Parshat Kedoshim Summary

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Parshat Kedoshim is the 7th parsha in Sefer Vayikra (also known as Leviticus).

This parsha is verses Leviticus 19:1 – 20:27, or a total of 64 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

Parshat Kedoshim is often combined with the previous parsha, Acharei.

Aliyah 1: Leviticus 19:1 – 19:14, 14 verses

This parsha begins with the command that we should be holy. The command for a Jew to be holy does not mean separating from other people and living as a hermit.

Here are some of the things we do to be holy:

  • revere your parents
  • keep the Sabbath
  • stay away from idols
  • eat offerings within the permitted time frame
  • leave portions of your harvest for the poor
  • do not steal
  • do not deny the truth
  • do not tell lies
  • do not swear falsely
  • do not cheat
  • do not rob
  • do not withhold wages
  • do not curse the deaf
  • do not put a stumbling block before the blind

Aliyah 2: Leviticus 19:15 – 19:22, 8 verses

Here are some more things we do to be holy:

  • do not pervert justice
  • do not favor the poor (in a court case)
  • do not honor the “great”
  • judge everyone with righteousness
  • do not spread gossip
  • do not be idle when a life is in danger
  • do not hate in your heart
  • reprove another person when necessary
  • do not take revenge
  • love your fellow as yourself
  • do not mate animals of different species
  • do not plant with mixed seeds
  • do not make a garment with mixed fibers*

* The “mixed fibers” in verse 19:19 means specifically a mixture of wool and linen.

Aliyah 3: Leviticus 19:23 – 19:32, 10 verses

We learn more about what it means to be holy:

  • the fruit of a tree is forbidden for the first 3 years after it is planted
  • the fruit of the 4th year is holy
  • the fruit of the 5th year is fully permitted
  • do not eat “over” the blood
  • do not practice sorcery
  • do not round the corners of your head
  • do not remove the edge of your beard
  • do not cut yourself as a sign of mourning for the dead
  • do not tattoo yourself
  • do not turn your daughter into a prostitute
  • observe and revere the Sabbath
  • do not pay attention to sorcery
  • stand before an old person
  • honor the sages
  • fear God

Aliyah 4: Leviticus 19:33 – 19:37, 5 verses

Treat a convert with the same dignity as any other Jew.

To conclude this list of some things we can do to be holy, the Torah requires us to have only proper scales and measures.

The chapter ends with this verse: You shall guard all of my decrees and all of my ordinances and do them; I am God.

Aliyah 5: Leviticus 20:1 – 20:7, 7 verses

parshat Kedoshim summary

In the previous parsha (Acharei, verse 18:21) there was one verse prohibiting participating in the worship of Molech. This involved a ceremony of passing a child through a fire.

A person who gives his offspring to Molech is to be put to death. The community must not ignore those who worship Molech. Those who ignore this sin will themselves be cut off from God.

Aliyah 6: Leviticus 20:8 – 20:22, 15 verses

Most of Leviticus Chapter 18 was a list of forbidden sexual relationships. In this reading the verses spell out the punishments for indulging in those forbidden relationships.

Aliyah 7: Leviticus 20:23 – 20:27, 5 verses

We are warned not to follow the traditions of the nations that inhabited the Land of Israel in the past.

We are required to make important distinctions between clean and unclean animals and birds. The person who refrains from eating forbidden animals keeps his soul pure.

Haftarah Summary

Ashkenaic tradition: Ezekiel 22:1 – 16

This was the haftarah for Parshat Acharei according to Sephardic tradtion.

The prophet Ezekiel upbraids the residents of Jerusalem for the many sins they are committing, many of which are mentioned in the parsha. He tells them that God is about to scatter them among the nations of the world. Only then will they come to recognize God.

Sephardic tradition: Ezekiel 20:2 – 20

The prophet reminds the Jewish people of the many times they rebelled against God. He considered destroying them, but refrained for the sake of His honor. We are still called upon to observe God’s decrees and observe the Sabbath.

Further Reading

Here’s another article about how we can be holy.

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