Holiness of a Different Kind

Parashat Vayikra

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.

About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue in Agoura Hills, CA, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
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1 Response to Holiness of a Different Kind

  1. Catherine Arvin says:

    I agree with what you said. Though I think you should add what the word in Hebrew means, “seperate” is that not what it means? So our life style will be seperate from the rest of the world, make us different, unique. We will stand out, because we will be different and not conform to what society says we should be but as G-d has seperated himself, and He states that we should be Holy (seperate) as He is. Is that not correct? But lifestyle is definately the major thing, we will definately have a unique and different lifestyle, if we love G-d and keep the mitzvot.

    Happy New Year and may this time of the beginning of the year and the beginning of the feasts, make us look to HaShem who renews life once again. May He help us to attain that holiness that He desires from each of us.

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