Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Kedoshim

From the Profanity of Profanities

By Rabbi Label Lam

HASHEM spoke to Moshe after the death of Aaron’s two sons, when they approached before HASHEM, and they died. And HASHEM said to Moshe: “Speak to Aaron your brother- he shall not come at all times into the Sanctuary, within the Curtain, in front of the Cover that is upon the Ark, so that he should not die. With this shall Aaron come into the Sancuary…” (Vayikra 16:1-3)

Any man shall not approach his close relative to uncover nakedness, I am HASHEM…(Vayikra 18:6)

HASHEM spoke to Moshe saying, “Speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and say to them, “'You shall be holy, for holy am I, HASHEM, your G-d.'" (Vayikra 19:1)

Why are the instructions about entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur introduced in the context of the death of the two sons of Aaron’s? What do the Laws of the Kohen Gadol entering the Holy of Holies have to do with the end of the portion dealing with forbidden relations? One couldn’t be higher or holier while the other could be lower and more degrading. Why are they bound together?

When a call came to invite me to the 20th high school reunion, I didn’t quite know how to respond. Toni (with an “i”), the class committee-head whose job it was to contact those who were wavering and urge them to come, was curious to confirm the rumor that she had heard about me. She started with, “I heard you became Rabbi! Is it true?” I answered blithely, “Don’t believe everything you hear.” Then she asked me with a rather exaggerated - Italian- flair, “How ya doin, Bobby’?” (That’s my English name. Please don’t tell anyone.)

I barely contained my first instinct to blurt out enthusiastically, “Boruch HASHEM!” but I tailored my response to a simple All-American, “Thank G-d! How are you?” to which she responded with a sort of terminal somberness, voice quivering and all, “Hanging in there Bobby, we’re all hanging in there!” Needless to say I didn’t go to the reunion despite the promise of an open bar and a DJ. If only it had not been scheduled for Shabbos Kodesh!

I hung up, though, with a lingering sense of sadness from that phrase, “hanging in there…were all hanging in there…” It has occurred to me since that all of life hovers between two points, like the ladder in Yaakov’s dream, “And he dreamt. And behold; a ladder was set earthward and its head was reached heavenward; and behold angels of G-d were going up and down on it. And behold; HASHEM was standing over him …" (Breishis 28:12-13)

Somewhere between a glorious “Boruch HASHEM!” and “hanging in there…we’re all hanging in there…” we lurch, lunge, and let loose. This is the full range of human potential, from the highest of mountain peaks to the deepest and darkest of canyons. Maybe that’s why these subjects are clustered together. Even the highest and holiest is warned not to descend to the abyss and the lowest is encouraged to reach for the highest heights.

More important than a starting point on the ladder at any given moment is the direction. “Angels of G-d are going up and down”. Traffic is going both ways on the ladder of life. Some may be tempted to step onto the slippery slope from even the Holy of Holies, while others are striving daily for holiness from the Profanity of Profanities.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.


 






ARTICLES ON KI SEITZEI AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

The Month of Elul: Customs
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Shofar: The Court Summons
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Tzedakah vs. Charity: What is the difference?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

> So It Is Written
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

To Crown a King
Shlomo Katz - 5767

It's War in There
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

High Holidays & Sound Investments
Jon Erlbaum - 0

Where there's a Cause, there's an Effect
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

Don't Take the Millstones
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

ArtScroll

Wake Up!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Say It with Chumros
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

Teshuva and Rebi Elazar ben Dordai
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Teshuva—Fencing in the Enemy
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

The Torah Introduces The Concept of "Tough Love"
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Past, Present, and Future
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

Out & Up
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information