Positive Vision - Day 7
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision".
Day 7 - A Defining Moment - Discovering Kedushah
Let’s open with a story.
Rav Mattisyahu Salomon shlita, the Mashgiach of Beis Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, relates the following incident that was told to him by a friend, a Rosh Yeshivah in Haifa. A refined yungerman serves as a mashpia in this Rosh Yeshivah’s school, and this is his story:
“I was raised in an anti-religious kibbutz without any connection to Torah and mitzvos whatsoever. All I knew about religious Jews was negative, to say the least.
“When I was sixteen, I heard of a shop that had just opened in nearby Haifa, whose ‘products’ could only be described as decadent, so of course, I made my way to town to check it out. As I stood, with many others, looking at the window displays, I caught sight of a religious Jew walking down the street from the other direction. He noticed the tumult in front of the store and looked to see what was going on. When he realized what it was, his face showed such revulsion that it took me by surprise. He quickly veered away, turned his head to the other direction, and made every effort to avoid the area. I was puzzled. I considered myself ‘normal’ and this was all harmless fun, but this religious fellow was avoiding my entertainment like the plague. Why? I resolved to ask him but by the time I decided to do this he was gone. Curious and a bit irritated, I determined to confront him so he could explain his perspective. I combed the streets until I finally found - not him, but another religious Jew who was only too happy to explain it to me.
“We sat down and talked. He explained that he finds meaning in his life - and deep satisfaction - through his relationship with his Creator, and this relationship demands kedushah. He elaborated, I asked more questions, and after a while he told me that if I really wanted more information I should enroll in a yeshivah. I figured it couldn’t hurt to at least drop by, so I did. One thing led to the other and here I am today, a frum Jew.” What did this fellow find so surprising? Why was it so puzzling, so surprising, to walk away from the shop? Why did he intuitively feel that shmiras einayim points to something spiritual, something higher?
Indeed, what is kedushah?
Numerous sefarim speak of kedushah in the same basic vein, but we will focus on the words of the Malbim, who defines kedushah as follows:
Kedushah refers to one’s separation and elevation from the path of the physical and natural to matters pertaining to the G-dly soul, which are so much higher and loftier than matters of the flesh.
There are many levels of kedushah. Some people are able to rise above the desire for arayos and forbidden food. But some rise [even higher], above anything physical and all that is associated with it; higher than any earthly pleasure until they become like angels ...
This is the kedushah that is stated regarding Hashem. It refers to the fact that Hashem [Who fashions nature] rises from the natural order to a miraculous order and annuls all the rules of nature and its laws.
All this seems very deep and hard to relate to. Let’s see if we can make it something tangible, something we can understand.