Achrei Mot-Kedoshim, Leviticus 16:1-20:27, Parshat Hashavua for Shabbat, April 29, 2023

In our society we seem to admire celebrity, wealth, power, no matter how it is acquired, whether through cheating, exploiting or abusing others, or causing profound damage to our society, body politic, or the environment. All that matters is success; that is the only virtue. But as Lilly Tomlin said, “even if you win the rat race you’re still a rat.” The second part of this week’s Torah portion, Kedoshim, offers a different idea of success and virtue, “You shall be holy, for I, your God יהוה, am holy.” What follows is a list of behaviors that make us holy. These include, respect for parents (and elders in general), not worshiping false gods (like wealth, power, and success), regularly setting aside some of our wealth for those in need, honesty in business, and fair treatment for anyone regardless of their social or economic status. These are the virtues that Jewish religion and God wants us to admire and live by. Imagine what our country would be like if we actually did.