Vol 12.12 - Kedoshim             Spanish French Audio  Video

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Meor Einayim


(5744) Blending of the two explanations of "Kedoshim":


  • Holy and completely separate (Kodesh uMuvdal)
  • Holiness in simple things

Connection between the Parshiot Acharei and Kedoshim


The Torah portions of Acharei and Kedoshim are uniquely related in terms of content. This is mirrored by the fact that in most years the two are read together.

Acharei begins by describing the service of the High Priest in the Holy of Holies during Yom Kippur — the coming together of the most sacred aspects of space (the Holy of Holies), the holiest moment in time (Yom Kippur), and the holiest person (the High Priest).

This holiness is also paramount in the portion of Kedoshim, beginning as it does with the verse,1 “You shall be holy, for I am holy,” and stating near the conclusion:2 “You shall be holy unto Me, for I, the L-rd, am holy.”

Moreover, the name of the portion itself, Kedoshim, means holy — separate from the mundane.

Indeed, a Jew’s sanctity can be so lofty that it bears some comparison with G‑d’s, as the verse states: “You shall… be holy, for I… am holy.”

But how is it possible for corporeal man to reach such heights? The verse addresses itself to this question when it states “for I, the L-rd your G‑d, am holy.” Since G‑d is holy, each and every Jew can and must be holy as well, for all Jews “are truly part of G‑d above.”3

The measure of sanctity which each and every Jew is capable of achieving may best be appreciated when one realizes that the sanctity we are told to aspire to in Kedoshim follows that previously achieved in Acharei. In that portion, the passing of Nadav and Avihu is described as the result of their souls’ extreme longing for G‑d. So great was their love that their bodies could no longer contain their souls, which literally expired.

The portion of Kedoshim informs every Jew that he is capable of even greater heights. For the pursuit of holiness is never-ending, one level always following another, the reason being that holiness emanates from G‑d, who is truly infinite — “for I am holy.”

Herein lies a lesson for each and every Jew: Even a Jew who has achieved a great measure of sanctity may not rest on his laurels; he must constantly strive to attain even greater holiness. Moreover, he must progress boldly, so that each elevation is infinitely higher than the preceding one.

The portions of Acharei and Kedoshim are generally read on the Sabbaths between Passover and Shavuos, i.e., during the days that are bound up with the Exodus, the receiving of the Torah on Shavuos being the culmination of that Exodus. What connection is there between these Torah portions and the Exodus?

According to the above, the connection is readily discernible: The Exodus was a leaving of physical and spiritual servitude in favor of physical and spiritual freedom. This involves a radical elevation. Man’s quest for holiness, expressed in these Torah portions, also entails this quest for radical elevation.


1.  1.Vayikra 19:2.
2.Ibid. 20:26.
3.Tanya , beginning of Ch. 2.


1. In the matter of the command of Kedoshim -“You shall be holy etc.” (קְדשִׁים תִּהְיוּ) - there are two explanations that are diametrical to each other:

1. Plainly, it refers to holiness, separation and diverse (קדוש מופרש ומובדל). And not just separation from the aspect of the world, but “You shall be holy” – a lofty holiness that has a similarity and connection to the holiness of G-d’s name. Therefore it states: “for I am holy” (כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי) - for this is the reason and the explanation for “You shall be holy”. It is an elevation, in elevation after elevation, so much so to the epitome of holiness which is above all aspects of creation and all Seder Hishtalshelut.

2. It follows the explanation of the Talmud regarding the verse that is similar to our case: “’You shall sanctify yourselves’ -this refers to washing the hands before the meal, Mayim Rishonim, and ‘and be holy’ refers to washing the hands after the meal, Mayim Acharonim”.

In other words, the holiness is in simple and physical things – such as eating and drinking - and even in this verse, the explanation of the reason for the command is because “I am holy”.

2. The explanation of this is:

The Parshiot “Acharei” and “Kedoshim” have within them (in their subject matter) a special connection.

(As is apparent even from that which, in most years, they are read together)

And it is understood that this connection has within it (like every aspect of Torah) a special lesson to each person in his Avodah. And particularly according to the well-known saying of the Alter Rebbe that each person of Yisroel “must live with the times." - meaning with the Torah portion of the week (and the specific section of the week's portion which is connected to that day).

