Printed from NYHebrew.org

Be Holy!

Thursday, 26 April, 2018 - 2:10 pm

The section of the Torah we read tomorrow begins with the divine instruction for Jewish People to “Be Holy”.

So I ask you, how should we go about fulfilling this mitzvah? What does “be holy” mean? Does G‑d want us to trek through the Himalayas or meditate daily for hours? 

This short lesson in Biblical Hebrew 101 will perhaps shed some light on this important issue:

The Hebrew word for ‘holy’ is ‘kadosh’. However, a more literal translation of ‘kadosh’ would be ‘separate’. This is because something is holy when it is set aside from the mundane and in a sphere of its own. (Interestingly, this is why, in biblical Hebrew, a prostitute is called a ‘kadesh’. Because the prostitute has set him/herself aside for a specific purpose.) 

Bearing this in mind, we find an entirely new meaning to the mitzvah “Be Holy”. As Jews, G‑d wants us to act in a fashion that separates and elevates us. This means that in every moment of our daily lives – while eating, walking, conversing, or sleeping - we need to ask ourselves “Is this the way a Jew; a representative of Al-mighty G‑d, should behave?” And if the answer is yes – then we’re holy. And when people look at us they can exclaim: “If this is the way a Jewish person behaves, I want to learn more about his G‑d”.

And in fact, this week’s torah portion proceeds to enumerate tens of mitvzahs that ensure that we maintain this beautiful standard of “holiness & separateness”. (Among them: honesty in business, sexual morality, charity, Shabbat, justice for all, click here for more.)  

So as we enter this special Shabbat I encourage you to take a peek at the Torah portion and try adding one extra mitzvah to your repertoire.

Shabbat Shalom,

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