This Week’s Torah Portion | April 30 – May 06, 2017 – 4 Lyar – 10 Lyar, 5777


Aharei Mot (After The Death)—Kedoshim (Holy) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

ACHAREI MOT/KEDOSHIM 

TORAH : LEVITICUS 16:1-20:27

PROPHETS : EZEKIEL 22:1-19

GOSPEL : JOHN 7:1-52/JOHN 7:53-10:21

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets. 

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures. 

The Parashah for this week April 30—May 6, 2017 is again a “double reading”:

I. Acharei Mot—“After the Death”

TORAH: Leviticus 16:1—18:30

  • HAFTARAH: Ezekiel 22:1-19

II. Kedoshim—“Holy Ones”

TORAH: Leviticus 19:1—20:27

HAFTARAH: Amos 9:7-15

  • ON weeks in which a “double readings” occurs, only the Haftarah of the second reading is generally used.

*Leviticus 16:21-22. “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness…The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” 

This portion begins with instructions for the most holy day of the year, Yom Kippur—“Day of Atonement.” A goat was sacrificed and its blood applied to the Mercy Seat as atonement for the sins of the people. In some English translations of Leviticus 16:15, this is referred to as the “goat of the sin offering.” The more literal rendering of the Hebrew would be “the sin goat” or “the goat of sin”—which is slain to cleanse the people and make them clean.

II Corinthians 5:21 reads of the Messiah Yeshua, “He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” While the blood of this goat made atonement for sin, a second “scapegoat” bore the sins of the people away into the desert. Psalm 103:12 tells us that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” The Hebrew expression for “scapegoat” Azazel has come today to be used as a common curse in Israel.

PLEASE PRAY: for revelation that Yeshua (Whose name means,“The LORD is Salvation”) is the “Lamb of God” who became a ‘curse’ for us, making atonement in His blood and bearing away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

*Leviticus 17:11. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”

The word translated “life” here is not chaim, the word normally used, but nephesh which is usually translated “soul” (See Genesis 2:7: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (“chaim”); and man became a living soul (“nephesh”).” We are not here suggesting that the “soul” of man’s being is centered in his blood—but the life-factor of his physical body is, as is that of animals. “Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4). Because death reigns in all human-kind (for all have sinned), God has chosen that this death be atoned for by life-blood which “sustains the soul” (vs 14:b). Nor was the blood, with its special value as life-force or atonement, to be treated carelessly or indiscriminately. Atonement required a mediator-priest, so blood wasn’t to be shed at home for that purpose by one’s self (vss. 1-6); nor was that which redeems the soul to be used as physical food to sustain the body (vss. 10 & 14—see also Genesis 9:4 and Acts 15:20).

*Leviticus 17:7. “They [i.e. “All the children of Israel”] shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot.”  

“Demons” here is not the usual sheddim—but instead, it is actually the same word translated “goats” in the observance of Yom Kippur in 16:8. Satan not only comes as an “angel of light”—but among the pagan peoples sought worship in the form of the same animal which would be used as a symbol to pay for and to bear away sin.

*Leviticus 17:13-14. “Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; for it is the life (“nephesh”) of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life (“nephesh”).” 

The practice of sh’chita—the slaying of an animal for food in accordance with certain stipulations which include bleeding it—is still practiced in Jewish (and some Islamic) communities today. Although historically considered humane, it is presently coming under fire in a number of countries, which contest this and in some cases have succeeded in forbidding it. It is troubling to see how in several western countries over the past four or five years both sh’chita and another Jewish religious tradition brit milah—the “covenant of circumcision” have been coming under increased criticism and in some cases legislation to be banned on the basis of alleged violation of “rights” (of the animal or the baby boy).

A little over a year ago Denmark banned Jewish ritual slaughter on the grounds of animals’ rights—this, while being not only one of a few NATO countries which continue to practice vivisection, but also a country which has legalized bestiality, a practice which of course has nothing to do with the rights of the animal (“Jewish groups excoriate Denmark over legalized bestiality”: JPOST.com, 6 April 2014 12:51 IST). Both the blessing for Israel of sh’chita and the forbidding of this abominable perversion are dealt with in this week’s Torah Portion (Leviticus 17:13; 18:23).        

