You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping creature that
creeps, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, that you should
become unclean through them. For I am HASHEM your God, and you shall
sanctify yourselves and be holy, because I am holy, and you shall not defile
yourselves through any creeping creature that crawls on the ground. For I am
HASHEM Who has brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God. Thus,
you shall be holy, because I am holy. (Vayikra 11:43-45)
What does it mean to be “holy”? It’s not so easy to understand from our
earthly station how avoiding certain foods make us “holy”. Why is the exodus
from Egypt relevant to the discussion of Kashrus? So HASHEM is “holy”! How
does that help us?
It took me about 10 years maybe as many cars to learn two important words. I
not sure if it’s hyphened or maybe a regular compound word but not knowing
it compounded certain problems in my life. Those or that word is
“oil-change”! It was only after have burnt out many an old clunker and then
investing in a fairly new car that I with my wife’s encouragement I peeked
inside the user’s manual in the glove compartment and it was there I first
learned about the 3,000 mile “oil-change”. I guess we did not want to get
stuck making payments on a car that had outlived its usefulness that drove
us to defer to the wisdom of the manufacturer for maintenance instructions.
There you go! If it’s that way by a car, which is just a monetary purchase
how much more it is applicable to the investment of one’s very life and soul.
Maybe we can understand how things work with the following instructive
words of Moshe Chaim Luzzatto ztl. in his classic work “Path of the Just”:
We thus derive that the essence of a man's existence in this world is
solely the fulfilling of Mitzvoth, the serving of God and the withstanding
of trials, and that the world's pleasures should serve only the purpose of
aiding and assisting him, by way of providing him with the contentment and
peace of mind requisite for the freeing of his heart for the service which
devolves upon him. It is indeed fitting that his every inclination be
towards the Creator, may His Name be blessed, and that his every action,
great or small, be motivated by no purpose other than that of drawing near
to the Blessed One and breaking all the barriers (all the earthy elements
and their concomitants) that stand between him and his Possessor, until he
is pulled towards the Blessed One just as iron to a magnet.
Anything that might possibly be a means to acquiring this closeness, he
should pursue and clutch, and not let go of; and anything which might be
considered a deterrent to it, he should flee as from a fire. As it is stated
(Psalms 63:9), "My soul clings to You; Your right hand sustains me." For a
man enters the world only for this purpose - to achieve this closeness by
rescuing his soul from all the deterrents to it and from all that detracts
There is a natural tendency for the soul which can be compared to a small
magnet to be attracted to the HASHEM which is like a huge magnet. One will
automatically jump to cleave to the other. However if you put more and more
papers as an interposition between the magnets then the attraction will
become gradually weaker and weaker until it is barely perceptible.
That’s what “Tuma”- contamination seems to do to us. Therefore if the user’s
manual, from Mount Sinai says to use a certain fuel and to avoid another
who are we to disagree?!