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Shabbat Kedoshim

05/06/2022 11:58:55 AM


Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Last week, we read parshat Acharei Mot; this week, kedoshim. Often the two parshiot are conjoined, though not this year. There’s an old rabbinical saw that goes “acharei mos -> kedoshim” – i.e., after someone dies, their flaws are forgotten and they become solely holy. The American poet Carl Sanburg (1878-1967) expressed a similar idea at the end of his 6 vol. biography of Abraham Lincoln: “A tree is best measured when it is down - and so it is with people” (ch. 52).  This erev Shabbat, I think of a more somber interpretation. From Yom HaShoah to Yom HaZikaron to the brutal terrorist attack in Elad on Yom Haatzmaut that took the lives of Yonatan Havakuk, Boaz Gol and Oren Ben Yiftah Hy”d, all young fathers who between them leave behind their wives and 16 children (and which has left Chaim ben Sarah and Yishai ben Ilana fighting for their lives in the hospital – may they have a refuah shememah). In all of these cases of lost lives of Jews who were murdered because they are Jewish, or who died defending others who are targeted because they are Jewish – in all these cases, acharei mot - after their deaths we think of them as kedoshim. Their holiness, however, depends on our own aspirations for holiness. Not the holiness of a martyr’s death, but the holiness of authentic Jewish living. “Kedoshim tehiyu - Be holy!” charges the opening of our parashah. May we achieve this designation in how we choose to live.

With a sad heart, Shabbat Shalom, Rav Benjie

Tue, September 27 2022 2 Tishrei 5783