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[Dvar Torah] Kedoshim

This week's parsha, Kedoshim, from the book of Vayikra / Leviticus, begins with the commandments about treating others fairly, kindly and equally with a phrase we all know: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The parsha then proceeds to provide guidelines about one's relationship with G-d, familial and social ethics, justice and equality, ritual and worship, and ethical conduct and separation in regard to agriculture and manufacturing.

How can we bring this commandment to life? The Rambam teaches us that "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart", which means more than simply avoiding visible hatred; it's about proactive and constructive communication. He instructs, "Do not hate your brother in our heart... but instead reprove him, saying, "Why did you do thus to me?" This approach turns love and friendship into an active pursuit of understanding and reconciliation, vital for healing in personal and communal conflicts.

Meanwhile Rashi emphasizes that holiness extends beyond rituals into everyday life: "You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your G-d, am holy.” He connects holiness with how we treat others, especially the vulnerable. This teaches us that our pursuit of holiness is inseparable from our ethical treatment of every individual.

In our modern world, where conflicts and wars often prevail, the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves can serve as a guiding principle for building bridges and fostering unity. It reminds us that despite our differences, we are bound together by our shared humanity. By extending love and compassion to others, we create spaces of acceptance, understanding, and healing.

Parashat Kedoshim calls us to embrace the values of love, empathy, and justice. As the war in Israel enters its seventh month, we must remember the ongoing struggles of soldiers and civilians alike. This conflict reminds us of the importance of applying the Torah's teachings, particularly the imperative to love our neighbor as ourselves. By striving for a world where every individual is treated with dignity and respect, we contribute to making our communities and the world a holier and more compassionate place.

Shabbat Shalom!

Annabelle, Grade 10