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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Paskin

Holy "ish"

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From Rabbi David

In this week's parsha we read:

קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ כִּ֣י קָד֔וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

You shall be holy because I, ADONAI, your God am holy. (Leviticus 19:2)

The Hebrew word for "holy" is קדש. In this verse above that word is used to describe what we should strive to be and what God already is. But if you look carefully the word is spelled differently in each context.

Ignoring the suffix ים which simply makes it a plural word, the first "holy" is spelled קדש whereas the second one is spelled קדוש. This later spelling is called "maleh" or full/complete because it has a letter vav in it. The other "holy" that references what we should strive to be, is called "chaseir" or lacking because it is missing the letter vav.

The holiness that we are to strive toward is lacking when compared to the holiness of God. That doesn't mean it isn't worthy of our efforts. It just means that we have to have realistic expectations. We are never going to be as holy as God. We will always be lacking in that respect. We can, however, strive toward our own highest level of holiness (lacking as it may be).

It is rarely helpful to compare ourselves against others (especially God). We each have our own levels of holiness to strive toward. The key is to be able to see within ourselves the capacity to reach those goals that are ours to reach while looking beyond the horizon toward ever higher and more lofty aspirations.

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