Parshas Kedoshim - Love your Friends, Love your Torah

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This weeks Parsha is Kedoshim, Holy. So it would make sense that the Parsha discusses how long you have to pray for or how much Torah to study, because those are the things that make a person “holy”, right? But that is not the case. This parsha is most famously known for the commandments about how we must interact with others – telling us not to take revenge, to honor our parents, and most famously the commandment of V’Ahavta L’reiacha K’mocha – to love your fellow as you love yourself. So it seems that the Parsha telling us to be holy isn’t what everyone else tells us we need to do to be holy, the Torah places an emphasis on the relationship we have with our friends, that it’s about being compassionate and caring for our brother. The Midrash on Parshas Lech Lecha tells us “Derech Eretz Kadma L’Torah” that being a kindhearted person precedes the Torah. This is not to say that Torah and Tefillah have no part in our Avodas Hashem but that the main factor in being a Holy Jew is to interact with others around us properly. The same principle of Derech Eretz Kadma L’Torah is a reason why many people have the custom to learn pirkei avos during sefirah – because to accept the Torah on Shavuos we have to work on ourselves and make ourselves Holy in a real way, by loving every Jew wherever they stand. As it says in Avos “Love the world and bring them closer to Torah” (1:12) through love, compassion and caring for others we become holy, and through being Holy as God commanded us, “You should be Holy” (19:2), we come to receive the Torah in all its holiness.