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Two faces of Kedusha

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The Torah emphasizes time and again that the Jewish people are holy. At their birth as a covenantal people at Mt. Sinai, God declares, “You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). In the beginning of Parshat Kedoshim, framing chapters dense with mitzvot, we read, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). The concept of holiness in these contexts is not fully clear. Does it mean that we are intrinsically better than everyone else?

Korach certainly thought so. Korach, together with his followers, confronted Moses with the challenge of holiness: “You have gone too far!,” they accused him, “for all the community are holy, all of them, and the LORD is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above the LORD’s congregation?” (Numbers 16:3). Korach’s attack was simple: If we are holy, then we are all equal, and if we are all equal, why should you, Moses, possess the mantle of leadership more........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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