What does the Hebrew word Kodesh mean?
or in the temple it is kodesch kodaschim, the "holiest of holies", or more precisely: that which has the "highest degree of holiness". All sacrifices are sacred, but some are valid " a^ kodesch kodaschim.
Because in ancient times a deity was imagined as distant and it was considered dangerous to approach it, this also applied to places and objects in their possession. In some sections of the Bible it has kadosch hence the same meaning as the Polynesian word "taboo" . In such cases, sanctity has been acquired by a physical force flowing from one object to the next like an electric current, having forces that can be destructive.
The noun Codesch does not necessarily indicate an absolute taboo. The holy places may be entered and holy food may be eaten, but only if certain rules, especially those of cultic purity, are strictly observed. Failure to disregard these rules, be it intentional or not, is a desecration with dire consequences.
C. This technical notion of "holiness" is manifested in the customs discussed in the earlier chapters of this book. The customs survived even after the ideas they express of a more mature conception of kedu-scha have been displaced. Because the term kadosch over time expressed less and less the physical separation from God and human beings, but rather the spiritual gap between human inadequacy and divine perfection.
In his calling vision, the prophet Jescha-jahu (6: 3) sees God surrounded by seraphs who sing:
kadosch, kadosch, kadosch ... “Holy, holy, holy! The Lord of Zebaoth! His presence fills the whole world! "His immediate reaction is:" Woe to me. I am lost. For I am a man with unclean lips and I live in a people with unclean lips "(Isa. 6: 5). The sinfulness present even in language makes him appear like an intruder and unworthy of approaching God. The prophets often portray God in terms that express supreme power. First of all, it is Yeshajahu, the God
Kedosh Yisrael, "Holy Israel", names (e.g. 1,4).
Despite this gap between God's perfection and human limitations, God was not thought of as distant and unapproachable. A later prophet, whose words can be found in the last chapters of the book of Yeshajahu, has God say: "High and holy I am enthroned - but also with the downcast and with the bowed heart" (Isa. 57:15).
Particularly noteworthy in our chapter is the statement that the Israelites should imitate God and thus themselves become holy.
d. Because Rudolph Otto's book "Das Heilige"  exerted a great influence on one or even several generations of theologians, this last aspect of holiness must now be discussed in more detail. The author, who was a Protestant theologian, disliked the efforts of the Protestant theologians liberal theology to reduce religion to ethics. He showed that human nature has a religious aspect that is originally independent of ethics. It is this part of us that reacts to the mysterious and awe-inspiring, to a reality which is overwhelming and fascinating at the same time, which cannot be adequately understood or rationalized. According to Otto, the word "holy" and its equivalents indicate the experience of the "numinous", a divine reality that arouses fear, awe and obedience coarse and primitive form is this experience through becoming aware of the Eerie, spooky and hair-raising have been triggered. With the clarification and heightening of the ideas of the divine, the view of holiness has also acquired ethical aspects and awe is no longer aroused only by the terrifying mystery, but also by the divine perfection.
It is noticeable that Otto, a staunch Lutheran, does not mention this chapter of the book of Leviticus at all. He spoke of holiness only as an emotional experience, not of it kedusha as a goal and a task attained through a disciplined life. In his zeal to give religion a unique
To give it a unique character, Otto reduced the ethical component of holiness to a mere "plus". This does not correspond to the Jewish view of this topic, as the text before us shows, as well as the repeated statements in our prayers and praise that God " sanctified us by his commandments ". In Judaism, religion and ethics are not identical, but inseparable .
e. Chapters 18-20 give a clear account of the sanctity of life.
The main thrust is ethical. And the moral laws of this chapter are not just formal orders. They demand fair, humane, and empathetic treatment of others. Attention and respect should be given to the elderly, the disabled and the poor. The worker should be paid immediately. One should show the same love for a stranger as for a fellow citizen. But the law is not only concerned with overt behavior, but also with the motives for an act. Feelings of revenge and resentment are condemned.
