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Weekly Chizuk

Parshas "Acharei Mos - Kedoshim"

Kedusha -The Opposite of Ta'ava

You shall be holy (kedoshim (Vayikra 19:2)

Rashi: You shall be holy: Separate yourselves from sexual immorality and from sin, for wherever one finds a barrier against sexual immorality, one finds holiness.

The Ramban learns that the mitzvah of Kedusha applies to all areas; one should sanctify himself in everything he does. Rashi, however, writes that Kedushah relates specifically to sexual immorality. Rav Yerucham (Mashgiach of the Mir in Europe, in his sefer Daas Torah) derives from this Rashi a very important lesson: the only way to stand up to the forces of human lust, passion, and sensual pleasures is by acquiring Kedusha.

The most repugnant and abhorrent ta'ava (lust) is that of sexual immorality. One who controls himself in these matters is merely fulfilling his basic responsibility as a human being. We would think that such a person is a kosher Jew; he's not disgusting, he's not repugnant. It would never enter our mind to consider him a holy man. Kedusha is a very high and exalted level. In the Braisa of Rabi Pinchas ben Yair kedusha is at the top of the ladder of a person's spiritual climb (Avoda Zara 20b). And here we find Rashi telling us, stay away from illicit relationships, and you will be holy!

How can this be? How is this any different than a person who doesn't steal. Theft also a violation of the Torah, the prohibition of geneiva. But being honest and not stealing doesn't make one holy!

This, writes Rav Yerucham, is the lesson we derive from Rashi. Lust is a bad character trait embedded in one's heart from his birth. Therefore, one has to exert tremendous efforts and break this instinct. This is only possible through kedusha. This is the only way a person can rise above his base nature and conquer the unending stream of lusts and passions and all the filth they bring.

The gemara in Avoda Zara 70a relates that the goyim claim that the Jews certainly do not keep Shabbos. Imagine a wallet full of $100 bills lying in the street on Shabbos. How can anyone pass by without taking it? What the gemara is telling us is that it is a basic human assumption that no one in the world is capable of resisting such a temptation. Even this most basic and universal prohibition of stealing requires a very special pure soul to whom theft has no appeal. And yet everyone agrees that in order not to steal or be a thief one does not have to be a lofty holy man. All one needs is to be a reasonable person who understands that stealing is wrong. The same applies to the prohibition of "Do not covet." The Ibn Ezra (Shmos 20:14) cites the well-known question: how it is possible to forbid a function of the heart. If one sees something desirable, he automatically covets it. How can the Torah tell one to suppress a basic human instinct? One must be a very pure soul not to experience this instinct.

So we see that the commandments of "Do not steal" and "Do not covet" are not considered contrary to holiness. Whereas sexual immorality is stated as the opposite of Kedusha. This is a very strong indicator of the power of lust, because its opposite is Kedusha. That means that someone without Kedusha must by force be corrupt in immorality.

In summary there are 2 basic and opposite conditions of an individual: 1) the power of one's lust. 2) the opposite of which is Kedushah. Now you can understand the tremendous importance the Torah gives to the Nazir for his separating himself from wine. At a cursory glance we are surprised. What's so great about refraining from wine for a mere 30 days? However, in reality this indicates the importance the person gives to protecting his mind. Therefore he decided to distance himself from intoxicating beverages which only confuse one's intellect. We would think that he is still very far from entering the status of "being holy." Yet, for this he is distinguished as "God's crown is on his head."

Thus we see the extreme opposite pole of lust is specifically Kedusha. And this comes only through distancing oneself from physical lusts. Therefore a Nazir who separated himself from a simple lust as drinking wine for only 30 days finds himself connected to holiness. He is worthy of the title, "And you shall be holy," and he rightfully bears the "Crown of his God" on his head.

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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