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   by Jacob Solomon

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For I am G-d - you are to sanctify yourselves and become holy for I (G-d) am holy, and you shall not defile yourself though any creature that crawls on the Earth (11:44).

The content of the first half of Torat Kohanim (Leviticus) includes the korbanot (offerings), and tum'a and tahara - the laws of purity. The emphasis is on the Kohanim, who formed the priestly line of Aaron and his descendants. This is because they were the guardians of the communal and individual observance of tum'a and tahara.

The laws of kashrut - what may and what may not be eaten, are right in the middle of the Torah's detailed exposition of tum'a and tahara. Many reasons have been suggested for the laws of kashrut, but the Torah explicitly frames them in one way only. It belongs to "You should sanctify yourself and become holy, because I (G-d) am holy". No other reasons are given.

Our neighbourhood rabbi, Rav Y. Zemel, explained the connection between "You should sanctify yourself and become holy" and "because I (G-d) am holy" in the following way. The holiness achieved through kashrut observance brings a person closer to G-d. Holiness spiritually combines with holiness.

In addition, it may be suggested that holiness also works in the other direction. "The candle of G-d is the spirit of Man" (Proverbs 20:27). The Torah explains that by making oneself holy in abstaining from forbidden foods, the spirit of G-d burns more powerfully: "You shall be become holy…because I (G-d) am holy". The Source of holiness will gently light - as a candle - the soul of he or she that observes holiness by eating only that which is permitted by the Creator.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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