This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Vol. 21 No. 30
Zehava Lurie a"h, Boris Glassman z"l,
Shimmy Schwartz z"l, Pauline & Issy Chernickz"l
from the Glassman, Schwartz, Chernick Families
of Jerusalem, Efrat, Netanya, Johannesburg, Toronto,
Perth, New York, Harare
It Depends on the Motivation
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)
"Speak to the entire congregation of Yisrael and say to them you shall be holy, because I Hashem your G-d, am Holy" (19:2).
The Ramban explains the command to be holy as to sanctify oneself with regard to what the Torah permits. To refrain from committing adultery (which is what the Parshah is speaking about) is clearly forbidden, and requires no extra warning. What the Torah is warning us here is not to give free reign to one's desires by doing things that the Torah permits, to becomes, as the Ramban refers to it - a disgusting person with the Torah's permission. And he gives an example of someone who marries many wives and spends his time giving vent to all his desires. The same will apply for example, to someone who indulges in eating and drinking excessively.
G-d created desire as a means to help one carry out the Mitzvos; they are a means to an end, not an end within themselves.
The Oznayim la'Torah explains further that, like all other Mitzvos, the Mitzvah of "Kedoshim tih'yu" one can only fulfill if one performs it because G-d told us to. Someone who cuts down on intimacy because the doctors warn him that it is detrimental to his health cannot claim to be one iota holier than he was before. For so it is that a good deed that is performed for a motive other than for the sake of G-d will eventually become void, and sometimes even harmful if the Satan takes control of it and uses it for his own ends.
Take for example, chochmah, a Midah so important that it is the first thing we ask for in the Amidah after the three introductory B'rochos. Indeed, Chazal have said 'If you have acquired wisdom, what are you lacking? And if you have not, what have you acquired?'
Yet see what happened when Chavah, prompted by the Satan, tried to acquire knowledge. She succeeded in bringing death upon the entire world. And what happened to her quest for knowledge? She and Adam opened their eyes and discovered -that they were naked! And the cherry on the top - they ended up sewing new clothes (inaugurating the concept of fashion!)
That is why, when we Daven for knowledge, we explicitly say ask G-d to grace us with knowledge that comes from Him - a knowledge of Torah and all its branches, and follow with a request that we return to Him and His Torah. Now that is true knowledge, which leads a person to Kedushah.
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Kedushah and kedushah
"You shall be holy (kedoshim), because I Hashem your G-d, am Holy (Kodosh)" (19:2).
Moreinu Chayim Kanievski points out that whereas "kedoshim" is written without a 'Vav', "Kodosh" is written with one.
To answer the question, he cites a Medrash Rabah, which, commenting on the word "kedoshim", says, 'Perhaps this means like Me? Therefore the Pasuk adds "I am Hashem!", to teach us that G-d's sanctity is on a higher plane than ours, and that therefore, it is impossible for us to attain His level of sanctity.
Hence the Torah writes "kedoshim" without a 'Vav', and "Kadosh" with one.
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