Thursday, April 28, 2011

Parashat Kedoshim - פרשת קדושים

Downtown Jerusalem: Where is the Kedusha (Holiness) ?

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Right at the beginning of this week's Torah Parashat KEDOSHIM, G - d announces that He wants to see the Jews HOLY because He is their G - d. Afterwards we are facing a long long list with all different kind of Mitzvot.

What makes those Mitzvot holy and how can we become holy through keeping them ?
G – d gave us the Mitzvot in His Torah in order to proclaim His will. Otherwise we, as finite humans, wouldn't know what an infinite being called "G - d" actually wants from us. Thus, the Mitzvot are a manifestation of G - d to show us His will. 

But how can there be real "Kedusha - Holiness" in our physical world ? When we look around, we may not see too much of this holiness but rather the opposite.  

A former Rebbe of Chassidut Gur, Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847 – 1905), commentated that the holiness in our world is hidden. However, G - d wants us to be aware of the Kedusha in this world even if we cannot see it with our own eyes. Signs for the holiness in our world can we find in the Torah Mitzvot. They hint to the point that there is much more to this world than we are able to realize.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (1865 – 1935) wrote that holiness can be found in the most worldly matters. Eating and drinking, for example. Before and after we eat and drink, we say blessings (Berachot) in order to thank G - d for creating and providing us with nourishment. We don't actually thank Him for the pleasure but for creating the food. By blessing Him, we also acknowledge His existence as well as His entire creation.

The Baal Shem Tov saw in everything on earth a spark of holiness, as everything has its spiritual, totally perfect, counterpart in the upper spiritual worlds. 

There is no doubt that the Torah Mitzvot lead us to the way of perfecting ourselves. Even if we start with small things and not by running into all the Mitzvot at once. There are indeed various Mitzvot we don't understand and cannot graps their purpose. Some Mitzvot such as SHATNETZ are supposed to be for the future. Not that we only keep them in the future but that we will understand its meaning in the future to come.

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