Parshat Kedoshim – “The Meaning of Holiness"



People don’t like to hear it much less think this way, but I tend to believe it is true that we should expect life not to be particularly easy or happy or fulfilling, at least such things shouldn’t be taken as the norm.  If we don’t expect ease and comfort, we prepare ourselves to really enjoy and be grateful for all the good stuff that does happen when nothing says we should have any at all.


In this week’s portion in which we are told, “be holy for the Lord your God is holy” a similar question confronts us in trying to understand what this says to us.  Here we are, human beings, living our lives, doing our thing, what does it mean to have to be holy?  Holiness gets associated with synagogues and prayer books and lots of prayers and things that aren’t “normal life.”  


Perhaps, we would be better served as thinking of ourselves and the world as all being holy, that holiness is in fact the default setting, and that the interruptions are all the mundane and seemingly “non-holy” things we fill our day with, and not the other way around.


What would this vantage point show us?  Much like with our opening example which would teach us to appreciate the good when it comes because we may end up having a lot of bad, the “everything is holy” view would allow us to see the real human connections, the real transcendent moments, the real presence of the divine, in all moments and everything we do.  Everything would become more beautiful, more meaningful, more special, more holy, in other words.  Rather than trying to squeeze enough holiness to sustain us from the occasional or even frequent trip to synagogue, we could instead find it everywhere and at all times, nourishing and fortifying our souls with that which makes life alive. 


“Be holy” we are told – perhaps we already are!

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