Parshat Acharei-Kedoshim: Life with a purpose (II)

“After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their statutes.” (Leviticus 18:3)

The book of Leviticus is a constant reiteration of the kind of relationship the Creator wants with us. The entire reason for the Exodus from Egypt was the establishment of such relationship, hence God wants us to relate to Him through the traits and attributes we share with Him.

This verse illustrates the point by telling us what does not relate ourselves to God. The ways of the Egyptians that the children of Israel suffered, as well as the traits of the Canaanite nations, are not the means to approach life but the ways to destroy the best in it. We have mentioned often that our oral tradition relates those nations with the lowest traits and trends in human consciousness.

Envy, lust, arrogance, indifference, indolence, coveting and anger, and their negative expressions are the enslaving traps usually turned into attachments, addictions and obsessions that lead us to destruction. By signaling them, God makes us aware that their opposites are our true freedom, for goodness is the link of our connection with Him. As we have also said, goodness rules itself as the ethical principle that gives meaning and purpose to God’s creation.

“Ye shall therefore keep My statutes, and My ordinances; which if a man do, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” (18:5)

Goodness is by which we live.

“Turn ye not to the idols, nor make for yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.” (19:3)

Idols and false gods exist only in our imagination, triggered by desires, fantasies and illusions derived from an egocentric approach to life. Thus we understand “make for yourselves”. As we get angered by the arrogance to covet, lust and envy, these ultimately become the idols that we serve and depend on. At some point in life we must realize that anything not good to us and to others sooner or later takes what is most precious to us, which is the freedom we enjoy in goodness.

“But I have said to you, ‘Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey’. I am the Lord your God, who have set you apart from the peoples.” (20:24)

We have mentioned often that the Promised Land is a life that is lived in goodness, as the milk and honey for which God brought us from Egypt. In this context we understand that God set us apart from the nations to live, experience and rejoice in the goodness that makes sense to life, in order for us to also make the nations aware of what goodness is about. Being “the light for the nations” is just that, for light is an abstract representation of goodness.

The many portions in the book of Leviticus repeatedly command us to be sacred, for God our God is sacred, hence is not difficult to equate sacredness to goodness, for both are inherent in each other.

Our individual and collective challenge is to effectively remove negative traits and trends in consciousness as the “nations” God commanded us to remove from the Promised Land, for goodness does not dwells or cohabit with anything different from its ways and attributes. As we refine and direct our intellect, mind, thoughts, feelings, emotions and instincts by, in, with and for goodness, we will begin to savor the milk and honey than only goodness can provide.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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