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    Ordinary acts – K’doshim

    Today’s sidra, K’doshim, means “Holy Ones”. It opens with God’s command to emulate His holiness and be holy people (Lev. 19:1-2).

    Holiness is usually defined in spiritual, even mystical terms, denoting a somewhat rarefied life above the ordinary, but this sidra has a more practical approach, interpreting holiness ethically and requiring a life of uprightness and decency.

    It must be in this sense that a synagogue is called K’hillah K’doshah, “a holy congregation”. Its members are not necessarily imbued with otherworldly sanctity, but they show they are a holy congregation by helping each other, supporting the community, and improving their society.

    But good deeds alone do not earn the title “holy”. This comes from doing what has to be done from the right motives, as indicated in the traditional prayer for those “who occupy themselves with the needs of the community b’emunah, ‘in faith'”. If the motive is right, the life of the congregation is holy.

    The point is made by Maimonides in his explanation of the law that says that using Temple property for a secular purpose requires the bringing of a trespass offering. The object that a person uses may be a mere inanimate brick or stone, but because God’s name is attached to it, it is holy. Any ordinary act becomes holy if it is dedicated to the name of God.

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