Is there a Great Architect?

Parashat Kedoshim begins in Vayikra 19:1-2:  “יהוה spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the entire Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy (kadosh), for I, your GOD יהוה, am holy.”  Another way of saying this is: “Tell all the Israelites that they are to be a people wholly (entirely) separated (kadosh) from the other nations because I, your God, am separate from all the other gods.”

How can we tell the difference between this one God YHVH and the rest?

Imagine that you are the architect of a beautiful new building. It contains everything that anyone could ever need to live in comfort and safety and is within our means. Then suddenly someone else comes along and criticizes it, telling everyone that they have a better building and that they should ignore that first building and move to this new and improved one. The images of it seem magnificent on the outside but soon after moving in, some major flaws hidden in the small print become apparent. By this time, we are trapped in a contract we never bargained for. We were blinded to the truth, perhaps we didn’t want to see or we simply didn’t do our homework.

There’s a difference between the two architects.  One tells us straight while the other is deceptive but in time, all things are revealed to be true or false.  When we get married, the character of the person we marry is revealed over time and that’s how we learn to trust them and love them more …or the opposite.

The great Architect of this planet, יהוה has been revealing Himself to mankind since Adam and Eve. The Torah teaches us about His character – through His actions, but from the beginning, mankind has preferred to do things their  way and then cries out when they don’t like the consequences of signing the wrong contract.  The terms of the first contract given to Adam and Eve who represented all mankind were simple … “Do not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for on that day you will die.” The next major contract given to all mankind consisted of Ten Terms and here in Kedoshim, we read many applications of these Ten. They are not complicated and their principles are timeless, but like Adam and Eve, we struggle with keeping them.

The first principles are in Leviticus 19 verses 3 and 4: “You shall each revere your mother and your father and keep My sabbaths: I יהוה am your God.” Do not turn to idols or make molten gods for yourselves: I יהוה am your God.”

I wondered why Moses changed the position of the mother, placing her before the father  in the original Ten Commandments. He also changed the position of the Shabbat putting it after the honoring of mother and father and following after false gods which were the second commandment. Were these mistakes or poor memory?

Of course, there are many opinions from our sages but to me, Moses understood the important role of the mother.  She is known to be the backbone of the home. The mother can make or break her family. A wife can make or break her husband. It doesn’t seem fair that such a huge responsibility should fall on her shoulders and perhaps this is the consequence of Eve’s disobedience. I believe that motherhood is so important that it is mentioned here before the Shabbat and having other gods. That is a sobering thought for this society that has placed motherhood at the “bottom of the rung”.  So many women prefer a career over being a stay-at-home mom which brings very few accolades but the repercussions of this resound throughout our modern-day world. We have imposed it upon ourselves in spite of the fact that the Great Architect had something else in mind.

Verses 29 – 31 repeat this pattern concerning the woman, the Sabbath, and false gods.  “Do not degrade your daughter and make her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry and the land be filled with depravity. You shall keep My Shabbats and venerate My sanctuary: I am יהוה. Do not turn to ghosts and do not inquire of familiar spirits, to be defiled by them: I יהוה am your God.”

The Torah sets down the pattern a blueprint for us to follow as any architect would. It remains the same although times and customs change.  Even though a mother lighting the candles on Shabbat is not in the Torah, it depicts that she brings light into the home and the Sabbath is a sign of the existence of the Creator of light while false gods entice us with things that appear to be light but lead us into darkness… “All that glitters is not gold.”

The idea of familiar spirits is repeated in Leviticus 20: verses 6 and 27: “And if any person turns to ghosts and familiar spirits and goes after them, I will set My face against that person, whom I will cut off from among the people.”A man or a woman who has a ghost or a familiar spirit shall be put to death; they shall be stoned—and they shall remain guilty.”

Obviously, in today’s civilized world, we don’t stone people so how do we apply this for us today?  When I was delving deeply into the New Age philosophies, everyone was playing in the spiritual realm. We would meditate and call upon a spirit who would speak to us or through us; it was called channelling. Volumes are written about what these spirits said. Why did the Creator warn us to stay away, upon the threat of death?  I don’t know what spirit was behind those voices from beyond this realm but they would send me on wild goose chases; they would tell me to do things that were not only detrimental to my physical well-being but also to my mental and emotional state to the point that I lost all hope and wanted to die. This is the same spiritual death that Adam and Eve experienced when they were cast out of the Garden of Eden.