Among the ethical duties, particular emphasis is placed on sexual decency. The Torah calls for control, not suppression, of the sex drive. Life is sacred. The physical processes through which life is reproduced must be dealt with responsibly.
The ethical decrees of the 19th chapter are mixed with cultic commandments. Some of them are directed against pagan and superstitious customs that seemed incompatible with biblical religion. With others, the intention is less clear. To the biblical writer, these cult guidelines had the same authority as the ethical commandments. Traditional Judaism regards them as "royal orders" to be obeyed, whether one understands them or not (see the introduction in Lev. 11: 1-23).
We humans today cannot agree, but we can see that worship and cult, when performed thoughtfully and reverently, enrich both personal and family life. Although they do not recognize older views about the origin and authority of the rituals, they can still benefit from the ritual itself. In the sacred life, while the ethical element is paramount, it is not the only one. By combining moral and cultic commandments, the author of the Law of Holiness showed a profound understanding of their interpenetration.
f. These are the elements of a way of life that ka-dosch is called. The chapter begins with the surprising statement that by these means we can and should try to be holy like God. The same Torah that emphasizes the difference between God's sublime perfection and our earthly limitation urges us to strive to reduce that difference. The task is endless, but also infinitely rewarding. Rabbi Tarfon said, “Avoid any act that has no limit or any task that cannot be accomplished. L. is like someone who was employed to take water from the sea and pour it onto the land. But when the sea did not empty and the land did not flood, he became discouraged. Then someone said to him: You fool! Why do you get discouraged as long as you receive a gold dinar every day as a reward? " The pursuit of the unattainable can be a means to its fulfillment and is its own reward.
G. The law of holiness is not addressed to individual individuals, but to the entire community of Israel. Its aim is not to create a few saints who withdraw from the world with contemplative or ascetic forms of life. Rather, the Torah y. Aimed to create a holy people who showed their destiny for worship in normal everyday relationships in agriculture, trade, family life and community affairs (cf. Ex 19: 6).
H. Some scholars attribute this chapter to a special source, the so-called "holiness law". Typical of "H" is a certain idea about the Holy Land . Although God does the whole
Rules the world, he is uniquely connected to the land of Canaan, later the land of Israel, and is present there. Therefore, pagan customs that are acceptable anywhere else in the world will lead to an expulsion from the land of Israel (18:24, 28;
20,22ff.). The law of the Sabbath year applies not only to the people but also to the soil. Failure to obey this law will result in years of desolation (see below, 26:34).
The idea that a particular geographic area is particularly sacred may alienate us today, but many naturally assume that Jews should have higher expectations of themselves than of others, that a Jewish community is a model and a Jewish state is different and should be better than other nation states.
The concept of holiness includes the thought that what we do and what we make of our life affects not only us as individuals and not only our society, but the entire cosmos. A divine intention runs through everything there is. We can ally with it, oppose it, or, perhaps worst of all, disregard it. This central chapter of the Torah deserves not only careful reading and study, but continual reflection on its astonishing meaning.
2. Sanctification and desecration of the name
We have already referred to the statement that someone who sacrifices his descendants to Molech profaned the name of God (18:21). The same phrase appears in chapter 19 verse 12 in connection with false swearing. In these contexts, the sentence does not seem to need any explanation. But its full meaning is evident from another passage. Desecrating God's name means damaging his reputation in the non-Israelite world. Hence, the prophet proclaims Ezekiel, who as we saw one
The fact that the people of Judah desecrated the name of God when they were imprisoned in exile is very close to the law of holiness, because the heathen saw the defeat of Judah also as the defeat of the deity of Judah. They believed the people were in exile because their deity was not strong enough to protect them. To restore his reputation, God would now cleanse and restore Israel. When the people are back on their ground, strong and prosperous, then God's name will be "sanctified in the sight of all peoples," that is, the nations will recognize his power and understand that the exile was not the proof of his incapacity, but his unwavering righteousness (Ez 36,16ff.).
