The portion begins with G-d’s command to the entire nation of Israel to be holy, emulating the supreme sanctity of G-d Himself. The Torah goes on to delineate a multitude of mitzvos through which we can achieve sanctity. We are commanded to revere our parents, to guard Shabbat from being desecrated, and to refrain from the worship of idols. G-d instructs us to leave various gifts from our harvest for the poor and downtrodden, including the edge of the field and the sheaves which were unintentionally dropped while being gathered. We must maintain justice, have honest dealings with our neighbors, refrain from gossip, not stand by while another’s life is in danger, and not hate another in our heart.
One of the most famous mitzvos in the Torah appears in this week’s portion: “You shall love your friend as yourself.” We are commanded to admonish our neighbor if he does wrong, and forbidden to take revenge or bear a grudge. The portion continues with a listing of the punishments to be meted out against people who transgress and participate in various forbidden relationships. Parshas Kedoshim concludes with the commandment, once again, that we be a holy and distinct people from among the nations of the world.