To be holy as God is holy — that is what this week’s Torah portion, the double portion of Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, offers us. It presents the ritual and ethical laws that, if followed, will make the Jewish people a “holy” people.
Biblical scholars use the term “The Holiness Code” to describe the section of Leviticus which begins in this week’s Torah portion at chapter 17 and continues through the end of chapter 26. By no means a completely unified and ordered code, we often need to work hard to understand how these instructions, ostensibly directed to the ancient biblical Israelites, have relevancy for us still today. Yet, the ethical commandments contained in the Holiness Code, such as honoring our mother and father, not insulting the deaf, or placing a stumbling block before the blind and loving our neighbor as ourself, these are readily understood and followed.
Admittedly the journey to holiness can be a difficult one, but some steps are easier than others. A famous Chinese proverb offers this advice: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This week, may we each find the steps we need to start, or keep us moving forward, on the journey to holiness.