“You shall be Holy, for I, the Lord your God, am Holy.” Thus begins this week’s parashah, Kedoshim, the modern-day moral center of the Book of Leviticus. The series of teachings and commandments that follows this exhortation to holiness speak to the Jewish obligations not only to God but to our fellow human beings. It seems particularly poignant that we read this aspirational text during the same week we celebrate Yom Ha’atzma’ut, Israel’s independence. Israel endeavors to match Torah’s highest values with the realpolitik of national governance, sometimes struggling but always striving to make them a reality. May Israel’s next 71 years be filled with peace and tranquility for both her inhabitants and neighbors, and may what is today’s aspirational become tomorrow’s commonplace.
From the Declaration of the State: “THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
– Rabbi Aaron Meyer