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Harav Y. Reuven Shlita

The ‘Yesod Ha’Avodah,’ Rebbe Avrohom of Slonim was a spiritual magnet for Yidden who were suffering and were seeking his advice and blessing. One such beleaguered soul once entered and in tears spilled out his tale of woe. ‘Rebbe’ the broken man cried, ‘If only my needs for earning a living were not so time-consuming, I would have more time to serve Hashem. As it is my whole day is consumed by my workload, and I feel myself losing out spiritually.’

The Tzadik answered:

The Mishna in Avos (2:5) warns us “do not say, when I am free I will study, for perhaps you will not become free.” Explained the Rebbe, a person should never muse ‘if only I had time to spare and be at rest (free) to serve Hashem!   Because perhaps the true Will of Hashem is dafka that you should not have what you consider free time, that your role in this life is to be extremely busy with earning an honest living, working hard, and it is specifically in this manner that you are meant to serve The Eibishter, bringing true nachas into the spiritual realm.

The Yesod Ha’Avodah went on to share the following: Once after the Hieliga days of the month of Tishrei, the Chozeh of Lublin Zt”l told his students that he could tell what each of them had in mind by their prayers during that holy time and how their requests were accepted and decided upon in Heaven. He then said to one of his students, ‘you had in mind by your davening that because your parnasah takes away so much time from your service to Hashem, you’re willing to give up two gulden a week from you’re weekly pay, this on the condition that the rest of your money should come at the beginning of the week, thereby leaving you with a few days free to exclusively serve Hashem. However, in Heaven they laughed at your request, because who says it is Hashem’s will for you to have it easy finding time to serve the Eibishter in a leisurely pace? Perhaps it is the Will of the Eibishter that you be forced to work hard and have worries, and despite all this serve Hashem with all your heart, thus bringing Hashem true nachas.’

We are all placed in the world with a unique task. Fulfilling that role is why we are here.

In our world today we often forget that pursuing a livelihood is a holy enterprise. Not everyone is meant to be in kollel, nor teaching in a Yeshiva. True these are extremely high callings, but the Eibishter has tasked each one of us with a particular mission, and it is from there and only there, that we can fulfil the tikun we are born to. What may seem pedestrian and far from holy can bring the greatest nachas to Hashem when done in the knowledge that this is the Will of Kaveuchal the Eibishter.

Parshas Kedoshim, is perhaps one of the only Torah readings whose very name is a source of inspiration: “Kedoshim ti’hiu – You shall be holy, for I, Hashem your G-d, am holy. (19:2)” Kedusha, translates to holiness or sanctity, and arouses in us thoughts of lofty spiritual pursuits, piousness, and sacred rituals. Holiness makes us think of great individuals spending endless hours wrapped up in prayer and service before the Kisei Hakovod. It conjures thoughts of Shabbos and Yom Tov, our tables covered with the whitest linen, the candles casting a heavenly glow. Hence, we would expect this week’s Parsha to be full of mitzvos which inspire such thoughts and aspirations.

It therefore comes as somewhat of a surprise when we read on after the Parshas astounding beginning, that in fact parshas Kedoshim is home to some of the most mundane and earthly of mitzvos:

‘Pay your workers on time; don’t steal; don’t lie; don’t take revenge against someone who has wronged you…’

Why would the Torah choose to introduce such ordinary and practical mitzvos with the lofty message, “Be holy?”

R’ Yisrael Salanter zt”l, the great founder of the mussar movement, used to say: People associate holiness with spirituality and heavenly pursuits. From the Torah it appears this notion is false. Kedoshim ti’hiu – You shall be holy. What makes a Jew holy?

“Don’t steal; pay your workers on time; don’t lie; deal honestly with others…” For I, Hashem your G-d, am holy – In heaven, so to speak, I am holy, and I have many holy administering angels that serve Me constantly. If I demand that you be holy – down there, I mean sanctifying your lives through how you deal with others, at work, at home, and in shul. There is nothing mundane about that.

Going back to the beginning of this Parsha, we read:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the entire assembly of Bnei Yisroel and say to them…..” (19:1)

Rashi points out that this teaches us that this portion of the Torah was said at a gathering of the entirety of Klall Yisroel because the majority of the essentials of the Torah depend on it.

We are all born to be Kedoshim, it is in each and every one of us. We were all there, to hear that the seemingly mundane contains the seeds of kedusha.

Our measure of what is holy is not always in sync to what the Eibishter measures. We are here for a purpose, and in that task lies our ability to be truly holy.


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