Holiness is overrated, Kedushah is not. The news tells us what is happening, the Torah tells us how to relate to all that transpires ...
DON'T BE HOLY!
We are directed by this weeks' Torah portion "Kedoshim Tihiyu", always translated as "You shall be Holy".
The English word "holy" indicates G-dly, otherworldly, a state of being that is fundamentally different from the norms of everyday life. Indeed, the OED indicates that the etymology is derived from the same root as "wholly" -something entirely dedicated to G-d.
However if we turn to that which this weeks' Torah describes as "Kadosh" (holy) , we notice that mixed in with laws about the Temple and the like (your typical "holy" stuff) we have laws about leaving a portion of our fields to the poor and laws about not lying to each other. We have laws about the Sabbath -and one of the most important precepts of "keeping the Shabbat' is to make sure we enjoy ourselves, physically, on that day -it is an obligation. We have laws about an absolute obligation to aid an innocent 3rd party being attacked and laws against bearing grudges and engaging in vendettas.
These laws are not about matters devoted to the Divine and the spiritual alone. They are about managing the realties of our everyday life in a "Kodesh" manner.
The actual meaning of the Hebrew Word "Kodesh" is "separated". However, it means separated in the sense of refinement. When we refine something we separate the substance we desire from extraneous substances that have are mixed in with it.
All the things that are "Kodesh" are the ordinary events and stuff of life, remaining so, but separated from undesirable elements that would dilute and weaken them.
So the doctrine of "Kodesh" declares: "Don't abandon the world and everyday life -refine it"
Kodesh tells us:
Don't eschew business and live out of dumpsters -but separate all dishonesty and fuzziness from your marketing.
Don't hesitate to appreciate a really nice wine - but separate it from the rest of your bottles and save it for Shabbat
Don't live in as state of dreamy oblivion as to your neighbors' shortcomings -confront them as necessary - but separate the momentary experience out of your long term "ledger" and don't bear grudges.
Don't strangle ambition, indeed strive to attain economic success, but - separate out the impurities of greed and arrogance and you will be left with gratitude to G-d and generosity to those who lack.
Don't get close to G-d by leaving your everyday life, get close by bringing G-d in to your everyday life. We bring G-d into the places in our being cleared by separating out the "impurities" -the negative character traits, the selfishness, and the shallowness.
So, don't be holy, make your life "Kadosh".
(Rabbi) Yedidiah Shapira
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