*Leviticus 18:21. “And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am YHVH.”

The name molech is actually the singular present tense of the verb Limloch—“To Reign” (“king” is the noun form melech). As the name Baal is really the word for “lord-master-husband,” but taken by an evil demonic deity which presumed its right to be called such by those held under its deception, Molech was a demonic monarch which assumed the title “The One Who Reigns.” Sadly, Israel would eventually embrace this power (Jeremiah 32:35) and come under God’s severe judgment.

Because of a strong revulsion against this sin, Hebrew worship songs today, both amongst Orthodox Jews and most Messianics do not make use of this present-tense form of the verb “to reign” when referring to deity, substituting instead malach (He reigned) or yimloch (He will reign), melech (He is King).

*Leviticus 18:3,4. “According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am YHVH your God. You shall therefore guard My statutes and My judgments, which if an “adam” does, he shall live by them. I am YHVH.   

Leviticus 20:22. You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all my judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not spew you out.”

Between these verses are enumerated a wide array of practices related to idolatry, sexuality and occult activity which although prevalent in Egypt or Canaan, were forbidden to the Israelites. Whether or not it may have been to some degree permitted in earlier days, sexual relations (marriage) with near blood relatives was no longer allowed for Israel. Indeed, here there is clarification as to whom “nakedness” belongs, and this was not to be violated. Certain sexual acts are labeled “wickedness” (18:17), others “abomination” (18:22) or “perversion” (18:23). Israel was warned that indulgence in these practices had resulted in pollution of the very land itself, and the previous inhabitants being spat out of that land. Eventually (See the usual Haftarah portion from Ezekiel 22:1-16) indulgence in these would bring about the expulsion of Israel herself.

PLEASE PRAY: for conviction of sin and for repentance leading to revival in Israel. Many of the same abominations mentioned in this passage are prevalent in our Land today. God’s law regarding such behavior has not changed…nor the judgments He has ordained regarding those who embrace it. If we are to become rooted soundly in the land and remain, their practice must be seen as sin, confessed and put aside. 

*Levitucus 19:1-2. “YHWH spoke to Moshe, saying: ‘Speak to the entire community of the Children of Israel, and say to them: “Holy are you to be, for holy am I, YHWH your God!”’” (Everett Fox Trans.).

As Everett Fox points out in the commentary to his translation, “As the key chapter of this part of Leviticus, Chap. 19 is wide-ranging and rhetorically powerful. It extends holiness to virtually all areas of life—family, calendar, cult, business, civil and criminal law, social relations, and sexuality. Most (but not all) of the laws deal with what we would term ethics, that is, relations between people…As such, they have become an exemplar and a cornerstone, at least in idealized form, in Western thinking about these issues.”  

For Chapter 20, “We move now into laws dealing with some of the more serious offenses against God in the biblical view: idolatry (including worship of the “Molekh” and consulting spirits), insulting parents, adultery, and sexual crimes. These are distinguished from the previous chapter by the inclusion of punishments; their seriousness is indicated by their capital nature.” (Fox, Everett: The Five Books of Moses…©1995, Shocken Books, New York).

*Leviticus 19:3 (Fox Translation). “Each-man—his mother and his father you are to hold-in-awe, and my Sabbaths you are to keep: I am YHWH your God!” (Everett Fox Trans.).

The first specific directive in this chapter (regarding the initial call to holiness) combines the reverent respect for one’s parents with that of the first thing ever recorded as being “holy”—the Sabbath (“Then Elohim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it [i.e. made it holy, VaYekadesh], because in it He rested from all His work which Elohim had created and made.”—Genesis 2:3). The phrases “I am YHWH!” or “I am YHWH your God!” are used at least 15 times in this chapter. YHWH (The exact pronunciation is today uncertain, some scholars think Yehovah, others Ya’hweh) is different than all the other gods served by the inhabitants of the lands Israel would be entering. As He is different, so the life-styles of His followers must be different! He is YHWH. The very power of that NAME released with His directives would provide sufficient grace and authority for those who would be willing to obey.

*Leviticus 19:17-18. “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of Your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am YHVH.”

