Let’s Talk About Holiness

Between Us

This week’s parasha is Shemini, in the Book of Leviticus. There are two main themes which, at first, do not appear to be connected. We first read how the priest, Aaron, and his sons become purified to do God’s work, and then learn about the laws of kashrut and which animals we are permitted – and not permitted – to eat.

Commentators, however, point out that the sections are indeed connected by the Jewish value of holiness (kedushah). Referring to Aaron and his sons, we read that they must learn to “make a distinction between the holy and the unholy and between the clean and the unclean.” In the section regarding kashrut, we are once again instructed to distinguish “between the unclean and the clean, between the animals that may be eaten and the animals that may not be eaten.

The Hebrew word for “to make a distinction” is lehavdil – from the same root as the word Havdalah – the Saturday night ceremony which separates Shabbat from the rest of the week. We make distinctions and decisions every day between good and evil, right and wrong, clean and unclean. In doing so, we strive to find and achieve holiness in our daily lives.


Ways to Make it Yours

Commemorate Yom Ha’Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) in Northern Virginia on Sunday, April 19.

Check out the JCCGW Preschool and TK’s art exhibit, Kehillah: Creating Community – Interpreting the Concept of Home now through Monday, April 27.

Catch a of screening of Crossing the Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus at the JCCGW on Monday, April 20.

Join Mitzvah Mavens for the 3rd Annual Holocaust Survivors Luncheon on Sunday, May 3.

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