it is this positive message that “most of the fundamental teachings of the Torah are dependent upon.”

—Sefer Hasichos 5748, vol. 2, pp. 433-434


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