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Finding Holiness

05/05/2022 03:26:28 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Our Torah portion for this week, Kedoshim, begins with the following words:

“Adonai spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, your God Adonai, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:1-2)

What follows are several verses of commandments instructing us on how to live a holy life. From how we should harvest our fields, to not mixing different fabrics in our clothing, to paying those who work for us fairly and on time.

As with many verses of Torah, there are several that I can be in support of and then some that I disagree with completely. Yes, I believe in treating people fairly in business and that both incest and bestiality are abhorrent. But should the death penalty be applied when a person insults one or both of their parents or for those who participate in adultery?

If following all these mitzvot makes us holy in the eyes of God but, let’s say, we no longer raise our own cattle, farm our own fields, or make our own clothes, where do we find holiness in the day-to-day of our 2022 lives? This week especially, as our hearts are filled with pain surrounding the continuing war in Ukraine, the leaked document from the supreme court, and reaching the dreaded milestone of one million deaths in America due to COVID-19.

Finding holiness on this Thursday, May 5, 2022 is a choice. Just like we can choose to question verses of Torah we can choose to search out holiness.

Maybe you will research where your food and clothing come from and find out if those sources are being responsible to the planet. Maybe you will work to strengthen your relationships with those parental figures in your life. Maybe you have the privilege of owning a pet whose ability to find the most remarkable amount of joy in a simple task - such as flinging a stick - will make you realize you can still smile and giggle and feel joy yourself.

The truth is, holiness is all around us, just waiting for us to acknowledge it. It is in the way we interact with the people we share our spaces with – whether at the office, in the line at the grocery store or the locker room at the gym. It is in the silent moments with our loved ones, just being together, sharing the same oxygen. It is in the deep breaths, long walks, and trips to the nail salon as we take the necessary time to care for ourselves.

As a friend reminded me just two nights ago in a wonderful post-event-parking-lot conversation: “The days are long, and the years are short.” May we all find the strength to search for the holiness, even if it seems to be hiding in the nooks and crannies and know that we are better for it.

Shabbat Shalom.

Fri, September 29 2023 14 Tishrei 5784