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    The extra phrase – K’doshim

    The Torah constantly tells us who is speaking (generally God) and who is being addressed (often Moses, often the people of Israel).

    We expect something similar at the beginning of this week’s reading, but lo and behold, the Torah identifies the audience not as Israel but as “all the congregation of the Children of Israel” (Lev. 19:2).

    What does the text have in mind when it is so specific that it mentions the whole congregation?

    It must have a connection with the message, which is “You shall be holy people”. The extra phrase is there to tell us that every Israelite has two distinguishing marks at the same time – ethnic (everyone is part of the people of Israel) and spiritual (everyone – however secular they seem – is spiritually significant).

    Rav Soloveitchik said that there were two covenants in Jewishness, the covenant of fate (ethnic) and the covenant of faith (spiritual). Sometimes a Jew emphasises one aspect, sometimes the other, but the best way to be is a synthesis.

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