When we use this term, holy (kadosh), what image do we have? We might well think that a holy person is someone aloof from the world, living in isolation -- removed, really, from everything that we associate with living.
This is a mistaken notion; nothing could be further from the truth.
The Netziv (Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin), the last Rosh Yeshivah of the famed Volozhin Yeshivah, tells us that holiness is achieved through developing good character traits (like modesty) and perfecting ones relations with others. It is not about excluding oneself from social interaction; such a posture would not sanctify Hashems name, perhaps the highest goal of the Jewish people. To act haughty or superior--that is not the Torahs notion of holiness!
The Netziv brings a proof from a verse in this weeks Haftarah, Ezekiel 44, 19:
Why does the verse have to tell us that that they put on other clothes? Isnt that obvious?! Could it possibly mean that they should wear their Priestly Garments outside the Temple precincts? No, one was not allowed to wear those garments outside. What, then, is the verse communicating?
The idea is that they should not wear their regular
clothes in the way of their Kohens clothes; rather, they should wear them as do the
rest of the people. And that is the reason the last words of the verse say, ...let
them not mingle in their clothes [their Priestly clothes], because if they were to
be in their Priestly garb, they would separate themselves from the people when the people
saw them dressed differently.
We are called the holy nation; we enjoy a unique status among the families of the earth. To live up to this responsibility, we all need to act holy, working hard to adorn ourselves with humility and other good traits. If we do all of our actions for Hashem, and not because well get a tax write-off or have our name up on the wall, we will truly earn the title, Kadosh, and sanctify Hashems name in the process.
Edelstein is Director
of the the Savannah Kollel and the
Savannah Torah Education Project (STEP).
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