Parashat Kedoshim

Nobility On Endless Trial

We achieve nobility and holiness through practicing self-restraint.

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Excessive pride, gluttony and sexual improprieties are destructive forces that eliminate our nobility. Once we can demonstrate self-restraint, we can slowly attain dignity, and then even holiness. By constant reflection we can refine ourselves and ultimately become closer to God. During the process of developing nobility through self-restraint we inevitably help our friends, community and the world at large.

My mother's directives as well as God's are to be learned through osmosis. We learn by observing our role models and experience. Moreover, by internalizing the Torah and its halakhic (Jewish legal) values we transform ourselves into dignified, noble people. Our parents, teachers and friends who display compassion and self-restraint deepen our sense of humanity and consequently our holiness. Conversely, the athletes, actors and politicians who exhibit ruthless and brutal selfishness erode our sense of nobility.

"Kedoshim Tihiyu" is on endless trial and we have the wherewithal to issue a spiritual and ethical verdict on the decree, as our rabbis tell us in Tractate Megillah (25a), "Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for the fear of Heaven."

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Rabbi David Ehrenkranz is a teacher at Maimonides High School in Boston.