This week we begin reading the book of Leviticus. To many people, this is just a book of do’s, don’ts, and lots of boring details. However, what most people do not realize is that packed within the entire book of Leviticus are details of Holiness.
According to the great Jewish thinker Abraham Joshua Heschel:
“The question of religion is what we do with the presence of G-d: how to think, how to feel, how to act; how to live in a way compatible with our being created in the image of G-d.”
Holiness is not some mystical state we all someday hope to obtain. Rather, according to Scripture holiness is a lifestyle. If we want to know how to live a holy life, HaShem gives us the details – show neither partiality to the poor nor deference to the mighty … don’t stand idly by the blood of your neighbor … keep my Shabbat … observe the mitzvot …
These are the details of holiness. The Torah often paints an image quite different from our western concepts of what it means to be holy. Although there is an element of mystery to holiness, holiness also does not exist apart from a way of life. We are to be holy as G-d is Holy.