Yeshua would equate this command to “love one’s neighbor as one’s self” with the First Commandment, to “Love YHVH our God with all our hearts, souls and minds” (Matthew 22:39). In the New Covenant, John would teach further that:

“He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (I John 2:9-11).

*Leviticus 19:32. “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.”   

The first part of this verse, Mifnei seva takum!— “Before the aged, arise!” is today posted on little signs over the first seats behind the driver on public buses in Jerusalem:

PLEASE PRAY for the aged in Israel—that they will draw near to their God. Pray for the younger, that there will be a renewal of respect and honor for age in the Land—with the realization that this is linked to the “Fear of God” and honoring the Name of the LORD.

*Leviticus 20:7-8. “Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am YHVH your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am YHVH who sanctifies you.”

The words “consecrate,” “holy,” and “sanctifies” in this passage all have within them the root of the Hebrew word kadosh. Here we have man’s responsibility in “setting himself apart”—by guarding and walking in God’s directives—but we also see that becoming truly Holy will ultimately require a work of the LORD Himself! 

*Amos 9:11. “In that day I will raise up the fallen sukka [hut, temporary shelter, tent, tabernacle] of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old.”

Zechariah 12:10 makes clear that a day of grace for conviction and repentance is coming to the “House of David”. Ezekiel 34:23-30 and 37:22-28 prophecy that in latter days a united kingdom of Israel under David will be restored. He built his first palace on Mount Zion, just south and below Mount Moria where his son Solomon would build the First Temple. David was first and last a worshipper “in Spirit and in truth.” He brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, placed it in a temporary dwelling, and stationed worshippers around it ministering to the LORD for some 32 years. In this, we see the phenomenon of the Holy Spirit’s raising up of places of continual worship and intercession in Israel and around the world as an “earnest of,” a “prelude to,” the ultimate fulfillment of the Amos 9:11 prophecy—which will be a blessing to Israel and all of the World.

Please pray that God’s “Kingdom Come!” over this ancient location, the City of David just south of and below the Temple Mount, where David built his first palace and erected the tent for the Ark. The area is currently home to both a Muslim Arab and an Orthodox Jewish population. Pray for God’s righteousness and justice, His wisdom, courage, compassion and timing over Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Birkat, who continue to face decisions of great import regarding this area. Pray for the Arabs and Orthodox Jews who are hostile neighbors on this tiny strip of land…that a Light would shine in their darkness—a revelation of the Son of David who is also the Son of God, who came once as a Man into this world, and who will one day return to rule. 

Pray that corporate praise, worship and intercession as modelled by David will continue to be established and grow in Israel and around the world, nourished by the Holy Spirit of Truth.

The Torah and Haftarah portions for next week, May 7-13, 2017 is called Emor—“Say!” 

TORAH: Leviticus 21:1—24:23

HAFTARAH: Ezekiel 44:15-31

In A Nutshell

The portions, Aharei Mot (After the Death) and Kedoshim (Holy), are connected. In the portion, Aharei Mot, following the death of Aaron’s two sons—Nadav and Avihu—the Creator details before Moses various rules concerning the way Aaron may approach the Holy in the tabernacle: it requires offering several sacrifices. Aaron must choose between two male goats, one to be sacrificed as a sin offering, and the other to be sent to the desert as a “goat to Azazel.”

The portion also details the prohibition to slaughter for food without bringing an offering to the tent of meeting. The Creator instructs Moses to command the people not to follow the ways of the Egyptians and the Canaanites, and not to obey their rules. At the end of the portion the Creator tells the people of Israel not to be defiled by all the impurities that the nations that dwelled in the land of Canaan before them did because if they did, the land would repel them.

In the portion, Kedoshim (holy), the Creator says to the children of Israel through Moses: “You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus, 19:2).

The portion details many different commandments between man and God, between man and man, and some that concern offering sacrifices. The portion also deals with fearing Mother and Father, observing the Sabbath, and the prohibition on idol worship. Some of the Mitzvot (commandments) relate to the land of Israel, the land of Canaan, the tithing, fruits of the tree, idol worship, and other laws.

The portion ends with a complete prohibition on incest and adultery, which are punishable by death. The Creator commands the children of Israel to keep the laws when they arrive at the land of Israel, and refrain from what they did while in Egypt. They must separate between pure and impure beasts, and, likewise, the Creator will separate between Israel and the rest of the nations. This is how they will be Holy to Him.

