Parshas Tzav - Kedusha

This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Yitzchak ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah                                                               for her neshama.

-By Shoshana Rosa

The theme of this week's Parshat Tzav is kedusha. Although this word is usually translated into "holy," there are those who recognize the essence of kadosh to mean "separate" or "exalted". Parshas Tzav gives us a longer glance into the whats and whens of the sacrifices brought in the mishkan (tabernacle) than last week's Parshat Vayikrah did. Herewe get to hear how they needed to be brought up and how kedusha plays a role in the process. 

The world of Torah teaches that when something or someones comes into physical contact with (or within physical proximity of i.e. under the same roof), an object or person that is either tahor (pure) or tameh (impure - the opposite of "holy"), the thing that makes contact take on the status of the thing it touches. I'll explain. While giving instruction on how to bring the fire and meal (fine flour) offerings, Moshe added "Any male among Aharon's sons may eat it [specific portions of the offerings].... Anything [physical objects] that touches them [the sacrifices] shall become holy" (Leviticus 6:11). Rashi clarifies the phrase 'anything that touches them shall become holy' saying "Although another sacrifice or ordinary food may have a lesser degree of holiness, in coming into contact with a superior sacrifice, its level of holiness will be catapulted to a more exalted state of being."

The concept of kedusha crops up all over the Torah. There's a famous phrase based in the fourth sefer (book) of the chamishei chumshei Torah (five books of Moshe): "אוי לרשע, אוי לשכנו" "Woe to the wicked one and woe to his neighbor." Our sages gave this quote in connection to an event that happened during our forty year sojourn in the desert. A man named Korach conspired to overthrow Moshe's leadership. Fortunately, Hashem put a stop to his shenanigans. His entire family, as well as the people who joined his little band of rebels were wiped out; now, who were these people who teamed up with Korach?  none other than their neighbors, the tribe of Reuven. One has to be so careful about the environment he allows himself to come into contact with; surroundings color a person.

However, one cannot simply touch something in order to attain its status. He must also "bathe" in the energy it exudes. "Anything [any item] that touches it [the animal sacrifice] and absorbs from it (Toras Kohanim 6:60)" (Rashi on Leviticus 6:20).

The close reader may have noticed that I presented two contradicting ideas here. Rashi first tells us that one has simply to touch something in order to attain its status. Then, a few pasukim (verses) later, he adds that in order to actually become akin to the holy object one comes into contact with he must also absorb it. What does the word absorb mean in context to kedusha ("holy"). Why isn't actual contact good enough?

A few parshios (chapters) ago, we read about the sin of the golden calf. After Hashem's (G-d's) reacted by declaring a desire to obliterate Bnei yisrael (the Jews) and start over with our nation's leader, Moshe - Moshe returned to heaven for forty days and nights to daven (pray) on our behalf for and to seek a healthier solution. At the end of forty days, Hashem decided to rescind His decree. The story is a formula for anyone who wants his prayers answered, He can daven for whatever he wants over the period of forty days. In Israel, specifically, we have a custom to go daven (pray) for a shidduch (match [spouse]) at the Kotel Hamaraavi (Western Wall) for forty days in a row. How can something like that be guaranteed? Nothing in this life is a certainty. There is a deeper idea behind what on the surface seems like persistence, though. When a person takes on something for 40 days, he becomes immersed in it, he soaks in the holiness of what he is doing. He becomes a new person, open to new possibilities.

Try it and see how new opportunities come into your life. But start small: ten days, then fifteen for something else... till you reach forty. You won't recognize yourself.  

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