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Positive Vision - Day 11
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision".
Day 11 - I Just Want to Be Normal! - Being kadosh in the Real World
It’s time to climb down from the mountaintop and its rarified, thin air and get down to earth.
Like they say, let’s get real.
So kedushah is separating from nature and living above it. Sounds lovely, but what, in practical terms, is being demanded? Is the goal to live alone on a mountaintop, to even disdain this world?
I can imagine the reaction: “... because if that is what you want, then I might as well check out now!”
In fact, Ksav Sofer1 says just the opposite. If one tries to be kadosh by rejecting society and leading a monastic life away from all people, then he has missed the point entirely. He is in fact not kadosh at all! He cites a Midrash:
In the same manner that I (Hashem) am separated, so shall you be; just as I am Holy, so shall you be.
In some sense our kedushah is supposed to parallel Hashem’s. How so? Ksav Sofer explains: There is a daily prayer dedicated to Hashem’s holiness, the prayer we refer to as “Kedushah.”
In this tefillah we describe Hashem as being completely separated from this world ... three times so: Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, Hashem Tzevakos.
But this phrase is followed by another phrase that con-veys just the opposite idea, that Hashem is intimately involved with this world: Melo kol ha’aretz kevodo - the whole earth is filled with His presence.
Hashem is involved with every aspect of this world. His hashgachah, attention, control, and concern pervade every detail of this world. Yet He is Kadosh.
This is the point of the Midrash.
Do not think that we are charged with a kedushah that demands separation from society. Not at all. Our kedushah is meant to parallel Hashem’s kedushah. He is involved in this world and yet above it. This is the kedushah we are instructed to emulate. To be involved with people, to be concerned with their welfare, in much the same way Hashem is, and yet to be above it, all the same.
By now, I guess you are completely confused.
On the one hand, you are relieved to hear that you are supposed to be normal, living among people. On the other hand, you are told to be kadosh and separated. How does this work?