Parashat Kedoshim (Holy Ones)
Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:1-20:27
Shabbat “Head of the Month”
Maftir: Numbers 28:11-15
Haftarah: 1 Samuel 20:18-42
There is a special reading for the Shabbat of the beginning of the month, which is an idea we find in the Maftir (the special reading) from Numbers 28:11:
Then at the beginning of each of your months you shall present a burnt offering to the LORD: two bulls and one ram, seven male lambs one year old without defect;
as well as in the special Haftarah from 1 Samuel 20:18:
Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed since your seat will be empty.”
In this verse, Jonathan refers to the special celebration connected to the new month.
The Parasha for this week opens with very important and well-known verses from Leviticus 19:1-2:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”
I believe that these verses are important since we followers of the Messiah are called to allow His redemption to be manifested in the way we live our lives by being set apart and honoring God.
As we continue to read Leviticus 19, we find part of the description of what it means to live a holy life in God’s sight. It always strikes me how important it is to God how we treat one another:
You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may certainly rebuke your neighbor, but you are not to incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor hold any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
Keeping this in mind as we read in the Haftarah portion about Jonathan’s deep love for David on one hand and King Saul’s deep hatred of him on the other, the ungodliness of Saul’s life becomes even more evident.
As it was the celebration of the head of the month, Jonathan and David had a plan where they would find out Saul’s real intentions for David:
But it came about the next day, the second day of the new moon, that David’s place was empty again; so Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” And Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly requested leave of me to go to Bethlehem. He said, ‘Please let me go, because our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has ordered me to attend. So now, if I have found favor in your sight, please let me slip away so that I may see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.” Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For, as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now then, send men and bring him to me, for he is doomed to die!” But Jonathan replied to his father Saul and said to him, “Why must he be put to death? What has he done?” Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike and kill him; so Jonathan knew that his father had decided to put David to death.
1 Samuel 20:27-33
Saul’s deep hatred of David, and in turn of his own son, came from a seed of jealousy that he allowed to grow deep in his heart. If gone unchecked and allowed to take root, any kind of sin can come from a seed of ungodliness. So, we should be careful not to judge Saul because we are all capable of all kinds of sin. When we allow ungodliness to enter our life, and forget that as God’s people, we are called to be different from the world and to live our lives by His standards, we can fall into sin.
As I write this, I would like to give a word of exhortation to all my brothers and sisters who are followers of Yeshua the Messiah. Saul’s position as the King of Israel caused him to be blind to God’s call in leading Israel in the LORD’s way. At times, we His followers will allow entitlement to bring pride and arrogance into our lives which, just like Saul, can bring us to a place where we will forget our call to serve God and love others.
God is holy; He has called us, His followers to be holy, just as He is holy.
So, how do we lead holy lives? Rav Sha’ul (the Apostle Paul) gives us the antidote to selfishness and ungodliness:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Messiah, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Messiah Yeshua, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name…
Let’s follow His example!
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