Between Holiness and Holiness – Shabbat Parshat Kedoshim

וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר ה’ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־כׇּל־עֲדַ֧ת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֥ אֲלֵהֶ֖ם קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ כִּ֣י קָד֔וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י ה’ אֱלֹקיכֶֽם

Hashem spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, your God ה’, am holy.

Our parsha starts with the Pasuk “Kedoshim Tiheyu” – “You shall be holy“. This seems to suggest we should aim to be holy – always. 

In the previous Parsha however, Parshat Acharei Mot, – Hashem instructs Ahron HaKohen – וְאַל־יָבֹ֤א בְכׇל־עֵת֙ אֶל־הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ- “he should not come at all times to the holy (place)”.

The question is: If indeed we aim to be holy at all times, as in Kedoshim Tiheyu, why then should Ahron not attend the holy place at any time? 

Obviously – there are degrees of Kedusha, Holiness, and perhaps one should try and elaborate a little: 

The Medrash (the Jewish Biblical exegesis) describers “three Kedushot” of which only two could be reached by human beings. What are those “two Kedushot“? 

One degree of Kedusha may relate to our aim for “constant Kedusha” (According to Ramban’s Commentary in Parshat Kedoshim: “Be holy even in matters which are not forbidden”). The way we consume food, manage our intimate relationships, etc. – our aim is to sanctify even the mundane, day to day activities. 

The other- and higher Kedusha is reserved to special times, and during loftier activities such as prayer, study, etc.

Hence the difference between what we are asked to do in Parshat Kedoshim – the more general and basic kedusha, vis-à-vis the higher degree of holiness – reserved for special times and situations – as in the previous Parshat Achrei Mot. 

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld