Mixed Message

This week we read a double Parshah: Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16-18) and Kedoshim (Leviticus 19-20).

The first Parshah is a description of the High Priest (Kohen Gadol), holiest Jew in the nation, in the Holy of Holies (Kodesh Hakadashim), holiest place in the world, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. The transcendental experience of entering G‑d’s inner sanctum and meriting a private moment of worship must have seemed the ultimate religious experience. Yet the next Parshah begins with the instruction, "Holy shall you be, for I am holy"--as if only now do we embark on a course towards holiness.

It's Never Enough

This underscores a double message. On the one hand the most righteous person may never assume that he has completed his task and can now relax. Having reached the pinnacle of devotion, one must set one's sights ever higher and begin anew.

It's Never Too much

On the other hand, the Parshah of Kedoshim outlines the path to holiness through many civil and ethical laws such as honesty, tolerance, charity etc. These laws don't require a great degree of piety to fulfill; yet they lead to a sanctity that supersedes even that of the High Priest in the Holy of Holies!

Indeed sanctity is not the domain of a select few but the inheritance of every individual.