In Judaism, Holiness Is as Holiness Does

The fire at the core of Leviticus.

March 30, 2017 | David Wolpe
About the author: David Wolpe is rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and the author of, among other books, Why be Jewish? and Why Faith Matters. He can be found on Twitter @RabbiWolpe.


When most people think of Leviticus, they think of a book that is about Temple sacrifices and little or nothing else. Indeed, the ancient rabbis named it the “Teaching of the Priests,” and early Gentile translators concurred in giving us its current name, which means “having to do with the Levites”—that is, those responsible, along with the priests or kohanim, for carrying out the Temple service. Even the narrative portions, relatively scant as they are compared with any of the other five books of Moses, concern themselves primarily with the bringing of sacrificial offerings.

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