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Kedoshim: Yesterday is Better than Today

Friday, 6 May, 2016 - 12:13 pm

 "Do not make for yourselves gods out of cast metal" This is one of the Mitzvot/divine instructions that we learn about in this week's portion.

When reading this, one comes to an obvious question: How could an intelligent person believe that a piece of metal is god? We could perhaps appreciate how ancient pagan societies attributed divine qualities to powerful, transcendent forces of nature, like the Zodiac signs, the sun, the moon, various galaxies, the wind, etc. But why would a thoughtful human being believe god could be fashioned out of cast metal? And most importantly, how does this commandment have relevance today?

There is a beautiful interpretation of these words, which is profoundly relevant to the human psyche in all times:

This biblical verse is telling us "not to construct a god of a lifestyle that has become like "cast metal" cast and solidified in a fixed mold.

A natural human tendency is to worship that which we have become comfortable with. We worship our habits, patterns, attitudes, routines and inclinations simply because we have accustomed ourselves to them and they are part of our lives. People love that which does not surprise them; we want to enjoy a god that suits our philosophical and emotional paradigms and comfort zones. We tend to embrace the fixed, unchangeable and permanent molten god.

Comes the Torah and says: Do not turn your consolidated mold into your god. Do not turn your habits, natural patterns of thought, fears or addictions into a deity. Life is about spiritual growth. Never say, "This is the way I am; this is the way I do things, I cannot change." Rather, we must muster the courage to challenge every instinct, temptation and habit. Let our life not become enslaved to a particular pattern just because it has been that way for many years or decades.

Everyday, when we wake up, we have an obligation to ask ourselves: "How is today going to be better than yesterday? What am I going to do today that will make me closer to G‑d - the real G‑d? What new mitzvah am I going to do or which mitzvah am I going to do better?"

May we all live such a life and grow from strength to strength in our closeness to G‑d!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Mendy Shanowitz

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