• You Shall Be Holy

Rabbi Nancy Rita Myers | Rabbinic Contributor


The first week of May, we read in the Torah, Kedoshim (Holiness). We are told, “You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy.”  What does it mean to be holy?


In this Torah portion, it means revering our parents, being loyal to God, leaving food for the poor, not taking anything that isn’t our own, being honest, looking out for the vulnerable, and loving the stranger, and etc. What it means to be holy is to recognize that we have a special place in this world. We are Jews. We are given laws that imbue sanctity in our lives. And we act in holy ways, when we are good to those around us.


Even in this time of uncertainty, it behooves us to focus on what brings sanctity to our lives. When do we feel connected with something bigger than ourselves?  How can we live according to our values in a time of upheaval?


It starts with identifying what our core values are and why we live. As humans, we need connection, we need people. Even though, we can’t gather together like before, we can pick up the phone and call a friend or relative. We can reach out with compassion and caring on line and social media. And we can express appreciation to those who share our homes with us.


As Jews, we need to remember that as Pirkei Avot teaches, “The world rests on three things, Torah, worship, and acts of lovingkindness.’ And so, how can we continue to engage in Torah and study?  Well, we can use Zoom, live streaming, google chats and more. We can also just open up a book and read and learn. Engaging our mind can help us traverse the walls of our homes. Worship and ritual are important ways to mark time and connect. Shabbat is still here every week. We can light candles and watch our synagogue’s services on line. Prayers, blessings, and songs can raise our spirits and fortify us.


 And then there are acts of loving kindness. Now even more so, we need to explore how we can help others. Some of us are able bodied and able to run errands for others. Those of us who can’t go out, can still give Tzedakah, make contributions, no matter how small.  We can offer compassion and empathy to others who are alone and fearful. A call can help elevate one’s mood and give hope to another.


This is a time for us to dig deep. We must take the time to identify our core values and what makes us who we are. And then act on them!  Life continues even in times of uncertainty. We must live purposefully and joyfully. The Torah implores us to remember that we are a holy people. It impels us to be the best version of ourselves and know that we are here for a reason and that life is beautiful.


If we focus on our values, our lives will be meaningful and we will truly be holy.