One of the most spiritual statements in Judaism is in this week’s Torah portion, Kedoshim. With the words, “Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2), we are instructed to emulate God by rising above our animal and material desires and connect to the spiritual.
How do we accomplish this?
In Leviticus 20:7-21, we are told that one of the most important ways to be holy is to sanctify ourselves by controlling our most base animal instinct, an indiscriminate and uncontrolled sex urge. Some of the prohibited relations include sex with close relatives and adultery.
The Jewish people’s relationship with God is likened to a marriage. As it says, “I will betroth you to Me FOREVER, I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.” (Hosea 2:19-21)
The Torah is our marriage contract and maintaining sanctified relationships alludes to our loyalty to God.
Someone who commits adultery and is unfaithful to one’s spouse creates distance, animosity, and separation. In the same way, idolatry is compared to adultery because worshiping something other than God breaks our covenant relationship with Him. Jeremiah states this clearly, “they broke my covenant, though I was a HUSBAND to them, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:32).
Both Hosea and Jeremiah state that God’s commitment to the Jewish people is forever and despite our infidelity, God will always remain a faithful husband. God promises us, “I will not violate my covenant” (Psalm 89:34) or “break my covenant” (Leviticus 26:44).
Only we can break the covenant by being unfaithful; however, we can also repair it through repentance, “If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored” (Job 22:23).
However, in the messianic age, we will rise to a higher level. God will transform our animal natures (centered in our heart) to holiness, and we will no longer have an urge to be “unfaithful” to God. Jeremiah refers to this as a New Covenant.
This New Covenant will not replace the original. Instead, it will renew and enhance the original so that even the Jewish people will not be able to break it because of God’s direct intervention, “I will give you a new heart… and cause you to follow My laws and faithfully to observe My rules” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Missionaries regularly refer to the New Testament as the New Covenant. However, in a glaring discrepancy, the New Testament intentionally misrepresents Jeremiah 31:32 statement and instead of saying that God remained a “husband” to the Jewish people, the New Testament claims that God “turned away from (rejected) them” (Hebrews 8:9).
This negative connotation contradicts everything mentioned in the Torah and was inserted to give the impression that God has forsaken the Jews, as the author of Hebrews says, “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” (Hebrew 8:13).
History has confirmed that our spiritual connection with God is eternal.
A beautiful allusion to this is found in the Torah. Proverbs 20:27 compares the soul of a Jew to a flame by stating, "the soul of man is the candle of God," and the flame of Judaism is compared to the fire burning on the altar that will never go out, as it says, “a perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar” (Leviticus 6:6).
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz