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June 22, 2024

Kedoshim (Holy) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion


Leviticus, 16:1-18:30—19:1-20:27

This Week’s Torah Portion | May 05 – May 11, 2024 – 27 Nisan – 3 Lyyar, 5784

In A Nutshell

The portions, Aharei Mot (After the Death) and Kedoshim (Holy), are connected. In the portion, Aharei Mot, following the death of Aaron’s two sons—Nadav and Avihu—the Creator details before Moses various rules concerning the way Aaron may approach the Holy in the tabernacle: it requires offering several sacrifices. Aaron must choose between two male goats, one to be sacrificed as a sin offering, and the other to be sent to the desert as a “goat to Azazel.”

The portion also details the prohibition to slaughter for food without bringing an offering to the tent of meeting. The Creator instructs Moses to command the people not to follow the ways of the Egyptians and the Canaanites, and not to obey their rules. At the end of the portion the Creator tells the people of Israel not to be defiled by all the impurities that the nations that dwelled in the land of Canaan before them did because if they did, the land would repel them.

In the portion, Kedoshim (holy), the Creator says to the children of Israel through Moses: “You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus, 19:2).

The portion details many different commandments between man and God, between man and man, and some that concern offering sacrifices. The portion also deals with fearing Mother and Father, observing the Sabbath, and the prohibition on idol worship. Some of the Mitzvot (commandments) relate to the land of Israel, the land of Canaan, the tithing, fruits of the tree, idol worship, and other laws.

The portion ends with a complete prohibition on incest and adultery, which are punishable by death. The Creator commands the children of Israel to keep the laws when they arrive at the land of Israel, and refrain from what they did while in Egypt. They must separate between pure and impure beasts, and, likewise, the Creator will separate between Israel and the rest of the nations. This is how they will be Holy to Him.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

Most people believe that the Torah speaks of this world, that it is full of physical actions and descriptions of animals, people, and objects, rules of social conduct, what is permitted, and what is forbidden. We either forget, or have never known that this world is but a replication of the spiritual world.

In truth, the stories in the Torah narrate only the spiritual world. We perceive the spiritual forces as a replication from spirituality. They are depicted in us according to our degree and our perception of the world. This is why it seems to us that we are seeing an entire world with all its details, that the Torah speaks of how we should behave with every detail—favorably or unfavorably—according to the Creator’s will.

The Creator wants to do good to His creations, to raise them to His level. “Return O Israel to the Lord your God” (Hosea, 14:2) means causing them to be like Him—loving and giving. The rule, “love your neighbor as yourself,”[1] is the inclusive rule of the Torah. It is the rule by which we shift from loving others to loving the Creator at the end of our correction.

We need to scrutinize the connection between slaughtering beasts or avoiding certain actions, committing others actions, and Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator, love of God, love of Israel, or love of the whole world. The Torah does not speak of any other corrections but the correction of the heart, as it was written that it was given to men of heart.[2] Hence, all the Mitzvot that are written in the Torah—as Iben Ezra writes in his commentary on the Torah—were made only to correct the heart, meaning man’s desire, inclination. The Torah was intended to bring us into love because initially, our nature is the opposite of love: it includes the evil inclination, envy, lust, and pursuit of honor, as we clearly see in our world.

This is why the Torah is telling us how to correct ourselves, our desires, according to our perception of this world. We cannot correct our ego instantaneously from aiming to receive for myself to aiming to bestow upon others. The numerous corrections we perform on our desires are gradual.

The two portions, Aharei Mot (After the Death) and Kedoshim (Holy), are adjacent and connected because they contain two major corrections. The first is bestowing in order to bestow, as it is written, “That which you hate, do not do to your friend”[3] (Masechet Shabbat, 31a). The second is “love your neighbor as yourself,”[1] which is a more advanced correction.

The first correction is merely avoiding harming others. When we constantly seek our own benefit, the result is always at the expense of others. The first correction was given to a proselyte, to an egoist who wants to be corrected, to rise from the ego, from the “nations of the world within, to the degree of Israel, to a state of “That which you hate, do not do to your friend.”[4] By that we restrict our ego and avoid hurting others. The next stage is the more advanced degree, “love your neighbor as yourself,”[1] which we must achieve.

Following those Mitzvot and corrections, we perceive the world that is depicted in each of the 613 desires that comprise us. When we correct those desires from egoism to wanting to give and to love, we see an opposite world, as it is written, I have seen an upside down world.”[5] We come to see a higher world running by new, completely different rules—of giving, love, and connection. Today not only does the world appear to us as integrally connected, we ourselves are becoming integral, and we relate to the world this way: we include everyone and see everything as one whole.

