Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kedoshim- Being Holy


K’doshim tihyu ki kadosh Ani, A-donai Ehloheikhem
You will be holy for I, A-donai your God, am holy. (Vayikra 29:2)
As a people, we have always been expected to be holy. But what exactly does it mean to be holy. The Nevi’im spoke to the Israelites of sacrifices and rituals that were meaningless without deretz eretz and caring for other people. As Rabbi Hertz states in his commentary, “Holiness is thus not so much an abstract or a mystic idea, as a regulative principle in the everyday lives of men and women.” Parashat Kedoshim begins with this admonition, and continues with explanation of what it means to be holy. Ritual and intimate connection to God is a piece, but equally important is how we interact with those around us. Holiness can only be accomplished in relation to others.
All mitzvot are divided into two types: mitzvot bein adam la’chavero and mitzvot bein adam laMakom. That is mitzvot that come from the interactions between individuals and mitzvot which are based upon an individual’s interaction with God. However, there is no separation between the sacred and the profane. Every action, not just mitzvot, brings us the opportunity for holiness. All actions bring us into the Divine sphere. All actions, all mitzvot bein adam la’chavero are also mitzvot bein adam laMakom. We cannot interact with God when we do not interact positively with each other and with our environment. For Torah, for tradition, there can be no separation between the sacred and the profane. To be holy requires that we be thoughtful in all our words and deeds. Not to care for others removes the Divine from our actions. It limits our ability to act b’tzelem Ehlohim, in the image of God. Parashat Kedoshim reminds us that our actions matter, and that through them we strive to attain this holiness.