Up for Debate

This module contains one key debate amongst the various classical commentaries of Chumash. Background information about these commentators can be found here.


Parshat Kedoshim gets its name from the opening verses which say


וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר: דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־כָּל־עֲדַ֧ת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֥ אֲלֵהֶ֖ם קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ כִּ֣י קָד֔וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ 

God spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: Be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy.


God commands the Jewish people “be holy”, which sounds like a great idea but is a little vague. The commentators debate exactly what God meant by this


Rashi connects this verse to the section before, which dealt with forbidden relationships. Rashi explains that holiness is derived specifically from sexual purity and controlling one’s desires in that crucial area Ramban thinks Rashi is being a little too narrow with his focus. Ramban explains that the Torah cannot possibly write commandments for every aspect of our lives. A person could follow every single commandment and still be unholy. The Torah is commanding here generally that we don’t just follow the written letter of the law. God asks that we take the lessons and ethos of the commandments and apply them to live a general life of holiness.