K’doshim reiterates many of the laws already announced, particularly in Mishpatim. There is a different emphasis now, reflected in the name of the parsha, i.e. holiness. “You must be holy, since I am God your Lord and I am holy,” God tells Moses. The ethical weight of the laws is palpable and again there is an insistence on justice, fairness and compassion. “Do not falsify measurements… Do not curse, even the deaf… Do not pick the incompletely formed grape clusters……the above must be left for the poor and the stranger.” Not harvesting every single ear of corn nor every grape has an ecological meaning now, over and above the original consideration given to the needy. Today’s super-mechanised harvesting techniques mean that nothing falls to nourish birds, dormice and other creatures in the period when they need to store fat for the winter to come.

The parsha is punctuated with a refrain reminding the people of the holiness of God and the holiness they are being expected to share in. And this leads naturally to Emor and the even higher level of holiness demanded of the priests. The rules governing their behaviour are followed by those marking out the most holy periods of the year, starting with Shabbat and continuing through the festivals from Pesach to…. Well, to reach the end, you should come to the service on Saturday at 10.30. Pat Lipert will be leading the service.

This Thursday is Yom Ha-Atzma’ut, Israel Independence Day.