Drash on Parashat Kedoshim 2019
Rabbi Adi Cohen
Perth, Western Australia
Finding holiness in the mundane
The sound of a drawer closing—the voice of God,
the sound of a drawer opening—the voice of love,
but it could also be the other way around.
Footsteps approaching—the voice of love,
footsteps retreating—the voice of God
who left the country without notice, temporarily forever.
A book that stays open on the table beside a pair of glasses—
God. A closed book and a lamp that stays lit—
love. A key turning in the door without a sound—
God. A key hesitating—love and hope.
But it could also be the other way around
A sacrifice of a fragrant scent to God,
a sacrifice of the other senses to love:
a sacrifice of touch and caress, of sight and of sound
a sacrifice of taste,
But it could also be the other way around.
(Yehuda Amichai, “Open, Close, Open”, pg. 46)
In the core of this week’s Parasha, we find the commandment “And the Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: Speak unto all the congregation of the Children of Israel, and say unto them: Ye shall be holy; for I the Eternal your God is holy."
No explanation is given to the holiness required, however the commandment is followed by a list of ethical and social mitzvot. In this list, the Divine and the mundane are intertwined: reverence to one’s parents, keeping the Shabbat, agricultural regulations, business ethics and more. K’dusha (holiness) cannot be achieved only by worship within the safe walls of one Temple or another.
Our Parasha is calling us to bring holiness into our daily lives: to pause and recite a blessing even when we are alone, to treat others with respect and reverence regardless to their creed, age or gender, to negotiate in good faith, not to be blinded by what we still do not possess and to be grateful for what we have. It is calling for us to find strength in each other, practicing our Jewish identity together as a community, and to pursue our spirituality and our Jewish ethics as individuals as well.
“K’doshim t'hi'yu (you shall be holy)”. You shall be holy at work. You shall be holy at home, You shall be holy with you community. You shall be holy amongst strangers.
It is not easy nor convenient to constantly interact with the world through the lenses of our Jewish ethics and conviction, however it is how we may take pride in our thousands-year-old legacy, every hour, every day.