Friday, April 23, 2021

Seeking Holiness

One of the fundamental tenets of Judaism is for us to be a holy people. When G-d propositioned the Jewish People to accept the Torah, it was for us to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This week's Parsha (the second Parsha) begins with the mandate for us to be a holy people. In fact, G-d tells us to be holy because He is holy. That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. There are a lot of things that G-d can do that we cannot. G-d is infinite, and we are finite. G-d is eternal, and we are all mortal beings who will die. So the nagging question is, why should we be holy because G-d is holy? After all, there are plenty of differences between an eternal, infinite, and Almighty G-d and a frail human being!! This issue touches upon why the human being was created and why the Jewish People embraced G-d's mission with accepting the Torah. The purpose of this was to infuse Godliness into a world that was mundane and physical. That is the general purpose of the Mitzvos. It is to infuse Godliness and Holiness into everyday life. Although this may be applicable in many areas, there are two areas where the Torah emphasizes connecting Holiness to the particular Mitzvah. Those two areas are the prohibitions to consume non-kosher foods and to engage in forbidden sexual activity. In terms of food, one can wonder what it is that makes bacon unkosher and brisket kosher (when it's appropriately prepared)? It's not because brisket is cleaner, necessarily on a physical level. Instead, every food has spiritual properties as it has physical properties. The spiritual properties of non-kosher food are so corrosive to someone's soul that one should abstain from it as one would abstain from physically toxic foods. On the other hand, Kosher food is embedded with these spiritual properties that have Holiness and enhance our spirituality and soul. Similarly, with sexuality, there are spiritual properties in the relationship. When a man and woman come together under a chuppah their relationship is infused with Holiness and their home now has Godliness embedded in its walls. A sexual relationship outside the confines of the Chupa may consist of two consenting adults, but it falls way short of bringing Holiness into one's home. There are popular arguments for love and equality but Judaism subscribes to a higher value in sexuality, and that is Holiness. Just as in Kosher, there are spiritual properties with the sexual confines of relationship and we have a mandate to live within that higher realm.   There are so many different labels that are used to identify us today.  People sometimes struggle as to how to identify themselves within the Jewish community. I would humbly suggest going back to the original proposition of Judaism that G-d made to our ancestors and seek to embrace Holiness. Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

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