“Holy” is one of the traditional key-words of religion. There are holy people, holy places, holy days, holy thoughts. We tend to think that all these instances of holiness are rare and special, but as far as Bible is concerned every human being can be hallowed, every place, every day, every thought, and every relationship.
The Bible says “anshei kodesh tih’yun li – You (all of you) shall be holy people to Me” (Exodus 22:30). Translated literally, the Hebrew means, “Humans of holiness shall you be to Me.” A person must be human before they try to be holy. A saint without humanity is no saint.
How does a person become holy? According to the end of the biblical verse we have quoted, “holiness” is attained through the observance of dietary laws. These laws stand for respect for animals, but even more for respect for oneself. Deciding what to eat and what not to eat is an act of free-will. It says, “I have the capacity to make decisions.
I have the courage to say yes and the nerve to say no.” Moral courage
leads to holiness.
This post was written by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple, a CJCUC lecturer and former rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Sydney, Australia