Parashat Kedoshim / פרשת קדשים

Crop of Gleaners in Front of Old Wheels by Léon Augustin Lhermitte


Parashat Kedoshim is the 30th weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the seventh reading of Vayikra (Leviticus). Kedoshim (קְדֹשִׁים) is the Hebrew words for holy ones, taken from the 14th words of this parashah, where HaShem tells Moshe (Moses) to tell the people of Yisrael (Israel) that they shall be holy. Parashah Kedoshim, which contains many instructions pertaining to holiness, begins and ends with this command.

The first instructions about holiness discussed in this parashah pertains to the peace offering, and how one must offer it in order to be accepted. From there, Moshe records a number of instructions pertaining to loving one’s neighbour, by making provision for the poor and for the sojourner, by not stealing nor dealing falsely, by not oppressing one’s neighbour, by doing no injustice in court, and by being truthful with one’s neighbour, bearing no grudge, and forsaking wrath.

The parashah continues with a number of statutes pertaining to holiness, including prohibitions against letting cattle breed with different kinds, sowing a field with two kinds of seed, and wearing a garment of mixed materials, keeping one thing separate from another even as the people of Yisrael are set apart from the nations. After that an example is given about making a distinction between one type of crime of sexual immorality and another. Following this, a schedule is given for the fruit of new fruit trees, which is not to be eaten until the fifth year, followed by the reiteration of the prohibition against eating blood, as well as prohibitions against interpreting omens, telling fortunes, certain ways of cutting hair and beard, and cutting the skin of one’s body for the dead and getting tattoos.

The people of Yisrael are further prohibited from giving their daughters into prostitution, but we are to keep the Shabbatot (Sabbaths) of HaShem and revere His Sanctuary. We are not to consult mediums or necromancers, but we must honour the aged and fear HaShem. We are not to mistreat strangers sojourning among us, but we are to treat them as native born and love even the stranger as ourselves, doing as the Egyptians should have done with us. We are not to do any wrong in judgement, in measures of length or weight or quantity, but we are to deal justly.

Native born and sojourner alike are prohibited from sacrificing their children to Molekh. Those who do are to be put to death, but HaShem will set His face against such people and their clans, them and all who follow them in whoring after Molekh, if they are not justly put to death by the people of the land. Similar prohibitions are given against consulting mediums and necromancers, and the death penalty is prescribed for such activities as well, and also for a variety of sexual activities that are prohibited in the Kingdom, from adultery, to sexual relations with animals, people of the same sex, for example. The parashah closes with a variety of prohibitions against incestuous family relations, and the penalty for such relations, followed by the command to be holy.

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Torah Portion: Leviticus 19:1 – 20:27

1st Aliyah: Leviticus 19:1-14 (14 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Leviticus 19:15-22 (8 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Leviticus 19:23-32 (10 verses)
4th Aliyah: Leviticus 19:33-37 (5 verses)
5th Aliyah: Leviticus 20:1-7 (7 verses)
6th Aliyah: Leviticus 20:8-22 (15 verses)
7th Aliyah: Leviticus 20:23-27 (5 verses)
Maftir: Leviticus 20:25-27 (3 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):

Traditional Ashkenazi Haftarah: Amos 9:7 – 9:15
Traditional Sephardic Haftarah: Ezekiel 20:2 – 20:20

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