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Parashat Kedoshim

Let's talk about Holiness.

The concept of kadosh is complicated. It is usually understood and translates as something Holy. It seems to be something that received that condition and has it in its being or constitution. And it is full of goodness and absolutely devoid of errors. In other words… unattainable.

We can also define it as something that we separate from the rest, from the common, to make it special to us. This is what we do in the Chupah ve Kiddushin ceremony under the Chupah, when the groom tells the bride the formula “harei at mekudeshet li…”—“be consecrated to me”. In other words, “I choose you from among all the women, I separate you from them to choose you and I make you special for me. I consecrate you to me.” This interpretation of kadosh or mekudash, in principle, removes the supposed intrinsic condition of Kedushah from the object or person we are calling.

In that sense, Parashat Kedoshim seems to confuse us. God tells us “Kedoshim you will be, because Kadosh am I”. It seems that at some point we will have that condition regardless of our behavior, simply because He is Kadosh and He passes it on to us in a kind of osmosis.

Possibly God has separated us from the rest of the peoples and has "chosen" us—and therefore we are Kedoshim. We would love this. We gloat over that misunderstood concept of Am Segulá, the Chosen People, in which God’s election already makes us special. But it seems that it doesn't work that way. And the clue is given precisely by this pasuk of this parashah.

“Kedoshim tihiu.”—“Kedoshim you will be.” There is a way to go for that kedushah. And we have the recipe, the GPS turned on and showing us the way, precisely in this very parashah: everything that the text imposes on us this week are not suggestions for a better life. They are exactly the indications of a recipe that we must follow to "cure" the evils that surround us and touch us. They are the indications that the voice of the lady (or the gentleman) of that GPS tells us and that if we do not follow them, we will show up at the other side of the one we intended to arrive.

Not taking advantage of the weak or the one who is in inferior conditions to ours is not a suggestion. Cheating our fellow man on weight or anything else, as a symbolic example of how we shouldn't scam other people, is not a viable option. They are not part of the prescriptions to become Kedoshim.

The question arises: who wants to be Kadosh??? So that??? Why would I choose KEDUSHAH for myself??? Good questions...

Unfortunately, there is no brilliant and precise answer.

Being Kedoshim, or aiming to be, is part of the commitment to consider ourselves chosen. Elected and separated from a mass that does not respect these or other values ​​to justly, and forgive the redundancy, put them in value. And if we continue to consider ourselves partners with God in the most beautiful and arduous work He gave us, “Tikkun olam be malchut Shaddai”—“the repair or improvement of the world in the kingdom of God”, then the path is dictated by Kedushah, the search to be better individuals with better relationships.

Surely the verb in the future tense of "Kedoshim tihiu"—“Kedoshim you will be”, comes to show us the difficulty of the path to travel to reach Kedushah. The only one that IS Kadosh is the Kadosh Baruch Hu. We aspire to that Kedushah. We may never get there. Probably not. But the closer we get to that Kedushah, it will be marked by how much we can comply with the simplest and most complex of the precepts. The one who seems to summarize everything in a few words: “Veahavta lereacha kamocha,” “You will love your neighbor as yourself.”

There is no intrinsic Kedushah, except in the Kadosh Baruch Hu. We cannot grant Kedushah to an object, unless it contains within itself something that has Kedushah, as in the case of the Sefer Torah. Yes, we can, according to the text of our parashah, charge our lives, our actions, our purposes with that Holiness.

It is not a utopia. It is the will to leave ourselves a little aside to make room for our neighbor, the surrounding world, to improve the future of those who will follow us in this world. It exists and it is possible to achieve it.

The pasuk ends with the signature: Ani Adonai. “Veahavta lereacha kamocha, ani Adonai.”—“Love your neighbor as yourself, I AM GOD.” The Supreme stands as a witness of what we intend to do on that path, knowing that we are going to make mistakes and He will continue by our side. Because that's what these types of partners do. He who is Kadosh.

And that should be our goal, our objective. THIS is what we should aspire to.

Gustavo Geier


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