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Weekly D'rash Kedoshim

This past Shabbat, I began a series on virtues that concretize what it means to draw closer to God. It is vitally important that we realize that closeness to God is not just a feeling, but it encompasses our whole life. This means how we think, the choices we make, and how we relate to God, others, the world around us, and even ourselves. Our Torah portion for this week is a section of Leviticus that focuses on faithfulness as a means of holiness. The beginning of the portion, Lev 18:1–5, can be summarized as "live my way and not the way of the world." The "way of the LORD" does not conform to the "way of the world." Yeshua prayed for all who would trust in him, saying: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." This means that we do not live by conventional wisdom but by the Word of God. It means that our attitudes and actions are coordinated with the way God intended for his image bearers to live. In Lev 18:5, we read that if we live this way, we will have life. This way of life is described in Leviticus 18–19. Yeshua defines for us what it means to have life. In Luke 10:25–29, Yeshua is put to the test by an expert in the Torah who asks him how to have eternal life. Yeshua tells him to love the LORD with all of his heart, and his neighbor as himself (which is also in our Torah portion in Lev 19:18b). He then quotes Lev 18:5, "do this and you will live." According to Yeshua, living faithfully is the same as having faith. The point is that if we want to live in deep connection to Yeshua, we must be people who live a "Yeshua life." This means intentionally making decisions that reflect the Word of God. This way of life is how God made us to live. It will give us the most satisfaction and make the biggest difference in life. It is not about “obeying rules.” It is a way of life—the best way of life! John also emphasizes this in 1 John 2:29: “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” Over the next few weeks, as we journey together toward Shavuot, may we work on a variety of virtues that will draw us closer to God. Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Howard

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