Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Kedoshim

The task of being a special people, especially a holy people, is an onerous one. As difficult as it is to meet high standards on an individual basis, it is certainly extremely problematic to demand that an entire nation meet consistently high standards of behavior and morality. Thus the charge of the parsha that Israel be a holy people, a special people that sets standards of sacredness and morality, appears to be slightly unrealistic. Yet, we are all aware that the Torah does not demand of us behavior that is beyond our capability to perform.

I think that one must realize that the setting of standards is part of the Torah's mission and message to us. And for standards to be effective in human life they must be set at high, even maximum, limits. The Torah may recognize that human beings often fall short of the high standards it sets for them. But the Torah does not deem that sufficient reason for lowering or compromising its high moral demands and standards. A famous US senator pithily remarked that our current society is guilty of "defining deviancy down." It is not that the behavior of people in our time is so radically different than it was in previous times. It is rather that we have thrown away all the standards that were once the benchmark of acceptable and civilized behavior. Thus, in our new current, feel-good, anything goes, invent your own religious service world, we are far from being holy and special. Worse, we are unaware that we are supposed to be holy and special, that there are goals that we are to attempt to achieve and that life's unceasing journey always points spiritually upward.

God's demand upon us is that we somehow struggle to emulate our Creator. We are commanded to be holy "for I am holy." That is the thrust of the description that man was created in God's image. Holiness is not only performance and behavior. It is also instinct, an inner sense of right and wrong, a self-discipline, an understanding of God's will and goals for us. Though much of the Jewish world is observant in ritual behavior, I feel that few of us are godly. We perform ritual but our inner self, our very soul, is often left to atrophy and shrivel within us. We pray to God that not only should we rejoice in the observance of the Torah commandments but that, equally as important, our heart be purified to serve God, to imitate the Divine ways and to aspire to the holy standards set for us by Torah. In a world that has emptied the vessel of true holiness and cast away all standards of spiritual purity, being holy is no easy task. But again since God does not demand the impossible from us, being a holy people should still remain the standard of all Jews and of Jewish national life.

Shabat Shalom.

Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2000 Rabbi Berel Wein and Project Genesis, Inc.



 






ARTICLES ON YOM KIPPUR:

View Complete List

Saying Is Believing
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

Growing Through the Holidays: Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkos
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

Completing The Process
Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Yom Kippur
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

Commandment of Confession
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Yom Kippur
Shlomo Katz - 5773

ArtScroll

Admission
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5768

A Happy Day
Shlomo Katz - 5769

After Six Comes Seven
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

> The Role of Teshuvah
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Deep Heat Therapy
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5758

Body and Soul
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Shabbos Shuva - A Year-long Effect
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

The Key to Clemency
Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden - 5761

Call to Arms
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Yom Kippur and the Pathways to Joy
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756



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