This is the reason why the two portions are conjoined. The correction in the portion, Aharei Mot, is the correction of emerging from the evil inclination. In the next correction, the one in the portion, Kedoshim, we transcend the evil inclination and raise the desires we have corrected to the next degree. First we seemingly “brush them off,” and now we raise them toward giving, love, to the place of the holy ones.

First we rise above our egoistic will to receive and shift sins into mistakes, and mistakes to Mitzvot (commandments/good deeds/corrections). Next, we correct the sins (that we previously turned into mistakes) into Mitzvot. Now everything works for love.

By treating everyone with absolute love, we reach the love of God. This is the final result where we obtain equivalence with Him, as it is written, “Return O Israel to the Lord your God” (Hosea, 14:2). In other words, we obtain Dvekut (adhesion) with Him. This is the purpose of the corrections, the purpose of creation, of the path we must go through.

Everything begins with the shattering, with feeling the bad, the recognition of evil. This is what Nadav and Avihu did in the previous portion, and this is why the portion is called Aharei Mot (After the Death). All our actions in corrections are built consecutively.

We must not forget that the real corrections are only in our desires. We correct our hearts, and our world is the inanimate world, an imaginary world in which we play like kids in the sand.

Today the world is in a new era, facing a global crisis that must be resolved. This is our “exercise.” If we approach it correctly, as the Torah tells us, we will receive the Torah—its internality—as the Torah of truth, and we will know how to achieve redemption from exile out of the sins we are in. Then we will reach the stage of Aharei Mot, of Kedoshim (holy).

The portion tells of the people of Israel entering the land of Israel. If they follow the laws of the Canaanites, the land will vomit them out. This portion always comes near the Day of Independence, which is odd because we have returned to our land after 2,000 years but it still does not seem as though we are keeping the spiritual laws.

It also does not seem like we have a grip on the land of Israel. We are still “under a question mark” in this land. Perhaps we do not like to admit it, but we are. We are aware that we are still dependent on our neighbors and on the rest of the world. If the whole world should press us now we will have no choice but to do as they say.

The words, “the whole world,” refer to the Creator, the upper force that sets up the conditions by which we will truly repent and begin to actually be the people of Israel in the land of Israel. Ysrael (Israel) comes from Yashar El (straight to God), meaning to resemble the force of bestowal and love, the upper force, which demands of us to be in a state of “love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we achieve brotherly love according to the laws of Arvut (mutual guarantee), the laws of Kabbalah, of integral education—as we circulate them—we will truly gain a grip on the land. Eretz (land) comes from the word Ratzon (desire); it is our innermost desire, the one that determines precisely how attached we are to the ground, to the land of Israel.

It all depends on us. We were given a small portion, and if we cannot live according to this part, a part of us will be cut off, then another part, and then another. It is not because the neighboring countries or the UN have decided anything; it is because we ourselves do not fit in the land of Israel.

Actually, the threat is already there because “the heart of ministers and kings is in the hand of the Lord” (Proverbs, 25:1). If we are in accord with the land of Israel, we will receive it and no one will rule over us. It all depends on our accord with the land of Israel. If we aim our desires toward holiness, as in “You will be holy for I am holy” (Leviticus, 19:2)—holiness means bestowal and love—then there is no doubt we will receive it in this world, too, the whole of the land of Israel. No one will be able to say anything; everyone will agree that we are the ones who truly have to be here in the land. The nation that will live here will be a different one, “The people of Israel,” living according to “love your neighbor as yourself,” as it was prior to the ruin.

Questions and Answers

There is a feeling that although we are officially in our land, we are still in exile.

Yes, this is why it is written that we are a gathering of exiles.

What does it mean that the land vomits the desires out?

If we do not match ourselves with the will of God, with the land of Israel, the land ejects us, rejects us. It is lack of equivalence of form. Equivalence of form is the general law of nature, which determines how suitable and connected we are to the land, to the ground. Equivalence of form exists to the extent that we connect to each other, to the extent that we achieve Arvut between us, unity, brotherly love. If we do not, we do not belong in the land of Israel.

Does this refer to today’s land of Israel? After all, it says “desires,” not people. So is this about desires or about the land?

We are still not in the real land of Israel because we and our desires are still corrupted and negative, even the energy between us. Hence, we do not allow the land of Israel to be fair (beautiful). We still do not feel that our land is blooming.

From The Zohar: Hybrid and Mixing

When the Creator created the world He set up each thing, each one in its side, either to the right or to the left, and appointed higher forces over them. And there is not even a tiny blade of grass in the land on which there is no higher force above in the upper worlds. All that they do in each one, and everything that each one does is all by prevailing of the upper force that is appointed over it above.

Zohar for AllKedoshim (Holy), item 108

We are far behind, but we are now required to be in the degree of the “land of Israel.” What can be changed here? How can we reach the degree of the land of Israel?

