Please take a moment to sign our Condolence Book which will be given to the families of the 73 IDF Soldiers killed in last week's tragic crash, as well as the Speaker of the Knesset, the Prime Minister, the President and the Chief of Staff. Please encourage the friends you see in shul this Shabbat to do the same after Shabbat is out
Thank You and Shabbat Shalom
The mother, uneasy with the complexity of the question, responds, "Holy means special."
The child looks up at his mother and says, "Mommy, you're holy."
Kadosh, holy, means separate from the ordinary, endowed with a special status. Hashem teaches us to recognize and participate in sanctification by commanding us to observe the Shabbat "lekadesho," to make it holy.
Hashem further commands us with the mitzvah of kiddush hachodesh, the sanctification of the new month. With this mitzvah, the Jewish people set the Jewish calendar and schedule the holidays. Our observance of Shabbat and the Yomim Tovim give us an appreciation of the sanctity of time. During these days our lives are filled with a sense of kedushah, of being special.
Just like time, space can also be endowed with kedushah. When Moshe first encountered the Shechinah at the burning bush, G-d instructed him to remove his shoes, because he was standing on "admas kodesh," holy ground.
At Sinai, Israel as a people took on the status of a "goy kadosh," a holy nation. Our lives, guided by the Torah, are different. We are special.
As we read Parshat Terumah this week, the Jewish people have been freed from Egypt, they have seen G-d's Revelation at Sinai, and they have received the Torah with all its laws. Nevertheless, their redemption is not yet complete, the Ramban states, until they are "restored to the status of their fathers and returned to their place."
This return begins with G-d's command, "And they shall make for Me a Mikdash, and I will dwell among them." Once this Mikdash, the Mishkan, is built, Hashem's glory fills it and the Bnai Yisrael reach once more the status of their ancestors Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.
The Mishkan was to be a holy place within the camp of Israel, a portable Sinai, where the Jews had experienced G-d's Revelation and felt His Presence.
Yet, it remains the deeds of the people that ensures the presence of the Shechinah among Klal Yisrael, as this week's haftorah, makes clear. Shlomo Hamelech builds a magnificent permanent structure in Jerusalem, the Beit Hamikdash, to replace the Mishkan. "Hashem comes to Shlomo saying, "This Temple that you build - if you follow my decrees, perform my statutes and observe my commandments to follow them, then I shall uphold My word with you which I spoke to Dovid, your father. I shall dwell among the children of Israel and I shall not forsake the people of Israel."
The weight of our deeds is evident, as this parsha follows Parshat Mishpatim, which deals mainly with Jewish civil law. This teaches us, says the Beit Halevi, that even when giving to a sacred cause, one must be sure that there is no taint of illegality in his contribution. The holiness of the Mikdash< must not be desecrated by a violation of Torah ethics.
Hashem's Presence, found equally in the modest Tabernacle that roamed the wilderness and in the grand and magnificent Temple of Solomon and in our contemporary synagogues, is conditioned upon our adherence to the Torah, both in our homes and in our businesses.
The Torah scrolls in the arks of our synagogue and the seforim on the shelves of our batei midrash help us focus on the centrality of Torah study to our lives. The study of Torah gives us direction, allowing us to bring kedushah into every facet of life's experiences. When we achieve that degree of understanding, we are able to appreciate and respect that special quality of time, the sanctity of particular places, and the holiness of our lives.
Rabbi Alvin M. Marcus
Rabbi Marcus is the Rabbi of Ahavas Achim Bnai Jacob and David, West Orange, New Jersey.