Parashat Emor: How can we make God Holy?

The point of being Jewish is to have a relationship with God. Yet, a relationship implies a certain give and take. In biblical times it seems that the different kinds of sacrifices were our (human) contribution in this reciprocal partnership. With the destruction of the Temple one could think that our relationship with God broke or even came to an end.

I would strongly challenge this idea, and even say that the Torah right from its beginning presents us a different approach to be God‘s equal partners:

In Leviticus 22:32 we read: „You shall not profane My holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people — I Adonai who sanctify you.“ Translation issues become important here. The text says v’nikdashti, „and I will be made holy“ amidst the Children of Israel. Or, in other words, „You will make Me holy just as I, Adonai, have made you holy.“

Here, for a moment, there is a relationship. We do something for God in response to what God has done for us. The only problem with this magic moment of relationship is that it makes no sense. How can we profane God’s Name or make God Holy? How can any action of ours, however base, debase God in any way? And more to the point, how can our human acts help, in any way, to make the Holy One, holy?

In the context of the Torah, our lives, our very existence as a people, are dependent on the actions of God. And here for this one shining moment, the Torah teaches us that God’s Holiness, God’s Presence in the world, is dependent upon us.

Having a relationship with God is a feathery thing. One never really knows what God is thinking, when God is present, how we can truly bear witness to God’s will in the world. And yet, through prayer we are reminded of all that is Holy in our world and in ourselves, and through this we form a bridge of connection. We become partners with God in the perfection of this world. It is then that we can truly make God holy. By repairing the brokenness in ourselves, by repairing the brokenness of our world, we repair the brokenness that has resided within God since the first moment of creation and in this way we can indeed make the Holy One, whole once again.

Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat

Rabbi Adrian M Schell
(Source: Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport) 

 

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