Commentary

Most people believe that the Torah speaks of this world, that it is full of physical actions and descriptions of animals, people, and objects, rules of social conduct, what is permitted, and what is forbidden. We either forget, or have never known that this world is but a replication of the spiritual world.

In truth, the stories in the Torah narrate only the spiritual world. We perceive the spiritual forces as a replication from spirituality. They are depicted in us according to our degree and our perception of the world. This is why it seems to us that we are seeing an entire world with all its details, that the Torah speaks of how we should behave with every detail—favorably or unfavorably—according to the Creator’s will.

The Creator wants to do good to His creations, to raise them to His level. “Return O Israel to the Lord your God” (Hosea, 14:2) means causing them to be like Him—loving and giving. The rule, “love your neighbor as yourself,”[1] is the inclusive rule of the Torah. It is the rule by which we shift from loving others to loving the Creator at the end of our correction.

We need to scrutinize the connection between slaughtering beasts or avoiding certain actions, committing others actions, and Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator, love of God, love of Israel, or love of the whole world. The Torah does not speak of any other corrections but the correction of the heart, as it was written that it was given to men of heart.[2] Hence, all the Mitzvot that are written in the Torah—as Iben Ezra writes in his commentary on the Torah—were made only to correct the heart, meaning man’s desire, inclination. The Torah was intended to bring us into love because initially, our nature is the opposite of love: it includes the evil inclination, envy, lust, and pursuit of honor, as we clearly see in our world.

This is why the Torah is telling us how to correct ourselves, our desires, according to our perception of this world. We cannot correct our ego instantaneously from aiming to receive for myself to aiming to bestow upon others. The numerous corrections we perform on our desires are gradual.

The two portions, Aharei Mot (After the Death) and Kedoshim (Holy), are adjacent and connected because they contain two major corrections. The first is bestowing in order to bestow, as it is written, “That which you hate, do not do to your friend”[3] (Masechet Shabbat, 31a). The second is “love your neighbor as yourself,”[1] which is a more advanced correction.

The first correction is merely avoiding harming others. When we constantly seek our own benefit, the result is always at the expense of others. The first correction was given to a proselyte, to an egoist who wants to be corrected, to rise from the ego, from the “nations of the world within, to the degree of Israel, to a state of “That which you hate, do not do to your friend.”[4] By that we restrict our ego and avoid hurting others. The next stage is the more advanced degree, “love your neighbor as yourself,”[1] which we must achieve.

Following those Mitzvot and corrections, we perceive the world that is depicted in each of the 613 desires that comprise us. When we correct those desires from egoism to wanting to give and to love, we see an opposite world, as it is written, I have seen an upside down world.”[5] We come to see a higher world running by new, completely different rules—of giving, love, and connection. Today not only does the world appear to us as integrally connected, we ourselves are becoming integral, and we relate to the world this way: we include everyone and see everything as one whole.

This is the reason why the two portions are conjoined. The correction in the portion, Aharei Mot, is the correction of emerging from the evil inclination. In the next correction, the one in the portion, Kedoshim, we transcend the evil inclination and raise the desires we have corrected to the next degree. First we seemingly “brush them off,” and now we raise them toward giving, love, to the place of the holy ones.

First we rise above our egoistic will to receive and shift sins into mistakes, and mistakes to Mitzvot (commandments/good deeds/corrections). Next, we correct the sins (that we previously turned into mistakes) into Mitzvot. Now everything works for love.

By treating everyone with absolute love, we reach the love of God. This is the final result where we obtain equivalence with Him, as it is written, “Return O Israel to the Lord your God” (Hosea, 14:2). In other words, we obtain Dvekut (adhesion) with Him. This is the purpose of the corrections, the purpose of creation, of the path we must go through.

Everything begins with the shattering, with feeling the bad, the recognition of evil. This is what Nadav and Avihu did in the previous portion, and this is why the portion is called Aharei Mot (After the Death). All our actions in corrections are built consecutively.

We must not forget that the real corrections are only in our desires. We correct our hearts, and our world is the inanimate world, an imaginary world in which we play like kids in the sand.