This common factor in the two Parshiot is recognizable and understood plainly – that from this it is a proof that even the lesson in this is intended and fitting for each person.

The Parsha of “Acharei” begins with an aspect that is the epitome of holiness - in place and time and people, or in the common expression world, year and soul (עולם שנה נפש). This is the Avodah in the Holy of Holies, on the holy day (Yom Kippur) through the Kohen Gadol. And the aspect of holiness is also the primary subject of Parshat Kedoshim – which begins with “You shall be holy, for I . .am holy. And also (close to) its conclusion “And you shall be holy to Me, for I, the Lord, am holy” (and this is repeated in the middle of the Parsha “You shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I am the Lord, your God.” – so much so, that the entire Parsha – all of its aspect and verses – are called “Kedoshim”.

Since this holiness, that each one of Yisroel, is exhorted to be - is such a lofty level that has a relation and connection to the holiness of “for I am holy”, as aforementioned, the question may be asked:

How is it possible for a person to attain and rise to a supernal holiness which completely not comparable to earthly aspects?

Therefore the verse states:

“You shall be holy“(so much so that is a G-dly holiness) is manifested in “You shall be” (which is also an expression of a promise) - and this is because “for I am holy”.  In other words, since G-d is holiness, therefore each person of Bnei Yisroel who are an “actual portion of G-d from Above” are able and therefore required (“You shall be” – an expression of a command) to elevate themselves, with the epitome of elevation of holiness.

This lofty holiness of Parshat “Kedoshim” requires preparation and preface – and this is alluded to and learned in Parshat “Acharei”:

The Avodah of Yom Kippur on the holy day and in the place which is the Holy of Holies, from which the atonement and purification of Bnei Yisroel takes place so much so that it is “Before the Lord, you shall be purified” - meaning the attainment (מגיעים), with their purification, of a level that is “before (לפני) (meaning – above (למעלה) the name) of Havaya (G-d) – this gives them the power and ability in the Avodah of “You shall be holy“ that they should rise and attain unity (להתאחד) with the epitome of holiness of “for I am holy” (קדוש אני).

3. It has already been discussed that the name of the Parsha alludes to its subject matter. According to this, even the preparation and the ability to rise in holiness, for which the verse comes to teach us in the beginning of Parsha Acharei - is alluded to in its name – “Acharei Mot” (After the death):

The explanation is:

The simple meaning of “Acharei Mot” is as it sounds. It is related to all that is mentioned in the Parsha. In other words to the exhortation and commands that come after the death of Nadav and Avihu when “they drew near before G-d”.  The explanation of “drew near before G-d” is known in that it means that they attained an “exceedingly great closeness to G-d” - to a great love and yearning for G-d. So much so that that their bodies were not able to contain the great desire and yearning of the soul and they came to actual “expiry of the soul” (כלות הנפש).

And with all this the Torah comes with commands and warnings even “after (the death of the two sons of Aharon”). In other words, even the level of “drew near before G-d” is not the epitome of Avodah. But rather there is an “Acharei” (“after”) – one also must rise in Avodah, even after one has reached the great yearning of expiry of the soul. This means that there is no boundary in rising from one level to the next in Avodat HaShem. And when a person reaches even a lofty level, he is able and (therefore) required to rise even more so.

And this is the rule and the preface and preparation in Avodat HaKodesh that is hinted to in the name “Acharei – namely, that one must not suffice in the Avodah and rising in holiness, that (he has attained) presently - but that there must be “after/Acharei” this - an elevation over the previous elevation.

However, the Avodah itself and the power for this, to enable one to rise in an elevation that is unbounded is emphasized in Parshat “Kedoshim”.  The reason that “You shall be holy” (“Kedoshim Tehiyu”), (rising) until the unbounded holiness, as aforementioned is because “for I am holy” – My holiness is above your holiness”. For any rising of yours in holiness – nevertheless “My holiness is above” meaning that it is above any boundary and it is the level of G-d’s Essence (א׳׳ס ממש).

Therefore even in (the aspect of) “your holiness” (whose cause and reason is) “My holiness” – you are incumbent to rise, more and more.

