Kedoshim (Holy Ones), which begins with God’s command that Israel be holy because God is holy.
Since the Hebrew word Kedoshim is related to Kadosh, the word for holy, sanctified, or set apart, we understand from the opening verses that a person set aside for the service of God is holy because God is holy.
The Hebrew worship song Hineh Chayai (Here Is My Life) highlights the deep longing that God places in the hearts of sincere Believers to be holy and pleasing to Him:
Here is my life; I give it to You (Hineh Chayai, ani noten l’cha)
My heart, my soul (Libi, nafshi)
May Your will be done in me (Aseh bi et r’tzoncha)
Make me holy (Aseh oti kadosh)
Holy before Your eyes (Kadosh lifnei eneicha)
But what does true holiness really look like? Most people have their own preconceived notions of holiness based on preferences, upbringing, and even systems.
But this song’s line “Make me holy before Your eyes” spotlights the truth that it is God who makes us holy.
Furthermore, it is His standard of holiness that counts.
Although Paul cautions Believers to “be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone (Romans 12:17),” we must remember that not everyone has a handle on what is holy since it stems from a relationship with God and a knowledge of His Word.
Holiness: Set Apart for His Purposes
God has made us kadosh (holy or set apart) for His special purposes. Sometimes those special purposes might not be evident to others.
For instance, we can imagine that Esther may have experienced some criticism as she prepared to come before the Persian King, even though she was being obedient to her king and to her uncle who was caring for her like a father.
In the eyes of some Jews, she might have looked far from holy—consenting to marry an uncircumcised pagan King?! Unthinkable for a nice Jewish girl!
And, yet, God placed her in a royal position to save the Jewish People from destruction, and within those circumstances, she did her best to live up to those purposes.
As Messianic Jews, we are certainly not considered “holy” by our Orthodox Jewish brethren, but rather traitors to our people and our God.
Ultimately, what is important is not how people see us, but how God sees us. We are each individuals and God treats us as such. So let us allow God to make us holy—before His eyes.
Still, that doesn’t mean we are to do our own thing and define for ourselves what holiness looks like. Today’s Parasha reveals for us how to sanctify ourselves and relate to God’s holiness.
So the question remains: “How can we be holy?”
The key is in the words, “And you shall walk in His ways.” (Deuteronomy 28:9)
We are to emulate the actions and character of God. Just as He is merciful, we are to be merciful; as He is patient, kind, and forgiving so are we to be. Yeshua (Jesus) emphasized this guiding principle in His own life:
“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)
It naturally follows, then, that Yeshua instructed us to also imitate God: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
The original Hebrew word in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) that is often translated “perfect” is tamim, which actually means complete, sound, or blameless.
As the Psalmist David wrote, “I will be careful to lead a blameless life [derech tamim]—when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart [tam l’babi].” (Psalm 101:2)
In the Hebrew, therefore, we see the true meaning of this word, which is so often translated “perfect.”
A blameless life (derech tamim)and blameless heart (lev tam)refer to purity. While God does not expect us to be perfect as we define it—to get everything right the first time and every time, He does want us to walk in His ways—along paths of purity and holiness with a pure heart.
This Torah portion reveals that such purity naturally embraces integrity and rejects deceptiveness.
“You shall not steal, do not lie, do not deceive one another.” (Leviticus 19:11)
“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with Me; the one whose walk is blameless [b’derech tamim] will serve Me. No one who practices deceit will dwell in My house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in My presence.” (Psalm 101:6–7)
Of course, this includes holiness and integrity in commerce.
The people of God are not to follow the immoral or unjust codes of those who do not know God, but rather to deal honestly in all business affairs.
“Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:35–36)