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Rabbi's Corner

Acharei: “I’ll Never Make it Anyway” (adapted from Rabbi L. Gurkow)

 "You shall be holy" for I (G‑d) am holy" - Parsha of Acharei Mos

(Perhaps we’ll talk about what ‘holy’ means at a different time.)

This sentence will be read aloud in synagogue tomorrow morning and our sages tell us: “Though we are encouraged to reach for G‑d's holiness, it will always remain beyond us.”

What an encouraging thought! "Try to reach me but know that you never really will". A bit disheartening?

Perhaps we can appreciate this statement by way of example. When a parent teaches their child to walk they will place the child on the floor and stand a little distance away. They then reach to the child, encourage him to take his first step and thus reach his parent. Encouraged by the thought, the child happily takes the step. Seeing this, the parent takes two steps back hoping the child will follow.

A mature child (like mine:)) will stop and wonder why his parent would foster an allusion of nearness, only to later retreat? Why does he ask me to take a step forward only to become elusive once again?

But, of course, a parent is looking to teach their child something more: it is not important to reach your goal, it is important to walk on your own. This simple, yet incredible, piece of information will enable the child to take a lifetime of forward steps.

Our Father in heaven interacts in a similar fashion. As we strive to better ourselves, to educate ourselves, and to become more G‑dly, the end can seem elusive. We  work so hard to tame our lusts, emotions, addictions, etc. And just when we think we’ve reached a milestone; we’re about to conquer and take control, another hurdle presents itself. “I’ll never make it to the top”, we confess.

This week’s reading should give the strength persevere. After all, the goal is the journey itself. Like a loving father, G‑d wants to see us walk.

A lifelong journey begins with one simple step. Let’s take that one step and do one more mitzvah

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Mendy Shanowitz - New York Hebrew

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