Parshat Acharei-Kedoshim – May 1, 2020 / 7 Iyar 5780
“HaShem spoke to Moshe saying, ‘speak to the entire congregation of the Children of Yisrael and say to them: Be Holy, because I, HaShem your G-d, am Holy.’” ~ Vayikra 19:1-2
The Mei HaShiloach says: “…For I am Holy because G-d says He is always prepared, ready to save a Jew. So Yisrael must always be in a state of readiness, always looking to G-d, and not distracted and preoccupied with mundane things.”
What does it really mean to be holy? What does it really mean to be ready? So many great minds of Am Yisrael have darshined out what HaShem was meaning to tell us in these pasukim. I want to focus on one aspect of this concept.
On Friday night I was taught to make kiddush davka on wine. It must be wine, grape juice doesn’t work. And as I say the words of kiddush, I must stare deeply into the wine and search for my reflection. Why? Because alcohol is one of the most destructive and powerful things in the world. It has destroyed lives, homes, children, caused murder, and worse. So why use it for kiddush? Because as a Jew, I have the power and the responsibility to take the things in the world that are the darkest, where HaShem is least apparent, and elevate them. To bring them up to a place of holiness through my actions.
Now please open your hearts with me, now is not the time to talk about outside things, now is the time to talk about what is inside. Why do I need to search for my reflection in the wine? Each one of us must be willing to look deeply inside of ourselves and ask – where are the places that HaShem is most hidden. The places that feel so lost, so lonely, so broken, the places that not only do we hide from everybody, we do our best to even hide them from ourselves. Coming face to face with this place is maybe one of our main avodas of becoming “holy”.
The Holy Piaseczna Rebbe, teaches us that these moments of self reflection are the very places that we are able to do real work in our neshama. In my heart I know that the avoda of this pasuk is not about “becoming holy” or changing something that I am not into something that is better. The work of this pasuk is going inside and staring down the areas of myself that block me from being able to see how holy I am. It’s about seeing a reflection of my nefesh Elokit in those very places and then doing the work to connect to Hashem there.
The Ishbitzer Rebbe says that we have “to be prepared”. I believe that when we do the work, everyday to look at ourselves, to allow ourselves to feel, to break our habits, to be honest in our self reflection, we are doing the work of preparation – we are preparing ourselves to see the reflection of the Divine within ourselves which enlivens us and is what makes us Holy.
Master of all things, Abba, I want to be holy, I yearn to remove the things inside of me that cause me to believe that I am anything other than holy. Please strengthen me to be honest, to look deeply into my self-reflection and to not be afraid to do the work to elevate the places that seem so separated from You. My heart is so broken and so full all at the same time It is broken because I yearn for You so deeply and yet it is full because You always faithfully fill me so completely. I want to be holy, as You are, in order that I never feel disconnected from You and You, kiviachal, never feel disconnected from me.
Good Shabbos & Blessings Always
Shimon Aaron HaMesharet