If we begin to examine our qualities in relation to others we will see how immersed we are in Egypt, how our ego, our inner Pharaoh, dominates us. We disparage everyone out of envy, lust, and pursuit of honor, and we relate to others only in order to use them. This is exile. It is not a geographical point, but an inner state. We will finally want to emerge from it by connecting to people and beginning to think, “When will I reach my correction, the state of ‘love your neighbor as yourself?’”

When we achieve it, we will begin to advance toward that correction. Then we will see how incapable of it we are. This is the meaning of the land of Israel not belonging to us. We cannot be together in brotherly love, so we must demand of the Creator to correct it. We must shout, pray, show Him our need. Actually, everything we have been through happened so we would perceive our dependence on Him, so we would feel that all corrections depend only on Him.

We are going through all of it on purpose; the Creator made it this way. Otherwise we would forget about Him. When a person turns to the Creator for correction, He comes and “settles in” with the quality of bestowal and love between us. We progress and discover Him between us, meaning discover the upper world.

This is the upper system in the spiritual world between us, to which we arrive upon our correction. And because our desire was corrected due to the presence of the Creator, it is now in the land of Israel, a state of redemption called the “land of Israel.” Previously, it was in Babylon, the land of Canaan, Egypt, and a desert. The land of Israel is a state of connection between us, which the Creator fills.

We often speak of a spiritual connection. Are the things we talked about spiritual things, including the land of Israel?

Everything is within us and between us.

Why do we hear that the Creator does not judge the children of Israel on anything regarding this world, yet they are punished in this world?

They are judged because we must return to the spiritual degree we held prior to the ruin of the Temple.

Even though we always thought that the Creator does not “keep score” with us in this world?

The ARI begins his book, Tree of Life, explaining that “The upper, simple light fills the whole reality.” Likewise, it is written, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi, 3:6), and “He has given a law, and it shall not be breached” (Psalms, 148:6). There is a constant state by which we should measure ourselves. It is an absolute state love and tight connection among everyone, not just among the children of Israel, as it was before, but throughout the world. We are the “chosen people,” the ones who must be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus, 19:6). First we must achieve that state, then we must set an example to the rest of the world.

From The Zohar: Ah, land of the buzzing of wings

“Ah, land of the buzzing of wings.” When the Creator created the world and wished to reveal the depths out of the hidden and light out of darkness, they mingled in one another. Because of it, Light came out of darkness, and the deep came out and appeared out of the hidden; one came out of the other. And from the good, out came bad; from mercy, out came judgment, and all was included in one another.

Zohar for AllKedoshim (Holy), item 7

Following the shattering everything became mixed. Now after the ruin we must distinguish between good and bad, light and darkness, and thus build ourselves. Our view of the world and the relations between us all result from the scrutiny. The ruin is in our favor because by correcting it we build ourselves, just as a children build with LEGO bricks and thus learn.

What is the degree of Kadosh or Kedoshim (holy)?

Holy” is the highest degree, as it is written (Leviticus, 19:2), “You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy.” This means that a person transcends the ego and avoids using it, unless it is for others’ benefit. Bestowing in order to bestow is the first stage. The second stage is receiving in order to bestow. The first stage is as Hillel says, “That which you hate, do not do to your friend” (Masechet Shabbat, 31a). That is, do not harm others. This is the beginning of corrections. But once you have achieved it you can accept the others’ desires and begin to serve them, fulfill them. This is called “love.”

That is, Aharei Mot is a precondition for Kedoshim?

Certainly, these are two stages of the correction of Galgalta and Eynaim of the soul, and the correction of the AHP of the soul. There are two kinds of Kelim in which there are positive or negative Mitzvot (commandments to do something or avoid doing something) from the Torah. Each Mitzva is an act of rising above the ego, of benefiting others, or at least not harming others. These are all the 613 Mitzvot—248, and 365.

Is there a special connection between the Creator and the people of Israel? Why are they holy? Is it just because He is holy?

Man needs the upper light in order to rise above the ego and bestow upon others. We have no force of bestowal of our own because we consist purely of “reception-only” substance. We can give only if the upper light shines on us, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice” because “the light in it reforms.”[6] Thus, the Creator illuminates that quality for us, raises us above the ego, and all we need is to want it. The actions come from above, which is why they are called “the work of God,” since the Creator is the one who does the work. However, He works only on our invitation.

[1] Jerusalem Talmud, Seder Nashim, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b.
[2] Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, p 141.
[3] Jerusalem Talmud, Seder Nashim, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b.
[4] Masechet Shabbat, 31a.
[5] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Nezikin, Baba Batra, 10b; Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Pesachim, 50a.
[6] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Kidushin, 30b; Midrash Rabah, Eicha, “Introduction,” Paragraph 2.

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