Thought of the Week: Acharei Mos-Kedoshim - 5777


What defines a holy person? This question is a very important one, since we are told in Pareshat Kedoshim to be holy. Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman, commonly known as Nachmanides, in his commentary explains that being holy is not to just follow the rules presented in the Torah. He explains that a person of desire could be passionately addicted to all kinds of activities and behaviors and at the same time claim that they are all technically permissible. He adds that following the letter of the law while violating its spirit, makes a person a ‘naval birshut haTorah’–a degenerate within the confines of the Torah.

Yet, at the same time, we know that making the blessing on wine Friday night is called Kiddush, from the word Kaddosh or holiness. We clearly see that part of being holy is not to refrain from the world, but rather to use it. The bottom line is that the Almighty wants us to use the magnificent gifts that exist in the world, but not be controlled by them. Although the glass of wine is the traditional symbol of the idea, it applies to almost everything we do.

Technology, for example, can be used appropriately and even assist us in our service of Hashem. Yet at the same time, it can control us and take us to places we know are not good for our Neshama. The Talmud in Berachot shares with us a teaching of Bar Kappara "What is a brief passage in the bible upon which all fundamental principles of Torah are dependent? In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths”. Being a Torah Jew is not confined to the Synagogue or to the Beit Midrash. Every aspect of life should be imbued with the teachings and values of our tradition.

Shabbat Shalom