Can You Become Kadosh?

Parshat Acharei Mot – Kedoshim 5772
An underlying theme of Sefer Vayikra / Leviticus is kedusha.

Let’s look at some of the verses that touch on this point (translation from Judaica Press).

In Leviticus Chapter 11 (Parshat Shemini) these verses occur immediately after the Torah teaches which animals may and may not be eaten:

Leviticus Chapter 11

44 For I am the Lord your God, and you shall sanctify yourselves [hitkadishtem] and be holy [kedoshim], because I am holy [kadosh], and you shall not defile yourselves through any creeping creature that crawls on the ground.
45 For I am the Lord Who has brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God. Thus, you shall be holy [kedoshim], because I am holy [kadosh].

Then in Leviticus Chapter 19 (beginning of Parshat Kedoshim) immediately after the Torah teaches about forbidden sexual relationships we read:

Leviticus Chapter 19

2 Speak to the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy [kedoshim], for I, the Lord, your God, am holy [kadosh].

At the end of Leviticus Chapter 20 (end of Parshat Kedoshim) is a summary of the concept of kedusha:

Leviticus Chapter 20

25 And you shall distinguish between clean animals and unclean ones, and between unclean birds and clean ones; thus you shall not make yourselves disgusting through [unclean] animals and birds and any [creature] which crawls on the earth, that I have distinguished for you to render unclean.
26 And you shall be holy [kedoshim] to Me, for I, the Lord, am holy [kadosh], and I have distinguished you from the peoples, to be Mine.

Kedusha Defined

English translations usually render the words kadosh and kedusha as holy or sanctified, depending upon the context.

But, look closely at Leviticus 20:25. It seems clear from that verse that we should also understand the concept of kadosh as being separated or set aside.

For example, when a man and woman become engaged, that act is called kidushin. Before the kidushin, the woman was free to marry any man, but now she is set aside for just that one man.

We begin Shabbat and Yom Tov by reciting kiddush. By this act we signify that these special days are separate and distinct from the ordinary weekdays.

Also we have the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This is the one place on Earth that is most especially set aside for worshiping God.

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My Questions

1. In the verses quoted above, the kedusha of the Jewish people was linked to the fact that God is kadosh. What are we supposed to learn from the fact of God being kadosh?

2. Can any one become kadosh?

3. Does a person become kadosh based on doing certain acts or by refraining from certain acts?

4. For a person who wants to increase their level of kedusha, what’s the best way to proceed?

Your Turn

Please share your questions and suggested answers in the comments.

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Picture credit Flickr.

A Note on the Translations
The translation of Bible verses is based on the Judaica Press Tanach.
The translation of Gemara is based on the Soncino Talmud.
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