This week we read two Torah portion, Acharei and Kedoshim. At the very beginning of Kedoshim, there are three commandments: 1) “You shall be holy”; 2) “Every person shall fear his mother and his father”; and 3) “You shall keep My Sabbaths.” The fact that these three mitzvot (commandments) follow one another is significant and indicates that they are interrelated.
The term “holy” in this instance means separation, as it says at the end of our Torah portion, “You shall be holy to Me, for [I, G-d, am holy, and] I have separated you from the nations….” The Jewish people must be separate from the nations of the world. And they must be separate specifically in those areas in which we are seemingly similar, such as eating, drinking, conducting business and so forth.
The ultimate purpose of a Jew’s holiness and spirituality, though, is not egocentric – to be holy just for himself. Rather, as the Torah says of our ancestor Abraham, “in order that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of G-d…” So, one of the reasons for our remaining separate from the other nations is to be able to guide our children to walk in the ways of our ancestors. And this is why the mitzva to be holy is followed by “every person shall fear his mother and his father” – which alludes to the obligation of Jewish education.
Parents are the first educators. The mother and father must instil in their children the feeling that they are different from the rest of the world, that they are part of a holy nation.
The sequence in that verse is “his mother and his father,” mentioning first the mother. For the mother is the foundation of the house, and the major part of the actual education is in her hands.
How does a person imbue his children, and himself, with the consciousness of being a holy nation? This is brought out by the third commandment, “You shall keep My Sabbaths.”
The Sabbath is a sign between the Alm-ghty and Israel. It signifies belief in the creation of the universe. It strengthens and reinforces the certainty that the Alm-ghty is the Creator of the universe and continuously sustains and conducts it.
Shabbat was given only to the Jewish people, and not to the nations of the world. Observing Shabbat thus means to keep and guard the sign and covenant between Israel and G-d. This is done by strengthening our faith in the fact that Jews are not subject to the forces of nature but are under the specific and individual providence of G-d.
This, in turn, will bring us full circle. It will reinforce in ourselves and our children the mitzva of “You shall be holy,” to the point where our everyday activities will be infused with holiness. Moshiach NOW!!!