Dvar Torah Parshat Achre Mot-Kedoshim 5772 2012

The Portion of Kedoshim tells us that we must be holy. Just exactly how are we supposed to act to be holy? The Torah tells us how by explaining all the different moral and ethical laws we should follow. Unfortunately, there are people who think that by cutting oneself off from the community and living a secluded life one can become holy.

The famous Rabbi Yonatan Eibschitz once encountered such a person. This man had shut himself off from the community and did not want to have anything to do with it. He did not attend general meetings that dealt with problems the public faced; he did not participate in any charitable collections; and he did not feel that he wanted to be spiritually contaminated by getting involved with civic troubles.

The Rabbi asked to see him. When he discussed with him his behavior he pointed out that the Midrash tells us that when Moshe expounded this particular section of the Torah telling us to be holy, he did so publically. In the language of the Midrash: פרשה זו נאמרה בהקהל, “This portion (of Kedoshim) was said publically”. (Vayikra Raba, 24,5) Why so, asked the Rabbi. Simply, he answered, because being holy does not mean isolating yourself from the community. It means being part of the community and dealing ethically with the community. It means living a normal life but with moral principles and with honest conduct.

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