Today the world is in a new era, facing a global crisis that must be resolved. This is our “exercise.” If we approach it correctly, as the Torah tells us, we will receive the Torah—its internality—as the Torah of truth, and we will know how to achieve redemption from exile out of the sins we are in. Then we will reach the stage of Aharei Mot, of Kedoshim (holy).

The portion tells of the people of Israel entering the land of Israel. If they follow the laws of the Canaanites, the land will vomit them out. This portion always comes near the Day of Independence, which is odd because we have returned to our land after 2,000 years but it still does not seem as though we are keeping the spiritual laws.

It also does not seem like we have a grip on the land of Israel. We are still “under a question mark” in this land. Perhaps we do not like to admit it, but we are. We are aware that we are still dependent on our neighbors and on the rest of the world. If the whole world should press us now we will have no choice but to do as they say.

The words, “the whole world,” refer to the Creator, the upper force that sets up the conditions by which we will truly repent and begin to actually be the people of Israel in the land of Israel. Ysrael (Israel) comes from Yashar El (straight to God), meaning to resemble the force of bestowal and love, the upper force, which demands of us to be in a state of “love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we achieve brotherly love according to the laws of Arvut (mutual guarantee), the laws of Kabbalah, of integral education—as we circulate them—we will truly gain a grip on the land. Eretz (land) comes from the word Ratzon (desire); it is our innermost desire, the one that determines precisely how attached we are to the ground, to the land of Israel.

It all depends on us. We were given a small portion, and if we cannot live according to this part, a part of us will be cut off, then another part, and then another. It is not because the neighboring countries or the UN have decided anything; it is because we ourselves do not fit in the land of Israel.

Actually, the threat is already there because “the heart of ministers and kings is in the hand of the Lord” (Proverbs, 25:1). If we are in accord with the land of Israel, we will receive it and no one will rule over us. It all depends on our accord with the land of Israel. If we aim our desires toward holiness, as in “You will be holy for I am holy” (Leviticus, 19:2)—holiness means bestowal and love—then there is no doubt we will receive it in this world, too, the whole of the land of Israel. No one will be able to say anything; everyone will agree that we are the ones who truly have to be here in the land. The nation that will live here will be a different one, “The people of Israel,” living according to “love your neighbor as yourself,” as it was prior to the ruin.

Questions and Answers

There is a feeling that although we are officially in our land, we are still in exile.

Yes, this is why it is written that we are a gathering of exiles.

What does it mean that the land vomits the desires out?

If we do not match ourselves with the will of God, with the land of Israel, the land ejects us, rejects us. It is lack of equivalence of form. Equivalence of form is the general law of nature, which determines how suitable and connected we are to the land, to the ground. Equivalence of form exists to the extent that we connect to each other, to the extent that we achieve Arvut between us, unity, brotherly love. If we do not, we do not belong in the land of Israel.

Does this refer to today’s land of Israel? After all, it says “desires,” not people. So is this about desires or about the land?

We are still not in the real land of Israel because we and our desires are still corrupted and negative, even the energy between us. Hence, we do not allow the land of Israel to be fair (beautiful). We still do not feel that our land is blooming.

From The Zohar: Hybrid and Mixing

When the Creator created the world He set up each thing, each one in its side, either to the right or to the left, and appointed higher forces over them. And there is not even a tiny blade of grass in the land on which there is no higher force above in the upper worlds. All that they do in each one, and everything that each one does is all by prevailing of the upper force that is appointed over it above.

Zohar for All, Kedoshim (Holy), item 108

We are far behind, but we are now required to be in the degree of the “land of Israel.” What can be changed here? How can we reach the degree of the land of Israel?

If we begin to examine our qualities in relation to others we will see how immersed we are in Egypt, how our ego, our inner Pharaoh, dominates us. We disparage everyone out of envy, lust, and pursuit of honor, and we relate to others only in order to use them. This is exile. It is not a geographical point, but an inner state. We will finally want to emerge from it by connecting to people and beginning to think, “When will I reach my correction, the state of ‘love your neighbor as yourself?’”

