There are meaningful times in the Torah when the Creator “defines” Himself to us. Most of the times it seems enough to read “I am the Lord”. When we read that He is holy, we reflect on the commandments that precede such statement in the Torah.
“Speak to the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy (kedoshim), because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)
While we read these commandments in the context of His holiness, let’s reflect on some of them in this portion.
“You shall not turn to the idols, nor shall you make molten deities for yourselves. I am the Lord, your God.” (19:4)
Idols are ego’s materialistic fantasies and illusions we give priority over love’s ways and attributes. Idols and molten deities are some of the translations of terms that originally mean “masks” that hide the real essence of who we are: love as our true identity.
Masks as darkness to cover the original light from which we were created, hence it is us who place darkness over the light we are. Masks and idols exist because we make them for ourselves as the verse says. In this sense we create our individual reality as the reflection of our own creation.
From this individual and also collective reality (because ego’s illusions and fantasies are common among people that usually call them glamour, sophistication, class, taste, ideology, belief, tradition, social “values”, and other cultural definitions) derive what the Torah calls idols as the root of ideas and feelings of lack that separate us from our true identity.
This eventually leads us to do what separates us from the holiness of love.
“You shall not steal. You shall not deny falsely. You shall not lie, one man to his fellow.” (19:11)
“You shall not swear falsely by My Name, thereby profaning the Name of your God. I am the Lord.” (19:12)
As long as we live without the awareness of God’s love as our Creator and sustenance, we all live in lies and that make us thieves because all liars are thieves.
When we are blessed with talents and the potential for acquiring material riches, we must be aware that all we are and have is given by the love of God. Thus, what we are and have is meant to be shared with others who have less.
This is God’s love’s dynamics in order to empower us to create a better world for all, and this is the meaning of the verse.
“And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you collect the individual grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord, your God.” (19:10)
In this awareness are able to understand the cornerstone commandment of the Torah.
“You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (19:18)
When we ultimately grasp that all in God’s creation is part of His oneness, we will understand separation as the result of following the idols created by ego’s fantasies and illusions. We can conceive and fully experience this oneness through the awareness of our permanent connection to the love of the Creator in a time and a space called the Shabbat and the Temple of Jerusalem.
“You shall observe My shabbats and revere My sanctuary. I am the Lord.” (19:30)
Once we are able to know and experience God’s love as our essence and true identity, we will fulfill the commandment that makes us unique because we are part of Him.
“And you shall be holy to Me, because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have distinguished you from the peoples, to be Mine.” (20:26)