As we depart the holiday season and enter into the winter months, I would just like to take a moment to thank all of those individuals without whose vital assistance, the High Holy Day services in our shul would not have been the tremendous success that they were. These individuals know who they are, and their ongoing help is greatly appreciated by myself as well as the shul members. Thank You.
The holiday season concluded with the celebration of Simchat Torah, when we dance with the Torah scrolls and express our joy in completing the reading of the Five Books. But we don't just finish the Book of Devarim and put the Torah back on the shelf. No. Rather, we immediately start back at the beginning with the reading of Sefer Bereishit, thus creating a perpetual cycle of Torah study in our lives.
What lessons might we be able to learn from the Book of Genesis, that we are currently reading in shul every Shabbat? The lessons of Sefer Bereishit are myriad, as it is a book that tells both of the genesis of the world, as well as the genesis of the Jewish people. But it is also a book that tells of the genesis of holiness in the world, kedusha.
Jewish tradition tells us that if we want to really understand the deeper meaning of a concept, or what a concept represents in its essence, then you turn to the first place that the word which represents that idea appears in the Torah. That initial appearance in the Torah will then serve as an archetype for what that word means in its deepest essence.
In what context does the word that represents the concept of holiness- "kedusha"- appear for the first time in the Torah? In the context of Shabbat, where it says that the Almighty blessed the seventh day and sanctified it- "vayekadesh oto", words that we say each Friday night when reciting the Kiddush. The Jewish Sabbath is the archetype of holiness in this world. In what ways can we work on increasing the holiness of Shabbat in our lives every week?
All the Best,
Rabbi Peretz Robinson