Be Holy: sanctify Hashem’s Name!

Whilst the level of holiness varies according to the ‘levels’ of the individual, it is equally binding on all - Netivot Shalom.

Danny Ginsbourg, | updated: 08:36

Judaism Danny Ginsbourg
Danny Ginsbourg
We read in our parsha:(19:1-2)’Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying; Speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and say to them: קדשים תהיו:You shall be holy, כי קדוש אני ה׳ אלקיכם:for holy am I, Hashem, your G-d’.

The parshanim, noting that, unusually, this mitzvah is addressed to ‘the entire assembly’, derive two important lessons as to ‘holiness’, in Judaism, in which it differs from the concept in other religions.

First, that it is required of every Jew; and, second, that it is to be performed ‘in the midst’ of people, not in seclusion.

As to the first lesson, the Netivot Shalom expounds: Whilst the level of holiness varies according to the ‘levels’ of the individual, it is equally binding on all; לכל יהודי יש שייכות לזה: all have a ‘connection’ to it.

As to the second lesson, the Chatam Sofer comments, that whilst an individual may attain greater heights of ‘closeness’ to Hashem, by devoting himself in seclusion to contemplating the loftiest spiritual matters, he is commanded to be ‘connected’, and in the midst, of others, even if this might ‘lessen’ his attainment of perfection.

What does ‘holiness’ require? 

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch states that it requires a Jew to use all his G-d given talents and resources, in accordance with the Will of Hashem, to do good.

He concludes: You are all capable, indeed obligated, to be ‘holy’, because ‘holy am I, your G-d’; and I have infused your souls with my Spirit; and, being ‘your G-d’, I am constantly aiding you to do that which is good.

Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl adds: Because of the Divine part in each Jew, we all have קדושה within us; our task is therefore two-fold: one, to ensure that we desist from actions which ‘block’ this קדושה from operating; and, second, to strive to do deeds which will allow our inherent קדושה to be revealed, and to flourish.

And, if we do ‘our’ part, Hashem, for His part, will surely ensure that we become קדשים.

Rav Nebenzahl notes that our conduct can also impact on the קדושה of המקום: a place: Whilst בתי כנסת have an inherent קדושה, if we speak and learn דברי תורה within its walls, we increase its קדושה; but, if חלילה we speak דברים בטלים: mundane matters, we מחלל: profane the קדושה: the sanctity of the holy place!

Our sages add a beautiful insight on our pasuk, saying:’If you sanctify yourselves, I deem you as having sanctified Me’

Explains Rav Hirsch: Since I am your G-d- you call me ‘our G-d’, and I call you ‘My nation’- קדושת שמי: The holiness of my Name in the eyes of the nations of the world, is dependent on your conduct; when you sanctify yourselves, by doing good, you, as it were, sanctify Me.

May we always sanctify the Name of Hashem, by being קדשים!