This is not what God wants for us. He wants to lead us on the right path. His desire is for us to live a life of balance and prosperity and when I say prosperity, I don’t mean wealth in terms of money but that I would have all I need to live a fulfilled life. After the Torah was written, God spoke to us clearly through His prophets. They heard His voice, saw manifestations of His power and might and warned the Israelites of the consequences of following false gods.

There is a spiritual realm that affects this physical one in ways that we cannot begin to understand. These three commands about honoring mother and father, keeping the Sabbath and staying away from the occult are all Chukkim. They are regulations that we are to obey without necessarily understanding why. We are not gods. There is only ONE GOD. We do not understand the state of the soul. The fourth dimension and beyond are impossible for the human mind to grasp as we are clothed in a three-dimensional physical body so when we are told what to do and what not to do by the Architect of the universe, wouldn’t it be a good idea to listen?

The Great Architect told us in this parashah in Leviticus 20:22-24: “You shall faithfully observe all My Chukkim and all My Mishpatim, lest the land to which I bring you to settle in vomits you out. You shall not follow the practices of the nations that I am driving out before you. For it is because they did all these things that I abhorred them and said to you: You shall possess their land, for I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey. I יהוה am your God who has set you apart (kadosh) from other peoples.”

We are not to be like the other nations….we are set apart, for a reason…not to lord it over the others but to be an example to them.

Our prophet Hosea told us in chapter 4.1 Hear the word of the LORD, you children of Israel, for the LORD has a problem with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land….5 Therefore you shall stumble in the day, and the prophet also shall stumble with you at night; and I will destroy your mother. 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected the Torah of your God, I will also reject you…”  The mother will be destroyed because we have rejected His Torah, the Five Books of Moses, the Ten Commandments. It sounds way too harsh but we are held to a higher standard than the other nations because we are His Chosen People. When we reject God and His Commandments, we can no longer be a light to the nations and the entire world suffers!

This is what our history teaches us… we disobeyed and went into exile to Babylon. In the book of Ezra, as our prophet Jeremiah had prophesied, we would return after seventy years of exile. In Nehemiah 9, after the Persian King Darius sent him to rebuild Jerusalem, we read that Ezra opened the scroll in the sight of all the people. When they heard the words of the Torah, they wept. I highly recommend that we all read chapters 8 and 9 of Nehemiah. They clearly sum up the history of our people and speak of how time and again we defied our God, we rebelled, and we cast away God’s Teachings; we killed His prophets who warned us to return to Him.  God delivered us into the hands of our enemies who were oppressing us. In our time of trouble, we cried to God who heard us from heaven and in His abundant compassion sent us “moshi’im” who saved us from our enemies. But when we had relief, again we did what was evil in God’s sight and so the cycle repeated time and time again.

This past week we visited the anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian encampment at McGill University and spoke with several people. I witnessed the brainwashing that is taking place and felt what it must have been like in 1936 when the Nazis were coming to power. I was so distraught and angry that I felt like I wanted to call down God’s fire from heaven to destroy these people. The emotion was so visceral and so deeply distressing that I had to beg God to remove it from my soul. I had to remember that vengeance belongs to God because He knows the heart of every human being. I cannot imagine living with such hatred 24 hours a day.

But as horrible a scene as this was for me, I know from God’s Book that no enemy can touch our people when we turn our hearts back to Him. Instead of boasting about being a proud Jew or following heavy traditions that God does not ask of us, let us humble ourselves and admit our wrongdoings and stubborn pride.

LORD, we have done wrong; we, Your people, have turned our backs on Your Mitzvot, Your Chukkim and Your Mishpatim; we have replaced Your Torah with our own rules and regulations. We have not honored our mother and father; we have ignored your Shabbats and we have worshipped false gods. I ask that You, our Great Architect would hear our cries, forgive our trespasses, and open blind eyes and deaf ears so that we may keep the promise that we made to you at Mount Sinai: “All that You have said, we will do!” Then no one can ever harm us again, our land will be safe and the world will live in peace and harmony. Amen

Shabbat Shalom

Peggy Pardo