Kedoshim: How to be holy

“Be Holy!” is the stark command that introduces the parashah of Kedoshim. But the Torah leaves unanswered the question of how precisely we are to achieve this noble objective. For some Rabbinic commentators, “holiness” is found in observing the commandments that precede this section – the requirements of sexual morality and integrity. For others the answer is to keep the mitzvot that follow in the text – a collection of instructions that cover every aspect of our lives and interactions, both “ritual” and interpersonal. But for Nachmanides, the great scholar from thirteenth century Spain and Israel, the command to “be holy” refers to neither what was written before or after. Indeed, it relat

Tazria-Metzora: Existence and Torah

At the start of the parasha of Tazria, Rashi comments that this sedra contains the laws of tumah and taharah (“impurity and purity”) as they apply to people, whereas last week’s seder covered tumah and taharah regarding animals. This, he says (quoting Rav Simlai in the Midrash) parallels the details of creation, in which the origin of the animals is presented in the opening chapter of Bereishit before the creation of humankind. The Maharal ofPrague questions this comparison. In the case of creation, the Talmud makes clear that Adam and Eve were created after the animals in order so that they if they should feel proud, they could be reminded that even a gnat was created before them. No such m