4. And this is the lesson for each one of the sons and daughters of Yisroel:

One must not suffice that one has accomplished with his soul, and reached a lofty level in his Avodah in Avodat Hashem. But rather one must endeavor constantly to rise in the levels of holiness. And even if one were to say to himself, that he has already reached the level of “drew near before G-d” , and even if , truthfully, he has reached this, nevertheless one must know that now begins the Parsha of “Acharei” – that after his previous Avodah and level, one must have an Avodah of greater vigor and greater strength – which is the Avodah of “Kedoshim” - “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy” – to rise above and beyond in the elevations of holiness (בהררי קודש).

And moreover:

It is not just a rising in a manner of going from one level to the next – an orderly elevation and therefore one that is bounded.

For (in that manner) even though one rises to a higher level than previously, nevertheless since all the levels are in relation to each other, therefore even when one rises from elevation to elevation, even to a very high and lofty level - still he has not gone out completely from (his relation to) his first standing and level. And this is similar to the rungs of a ladder, or to the links of a chain – for it is still just one ladder or chain, where the top ring is connected to that which is below it. Therefore there is a connection and relation even to the lowest link and so to with the rungs of a ladder.

However, the command and lesson of “Kedoshim” - “You shall be holy”- is that the rising in holiness must be in a manner that is without boundary, both in the quantity of elevation and in the quality of the elevation. One must rise to such an elevation that is at the level of “Acharei” – completely after than the previous level. This means that the level that he attains is incomparable and has no comparison to the previous standing and condition.

5. According to the aforementioned, one can understand the essence of the connection between the Parshiot “Acharei” and “Kedoshim” to the aspect of going out of Egypt that (in most places) are read, on the Sabbath‘s that are between Pesach and Shavuot - in other words in the time that continues and is connected to the going out of Mitzrayim.

The aspect of Yetzias Mitzrayim represents the exodus and rising (as it states: ‘Who took you up from Egypt”) from one condition to a different condition that has no comparison between them – both in physicality (“from slavery to freedom”) - as well as in spirituality (“from darkness to great light”).

And as in known  “In every generation and on every day, one is obligated to see himself as if he went out  - today – from Mitzrayim“ (בכל דור ודור וכל יום ויום חייב אדם לראות עצמו כאילו הוא יצא היום ממצרים).

In other words, in his Avodah - today - he goes out of his level of yesterday, which is considered like “Egypt” and “boundary” compared to his ability today.

7. According to this there is a common thread between the two aforementioned explanations in “You shall be holy”:

1. It represents complete holiness and separateness, the unbounded going out and elevation, so much so that it reaches – “My holiness is above”.

2. It resembles the act of washing the hands before the meal, Mayim Rishonim, and the washing of the hands after the meal, Mayim Acharonim” which are because of the impurity and filth and the danger of the salt of Sodom (מלח סדומית). In other words to emphasize and show that the Avodah of “You shall be holy” is such a lofty level, as aforementioned, that it is applicable to each person of Bnei Yisroel , from one extreme to the other. Those that are holy and divested of any relation to this world, as well as to those that are still involved with it, in the simplest manner.

And this follows the lesson of the alter Rebbe with his saying: “Living with the time”:

When we read and learn the Parshiot “Acharei” and “Kedoshim”, there is within them a lesson for the life of each person of Yisroel –

·         To those that possess a lofty stature – that we do not say to them that their elevation in their Avodah is sufficient.

·         As well as to those that are very far from this level – that they should not become despondent for not being able to rise in holiness so much so that they remain at their lower level – but rather that they are also able to rise in elevation after elevation, even to a level that is incomparable and without bounds (לאין ערוך).

So much so that he can attain the level of “My holiness above – (which is) (above) your holiness”– like the well-known explanation in this

(Note: "My holiness that is Above – comes from your holiness – meaning from the power of your holiness in an awakening from below” - Meor Einayim)

And this is according to the explanation of “Know what is above you” that it means that all that transpires in the spiritual realm is all "from you," dependent on your conduct.

mSichas Shabbat Parshat Acharei Kedoshim 5731



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7zBlty6LmY  (Video )

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