Holy of Holies
| Published: May 02, 2021
We often heard Reb Shlomo say, that not all of us are all that holy, but we are all mamash the holy of holies. You had to wonder sometimes what did he really mean by that? Was he just being sweet and wanting us to feel good? Last week in “Parsaht Kedoshim” we get a beautiful true definition of that concept. “K’doshim t’hiyu, ki kadosh, Ani Hashem Elohaichem,” you should all be holy , because I Hashem your God am holy ( Vayikra 19.2). In Vayikra Rabba the question is raised. Do I truly believe that I can emulate God and be as Holy as he? Of course not. The message here is that God, who is Holy and created holiness, placed “kedushah, “ holiness into each and every one of us. We are holy of Holy. The holiness is planted in us by Hashem. Our role is to nurture, actualize and have it grow, or chas v’shalom the opposite, divorce it from our being.
The Slonimer Rebbe offers a beautiful teaching on holiness as it relates to a quote in this week’s Torah portion of “Emor.” “ Six days you should do labor , “ uvayom hash’vi’I, “ and on the seventh day,”Shabbat Shabbaton mikra kodesh… Shabbat hee la’Hashem”( Vayikra23.3). Why do we repeat the words “Shabbat Shabbaton.” Did we not already read that description last week in “Parshat Acharei Mot” as it pertains to Yom Hakippurim. “Because on this day He will forgive you and spiritually purify you from all of your sins; in front of Hashem you will be purified. “Shabbat Shabbaton hee lachem”( Vayikra16.30-31). As a matter of fact , The Torah uses that description of Shabbat Shabbaton once again in next week’s Torah portion of Behar when speaking about the mitzvah of “sh’mitah,” to give The Land its one year out of seven to rest and lay fallow.”U’vashanah ha’sh’vi’it, Shabbat Shabbaton y’h’yeh la’aretz” ( Vayikra25.4).
The Slonimer explains that each of these three moments in our lives are categorized as a soul, “neshamah.” The first, “Shabbat Kodesh” is the soul that Hashem injected into the world after six days of creation. Shabbat happens every seventh day. No matter what I do, there it is. The holy soul of Shabbat, the holiness of God, is right there for me to connect to. Once again I have a choice to make. Identify the holiness of God’s day of rest and find ways to spiritually connect to it or walk away from it and never really taste its beauty, in spite of the fact that it is right there in front of me. If I go for it , I realize that Hashem has literally invited me into his palace of holy souls, a place that I can get to only once a week. As such, that is “Shabbat Shabbton la’Hashem.”
Then there is the soul of the year, Yom Kippur. ”Shabbat Shabbaton lachem.” It is for you! It is clearly something which God has created only for us. A unique day where we forgo the physical, open ourselves up to be spiritually purified and thus be fitting to once again connect to Hashem. It is absolutely made for us.
The third application of Shabbat Shabbaton is relegated to The Land. The Land, which The Kuzari, Reb Yehudah Halevi describes as the place where B’nai Yisrael are chosen to soar to high heights that are most fitting for them. This is Shabbat Shabbaton la’aretz.” Here we are turned to connect to the holines of The land. The Talmud teaches us that the although the holiness of The Land, it’s soul, was placed there on creation, it id did not get actualized until Am Yisrael entered. The Land. How did we do that action? By performing the “mitzvot” of The Land and particularly, the “mitzvah of Sh’mitah.” “Shmitah” is the soul of the land which gives it its holiness. When we connect to this holiness, we too rise above and become spiritually holy of holies.
In relation to all of this call for action I am reminded of a teaching from Harav Eliyahu Dessler, zt”l. Rav Dessler points out that the “mizbe’ach,” altar in The Holy Temple, did not have stairs by which to go up to it ,but rather was a steep incline. The message for us is that when ascending the spiritual ladder of life there is no room for complacency. There is no place to sit on the stair s and chill for awhile. I am either ascending or descending. Nothing in between. If I am not going up the spiritual ladder, essentiality, I am going down. When it comes to issues of daily life, consciously or not, I am always choosing. I make the choice to be involved with Hashem and all that He has placed in my soul or to be divorced from it. I need to constantly be aware. Is this action bringing me closer to Hashem or pushing me further away? That’s it! No room for complacency. Shlomo Hamelech says it so succinctly in the book of Proverbs. ”As a bird wanders from its nest ,so is a man wandering “mimkomo,” from its place “( Mishlei 27.8).Everyone knows that the word “ Makom,” is one of the 72 names of Hashem. I need to be fully aware that when I wander away from my Place, I am literally on my own.
Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev brings down in his Torah on Shavuot that when when a person receives a sudden awakening from above, it is Godly light that shines down on him/her. This light is also categorized as “neshamah,”a level of soul. Then all I need to do is to clothe that soul in my body by making myself a vessel in order to receive the great soul light and make it a part of me. How do I do that? I immediately do a mitzvah,” good deed for someone else, pray or sit to study the Holy Torah.
Today is “lev ba’omer” the 32nd day of counting. Let’s open our hearts to the one next to us and recognize that person is holy of holies. How do we start? By singing together like at “krait yam suf ,” the splitting of the sea. The singing together opens up our hearts and brings us so much “simchah.” When more did we need “simchah” then right now?
We have all of these three soul levels available to us. The soul of the weekly Shabbat, the annual soul of Yom Hakippurim and the soul of The Land. May Hashem bless us to actualize the holiness which he imbued in us and may we be blessed to recognize all of the tools which he placed before us so that we can connect and mamash be the holy of Holies.