60 Seconds of Torah: Parashat Aharei Mot-Kedoshim
Individual values are constructed by way of communal association, in this case the value of acknowledging the common fact of human shortcoming, and the communal need to turn a new page. It may be a powerful experience to confess sin privately, but the Jewish ethic from the Bible to our contemporary Yom Kippur services seems to be that we engage in these rituals as a community. There is a reason, the rabbis explain, why our Torah reading devoted to personal ethics, Kedoshim, begins in the plural – Kedoshim t’hiyu, “You (plural) shall be holy.” While values can only be held by individuals, they are shaped, inculcated, reinforced, and passed on by communities. We need both, the individual and the community. Too much of one leads to inertia and anonymity, whereas too much of the other leads to fragmentation and isolation. It is a balancing act this week and every week of our lives.