- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On May 12, 2017
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
“Holy” can seem inaccessible, a transcendent, awe-inspiring experience beyond reach, too lofty for humans to attain. Jewish tradition teaches the opposite. Holiness resides in our hands, our hearts, our intentions, and our actions.
Rabbi Chaim Stern offered that another way to think about holiness is to regard its essence as kindness. “Kind,” the word has a familiar ring. It has another meaning, also familiar—kind as in kin—‘related to.’ It is easier to be kind when we remember that you and I are kin, and akin.”
This week’s Torah portion provides a beautiful example: And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. (Leviticus 23:22)
In the context of the ancient farmers, they had the ability and power to ensure that the vulnerable among them had the sustenance they needed. It was a simple act of kindness that ensured justice and sacred obligation.
The instruction here ensured holy behavior. As every parent, teacher, or member of humanity has learned or witnessed, sometimes, often times, kindness needs to be coaxed, even legislated, as it is in Leviticus. It does not make it any less worthy, however. To the contrary, acts of loving kindness offered to someone in need are most holy.
The Holiness Code as described in this portion and last week is to have us imitate the Divine. “You shall be holy, for I, the Eternal, am holy…” (Leviticus 19:2) It is not far up in the heavens or far across the sea, but is very close to us, as Deuteronomy will assure us.
Holiness, actually, is as near as any act of kindness.
May Shabbat bring you much holiness.
I look forward to greeting you at Qabbalat Shabbat at 6 p.m. Live stream HERE.
Tot Rock Shabbat starts at 5:00 p.m. Riverway’s Soul Food Friday begins at 7:00 p.m. Torah Study with a short service takes place at 9 a.m. There’s lots of wonderful ways to celebrate Shabbat together.
I welcome your thoughts and reflections HERE.
 Reflections on the Themes of the Torah by Rabbi Chaim Stern, page 207