The observance of this week’s two Israeli holidays is made that much more important by this past weekend’s violence between Israel and Gaza. Wednesday is Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s national day of remembrance for its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. It is immediately followed on Thursday by Yom Ha’atzmaut, the day on which we celebrate the establishment of the State of Israel. The juxtaposition of the two reminds us that even events to be celebrated often come at a price.
At a time when our Torah readings are drawn from Leviticus’ Holiness Code, we may want to examine how our own actions, as well as the actions of our leaders, can help us move in the direction of the sacred. In this week’s Torah portion, Kedoshim, the Israelites are to be holy, because God is holy. We, like all Israel, must strive for holiness through ethical and just action, both individually and communally. The reading of Kedoshim, halfway through our annual reading of Torah, is a good time to ask ourselves if how we lead our lives moves us closer or farther away from holiness.
Rabbi Sandra Bellush