When we achieve it, we will begin to advance toward that correction. Then we will see how incapable of it we are. This is the meaning of the land of Israel not belonging to us. We cannot be together in brotherly love, so we must demand of the Creator to correct it. We must shout, pray, show Him our need. Actually, everything we have been through happened so we would perceive our dependence on Him, so we would feel that all corrections depend only on Him.

We are going through all of it on purpose; the Creator made it this way. Otherwise we would forget about Him. When a person turns to the Creator for correction, He comes and “settles in” with the quality of bestowal and love between us. We progress and discover Him between us, meaning discover the upper world.

This is the upper system in the spiritual world between us, to which we arrive upon our correction. And because our desire was corrected due to the presence of the Creator, it is now in the land of Israel, a state of redemption called the “land of Israel.” Previously, it was in Babylon, the land of Canaan, Egypt, and a desert. The land of Israel is a state of connection between us, which the Creator fills.

We often speak of a spiritual connection. Are the things we talked about spiritual things, including the land of Israel?

Everything is within us and between us.

Why do we hear that the Creator does not judge the children of Israel on anything regarding this world, yet they are punished in this world?

They are judged because we must return to the spiritual degree we held prior to the ruin of the Temple.

Even though we always thought that the Creator does not “keep score” with us in this world?

The ARI begins his book, Tree of Life, explaining that “The upper, simple light fills the whole reality.” Likewise, it is written, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi, 3:6), and “He has given a law, and it shall not be breached” (Psalms, 148:6). There is a constant state by which we should measure ourselves. It is an absolute state love and tight connection among everyone, not just among the children of Israel, as it was before, but throughout the world. We are the “chosen people,” the ones who must be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus, 19:6). First we must achieve that state, then we must set an example to the rest of the world.

From The Zohar: Ah, land of the buzzing of wings

“Ah, land of the buzzing of wings.” When the Creator created the world and wished to reveal the depths out of the hidden and light out of darkness, they mingled in one another. Because of it, Light came out of darkness, and the deep came out and appeared out of the hidden; one came out of the other. And from the good, out came bad; from mercy, out came judgment, and all was included in one another.

Zohar for All, Kedoshim (Holy), item 7

Following the shattering everything became mixed. Now after the ruin we must distinguish between good and bad, light and darkness, and thus build ourselves. Our view of the world and the relations between us all result from the scrutiny. The ruin is in our favor because by correcting it we build ourselves, just as a children build with LEGO bricks and thus learn.

What is the degree of Kadosh or Kedoshim (holy)?

“Holy” is the highest degree, as it is written (Leviticus, 19:2), “You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy.” This means that a person transcends the ego and avoids using it, unless it is for others’ benefit. Bestowing in order to bestow is the first stage. The second stage is receiving in order to bestow. The first stage is as Hillel says, “That which you hate, do not do to your friend” (Masechet Shabbat, 31a). That is, do not harm others. This is the beginning of corrections. But once you have achieved it you can accept the others’ desires and begin to serve them, fulfill them. This is called “love.”

That is, Aharei Mot is a precondition for Kedoshim?

Certainly, these are two stages of the correction of Galgalta and Eynaim of the soul, and the correction of the AHP of the soul. There are two kinds of Kelim in which there are positive or negative Mitzvot (commandments to do something or avoid doing something) from the Torah. Each Mitzva is an act of rising above the ego, of benefiting others, or at least not harming others. These are all the 613 Mitzvot—248, and 365.

Is there a special connection between the Creator and the people of Israel? Why are they holy? Is it just because He is holy?

Man needs the upper light in order to rise above the ego and bestow upon others. We have no force of bestowal of our own because we consist purely of “reception-only” substance. We can give only if the upper light shines on us, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice” because “the light in it reforms.”[6] Thus, the Creator illuminates that quality for us, raises us above the ego, and all we need is to want it. The actions come from above, which is why they are called “the work of God,” since the Creator is the one who does the work. However, He works only on our invitation.

[1] Jerusalem Talmud, Seder Nashim, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b.

[2] Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, p 141.

[3] Jerusalem Talmud, Seder Nashim, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b.

[4] Masechet Shabbat, 31a.

[5] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Nezikin, Baba Batra, 10b; Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Pesachim, 50a.

[6] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Kidushin, 30b; Midrash Rabah, Eicha, “Introduction,” Paragraph 2.