After the death/Holy (Ones) — אחרי מות/קדושים
- HAFTARAH/HAFTORAH (includes: PROPHETS or WRITINGS) – Prophets:
- BRIT CHADASHAH (a.k.a New Covenant/Testament) – GOSPEL:
Note: The regular readings above are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.
The twenty-ninth reading from the Torah and sixth reading from Leviticus is named Acharei Mot (אחרי מות), two words that mean “after the death.” The title comes from the first words of the first verse of the reading, which say, “Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron” (Leviticus 16:1). Leviticus 16 describes the Tabernacle ceremony for the holy festival of the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 17 establishes general rules for sacrifice and sanctuary. Leviticus 18 lays down specific laws about permitted and forbidden sexual relationships.
The thirtieth reading from the Torah and seventh reading from Leviticus is named Kedoshim (קדושים), which mean “holy.” The title comes from the words in Leviticus 19:2, which says, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” Leviticus 19 describes the holy community through a series of specific commandments. Leviticus 20 warns against the snares of sexual immorality and idolatry, mandating a death penalty for certain sins. Except in biblical leap years, Kedoshim is read on the same Sabbath as the previous reading, Acharei Mot.
- Leviticus 16:1 | The Day of Atonement
- Leviticus 17:1 | The Slaughtering of Animals
- Leviticus 17:10 | Eating Blood Prohibited
- Leviticus 18:1 | Sexual Relations
- Leviticus 19:1 | Ritual and Moral Holiness
- Leviticus 20:1 | Penalties for Violations of Holiness
- Eze 22:1 | The Bloody City
Whenever there is a double parasha like this week, usually we read the haftarah associated with the second parasha. With Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16:1–20:27), however, this is not the case; we read the haftarah from the first parasha, Acharei Mot.
Why this departure from the norm? The reason is that the content of the haftarah of Kedoshim is less than desirable. The reading is from Ezekiel 20, which details the woe that will be visited upon Israel for its sins against YAH Almighty. It is often referred to as Hatishpot from verse 4, which means, “Are you willing to pronounce judgment?” This begins the dark litany of Israel’s sins. Just as we read the Torah portion of the sin of the golden calf in a subdued voice, our Sages desired not to read this haftarah unless it was absolutely necessary. So when the portions were combined, the custom developed to read the selection from the Prophets for Acharei Mot instead of Kedoshim. This haftarah is taken from the ninth chapter of Amos. It, too, contains words of judgment upon Israel but it also offers words of comfort and hope.
Parashat Kedoshim opens with the verse, “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord YAHUVEH your ELOHIM, am holy” (Lev 19:1). This implies that Israel has a unique relationship with YAH (a.k.a ELOHIM). This is attested in other passages as well, where YAH says that we are:
- a treasured possession (Deut 7:6),
- engraved on his palms (Isa 49:16),
- the apple of his eye (Zech 2:8).
The opening verse of our haftarah seems to challenge this. “To me, Israelites, you are just like the Ethiopians, declares the LORD YAHUVEH . True, I brought you up from Egypt, but also the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir” (Amos 9:7). There are many different views, both positive and negative, on what this verse means. It is interpreted by some as a rebuke. YAHUVEH ELOHIM is telling Israel that HE is concerned for all peoples, not just them. Therefore Israel should not assume that she will go unpunished for her sins.
Amos points out that chosenness is not just a blessing, but a blessing that bears responsibility.
Christianity tends to view YAH’S demand of holiness as primarily ethical in nature. YAH is holy and good, therefore he demands that his people be as well. While this is true, Judaism has a significantly different understanding. The reason for the demand for holiness is primarily covenantal rather than ethical. YAH chooses Israel, redeems her, and establishes a relationship that includes responsibilities on both YAH’S part and Israel’s.
Israel is a partner with YAHUVEH ELOHIM in the redemption of the world. Partners have obligations under the covenant that establishes that partnership.
Kedoshim details over fifty different mitzvot that are part of this covenantal relationship. This fact emphasizes that our pact with YAH is primarily based on deeds, not faith. If we act in an ill manner, we reflect poorly on YAHUVEH, the LORD. This is called Hillul YAHUVEH in our tradition; Defamation of YAH’S Name. We have this impact because we are connected to HIM in a special relationship. Just as an employee represents a company, or a child represents a family, we represent God. Our actions matter.
This difference between Christian and Jewish (and, hence, Messianic Jewish) understanding cannot be overstated. The Church has been grafted into these covenantal responsibilities as well. The Church can learn this perspective from our movement.
We are covenantally obligated to lead a life of TORAH and mitzvot. If we do so, we enhance our unique role. If not, we undermine it and merely become like any other nation on earth.
May we live up to our calling of being partners with YAHUVEH ELOHIM.
May we live, lives of Kiddush YAHUVEH; sanctification of his Name.
And thereby seal ourselves as a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation. A truly treasured possession of YAH’S.
AMEN AMEN and AMEN in YAHUSHUA’S name!!!