This notion has been changed in rabbinic Judaism from a theologically questionable assumption to a powerful moral challenge. The rabbis believed that the reputation of the God of Israel among the Gentiles was not a matter for God but was the responsibility of the people. Jews would have to live in such a way that they win the respect of all humanity for their God. Any behavior that casts public shame on Jews and Judaism is Chillul ha-Shem, a desecration of the divine name, and every act that increases the divinity and prestige of Judaism Kiddush ha-shem, a sanctification of the name.
Robbing a Gentile is therefore a double sin, since in addition to the sin of robbery, the sin of Chillul ha-shem is committed . Every Jew should prefer martyrdom to public violation of a commandment that desecrates the name of God.
Kiddush ha-shem however, has nothing to do with what we call "advertising" or "public relations". It does not mean making yourself popular with the pagans. It requires us to earn the consent of others, whether we actually get it or not. The highest kind of Kiddush ha-shem is to die for one's belief.
3. The Golden Rule
Verse 18 is the culmination of this chapter:
"Love your neighbor as you love yourself." This is one of many versions of a principle that has been called "the Golden Rule" in our day. (It is not known when or by whom this term was coined.) This rule exists in different formulations, positive and negative, but it is always about the fact that the other should be treated exactly as we want to be treated ourselves.
Our section appears to be the oldest written version of this rule. When Hillel was asked at the beginning of the era to briefly summarize the entire Torah, he replied: "What is not dear to you, do not do to your neighbor either" . (This negative form of the golden rule was apparently proverbial at Hillel's time, because it appears almost word for word in the deutero-canonical scripture Tobit .) Jesus of Nazareth, Hillel's younger contemporary, taught that the commandment of Leviticus 19:18 was the second most important after the commandment to love God (Mark 12:28ff.) In the following century Rabbi Akiva called it "the main principle of the Torah" (Sifra).
It is assumed that Confucius taught the golden rule in the negative formulation .A more abstract form of this principle is Kant's "categorical imperative": "Act in such a way that the maxim of your will can at any time also apply as a principle of general legislation." 
Some Christian apologists claimed that the negative formulation of the Golden Rule was on a spiritually lower level than the positive one attributed to Jesus: "Whatever you want people to do to you, do it to them too!" However, they were so eager to forget that the positive phrase first appeared in the Torah. In fact, there is no difference in meaning between the two versions. It has been claimed  that the Golden Rule serves as an assessment criterion. It enables us to agree about a project judge, but do not give us the means to put the project into practice, because this always requires an act of creative imagination. As an assessment criterion, the Golden Rule fulfills its purpose, regardless of whether it is formulated negatively or positively.
Some Christians tried to prove that Jesus' saying was more truthful and universal than its counterpart in Leviticus. They argue that the word "neighbor" in Leviticus (19:18) means the "Israelite neighbor", which is indeed the case, but m.in apparently overlooks the commandment in verse 34, which requires us to to show the same love for a stranger as for a resident of the country and there is no evidence that Jesus had any further perspective .
Such theoretical distinctions are anyway does not matter, because our opportunities to live the Golden Rule are mainly in the context of our relationships with those who are physically close to us, i.e. our neighbors in the literal sense. In ancient times, most people had little idea of events that went beyond their immediate environment. They did not heal a part in the great political and economic decisions, yes, as a rule, they did not know the great events until their results hit them, in the form of immigration, deportations, new tax requirements or the like. Only in the last few centuries, especially in the twentieth century, did the average person get the knowledge, opportunity and duty to practice the Golden Rule on a worldwide horizon / s. Indeed, today we must consider what our commitments are to the Vietnamese, Somalis and Bengalis. But this is something new, and in no way does it make the question of our relationships with our immediate neighbors any less urgent.
A purely technical, if not exact, translation of the verse could read: “You should be yours (le-) Neighbors show love as they do themselves. "This understanding has inspired various commentators to alternative interpretations of the section. They cannot be justified grammatically, because there is a direct object for this construction le- numerous examples in the Bible, but interesting in themselves.
To order? The Torah, Hebrew-German, 5 vols.
Vol. 1, Genesis / Vol. 2, Exodus / Vol. 3, Leviticus /
Vol. 4, Numbers / Vol. 5, Deuteronomy
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