Thursday, April 12, 2007

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Elevation

by Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

Besides discussing the duties of the priests and distinguishing between the animals that may be eaten and those that are forbidden, the Torah this week says that you shall not contaminate yourselves, “For I am God Who elevates you from the land of Egypt to be a God unto you; you shall be holy for I am holy.” [i]

Regarding this sentence, we must ask:

1. Why did He say that He is the God Who elevates us (brings us up) from Egypt after He already did that? This line comes way after He brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt. Shouldn’t it say that He is God Who elevated us?

2. And what does God being holy have to do with us being holy?

Both of these questions can be answered with the same answer. He said He is the one Who elevates us because as we focus on Him and His ways we loosen the bonds of physical slavery (Egypt). This is not merely a historical reference but explains the function of Torah today.

Elevating us does not mean that we begin to fly off the planet. It means that focusing on God and His ways frees us to use the physical without being enslaved by it. When our priorities are spiritual and our daily lives become spiritual, the physical does not disappear but is merely put into proper perspective, a tool not a master.

When we live our lives dedicated to holy goals, we ourselves become holy. Although at first this certainly does not sound modest, we are in fact commanded to be holy. [ii] And this explains the second question as well. Because God is holy, when we do His will and follow His ways, we become His holy people.

Now, what does the word “holy” mean? It means to be set-aside for sacred purposes, devoted, consecrated and pure. So instead of viewing ”trying to become a holy person” as being a boastful goal, we see that really it is an attempt in self-nullification. We nullify our selfish desires and take on the spiritual desires, and values of the Torah. We empty ourselves of our selfish desires and when we succeed, the holy values take their place. These holy values give us holy thoughts that lead to holy deeds and then, as a result, we too become holy.

At first, “becoming holy” is an obligation. Then it becomes a privilege.

[i] Lev 11:45
[ii] Lev 11:44

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.

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