There is a misconception that the Torah concerns itself primarily with ritual matters, but as we see in this week’s reading, that’s not the case.

This week we have yet again another double Torah portion: Acharei Mot and Kedoshim (Leviticus 16:1-20:27). In this week’s UWI Torah dispatch we will focus on the portion of Kedoshim, which means, “You Shall be Holy.” This is why the portion of Kedoshim deals with dozens of different moral directives that we are obligated to observe.

Indeed, there is a misconception that the Torah concerns itself primarily with ritual matters, but as we see in this week’s reading, that’s not the case. The Torah concerns itself equally as much, or more, with issues between man and his fellow man. Indeed, to be “Holy” you must be kind to others.

One of the most famous of these moral directives in Kedoshim is: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). The great sage Rabbi Akiva taught us that “this is a major tenet of the Torah.”

There is a famous Midrash (rabbinic literature) about several people traveling together on a small boat. One of the passengers began drilling a hole in the boat under his seat. Of course, the other passengers on the boat panicked. “What are doing!!” they asked. “It’s none of your business” the driller responded. “I am only drilling under my spot, not yours!” Obviously, his answer was ridiculous because when water enters the boat, everyone drowns.

The message: Everyone is important. Every person counts. One person’s actions affect the entire group, and sometimes, the entire world. We must always work together. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The Jewish people are one soul made up of many bodies.

Let us take the boat parable and use it to impact others in a positive manner. Let’s talk about building boats so that others can come along for the ride! Let’s talk about accomplishing all kinds of things together for the benefit of Israel, the Jewish people and the world. Let’s talk about projects for our young soldiers, building bomb shelters for those under fire from Hamas rockets, planting trees, building parks for children to play in. Perhaps this is what Rabbi Akiva’s meant when he said that loving your neighbor as yourself is a major aspect of the Torah: It is a major aspect because it is the glue of unity. When we love one another, when we respect one another, when we work together with one another we can accomplish the world.

There are many areas in life in which we can unite, whether it’s through acts of kindness, Torah observance, or being UNITED WITH ISRAEL. Indeed, working together for Israel is one of the things that crosses all borders, boundaries, denominations and religions. That’s what Israel is all about. Working to help build a free and democratic world for all its citizens regardless of race, religion, or political affiliations. Join us! Support us! We’re all in the same boat together.

Shabbat Shalom from Israel!