The land of Israel belongs to God, the earth as a whole is a creation of God, and we are instructed to take care of this precious gift on loan to us. You could think of this as “God’s house, God’s rules.” The rules don’t always make sense, and some of them may need adapting over time, but they were put into place for a reason.
Our modern-day synagogues have replaced the ancient Temple in Jerusalem as gathering places, and I would argue the local coffee shop of my youth played a similar role. These moments served to bring people together, and the Torah suggests that in doing so, we create a deeper, richer, more balanced Jewish life for ourselves.
When it came to body piercing (and ear piercing), my dad’s argument had always been that the Torah says we don’t pierce or permanently change our bodies. However, the takeaway from Parshat Kedoshim is really how the Torah reminds us of the importance of positive body image.
Kids grasp the idea of fairness (and unfairness) early on. Toys, food, time - if any of it isn't perfectly equal, they will let you know. We learn in our parshah this week about balance. In other words, what we give to our own earthly desires, like time, money and energy, we should also give equally in service to God, or our faith-based life.
The Torah mandates that our living spaces are safe. Whether this means making sure we are lead or asbestos free, or that our homes have safety measures in place for fires or other destructive forces, it is imperative that we are creating warm, loving, and safe environments for our children to grow in.
I’m certain I’m not the only woman to have sworn off childbirth while in the pain of labor or the recovery after a C-section. However, whether in regard to childbirth or any physically or emotionally draining experience, the Torah gives us the ability to atone for our poor choices, even our choice of words.
Going through the potty-training process with two kids has taught me a lot about positive and negative reactions as parents. One of the biggest lessons for us has been the need to show some emotional self-control in order to keep up the positive reinforcement. Our parshah this week reminds us that emotion is a two-way street.