Inquire, Inquire – 4
Mon. June 24, 2019
(21 Sivan 5779)
“Ye shall be holy; for I the L-RD your G-d am holy.”
- Leviticus 19:2, JPS 1917 Tanach
The clarion call for holiness is found at the beginning of parashas Kedoshim: “Ye shall be holy.” The parashas then goes on to list various immoral practices of the nations at that time period, calling upon B’nei Yisrael to refrain from committing such acts. This specific call exemplifies the meaning of the shoresh (root word) of kadosh (holy) – to be separate. Apropos of the entire passage preceded by the call to be holy is the understanding of G-d calling upon the Children of Israel to separate themselves from these practices, thereby distinguishing themselves from the nations, who were immersed in idolatry and immorality.
The same call rings true today, whereas sanctification of an individual is predicated upon separation from sin. Predominantly, in the modern world, outside of religious spheres, the notion of sin is not part of the everyday mentality of the common person. A call to cease from sin, when made amongst the general population would in all likelihood fall upon deaf ears. The word, sin is simply not a part of most people’s vocabulary today. To the extent that it may be recognized, it is often relegated to the “other,” or reframed within the context of questions of morality, that are more theoretical than actual. Yet, Torah is clear, in regard to sanctifying oneself through becoming aware of what constitutes sin, and making a sincere effort to change one’s ways.
Therefore, other than sanctifying time and space, as mentioned previously, the main avodah (service to G-d) is the sanctification of our very lives. This is the question that religion answers: how to transcend the mundane in order to perfect oneself for the sake of pleasing G-d, who only wants the best for us. It is not enough to conform to the ethical norm of society; G-d’s standards are higher. It is not enough to aspire towards any type of utopia that the world has to offer, whether political, technological, or environmental. G-d’s promises are all-encompassing, inclusive of these three different types of utopia.