Parshas Kedoshim 2018: Transcendence
Joe is a shomer-shabbos and shomer-mitzvos Jewish man. He actually takes great pride in his observance of the Torah. He keeps the highest degree of kosher, studies Torah, and keeps the Shabbos. Not only that but when he eats, he’s sure to make a brocha (blessing) over each food, and even bentch (recite Grace After Meals) afterward. Everything Joe does, is in accordance with the Torah. Or is it?
There’s something else you should know about Joe. Aside from being orthodox, Joe has an eating and drinking problem. See, Joe is vastly overweight mainly because what he sees, he eats. Joe will sit down to eat lunch and have a 24 oz steak, with hamburgers, fries, a salad, onion rings, soup, and pasta. After he’ll have a chocolate cake and a tub of ice cream. Oh, and to wash it all down he’ll polish off a bottle of soda and of course several glasses of wine.
However gross and gluttonous his eating routine may seem, he still makes a brocha with intense concentration before eating. Additionally, between bites he studies scripture and even the Talmud.
As religious as he may think his is, Joe completely missed the boat. What is the problem with Joe?
Yes, he does keep the mitzvos, studies the Torah, and acknowledges Hashem, but he is not acting as a Jew. Joe is what’s called a “nuvel b’rshus haTorah” -a degenerate in the boundaries of the Torah. A Jewish person has an obligation to act kadosh (holy). The parsha teaches, “Kedoshim tehiyu ki ani Hashem Elkoeichem.” You shall be holy, for I am Hashem, your God.
The definition of “kadosh” is not only “holy” but the word connotes “separation to make a difference”. Hashem wants His Chosen People to behave with refinement. He wants us to be different and stand out from the rest of the nations in the world.
Did you ever wonder why rabbis always wear suits and ties? They are representing Hashem, the King. Just as in sports each player wears his team's jersey with his team's colors, the rabbis and the Jews are supposed to dress and conduct themselves as though they are part of the elite team of Hashem.
Unfortunately, many of us have habits like Joe. Obviously not as bad as 5 course meals with a total of 25,000 calories but similar gluttony on a smaller scale. It’s very important for us to find our own glutinous habits and elevate ourselves by desisting from them. This is how we can fulfill the commandment, “Kedoshim tehiyu ki ani Hashem Elkoeichem.” You shall be holy, for I am Hashem, your God.
May we all merit to become holy in our efforts! -Amen!
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!
Maverick V. Peters