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    Holy people – Mishpatim

    “Holy” is one of the traditional key-words of religion. There are holy people, holy places, holy days, holy thoughts.

    We tend to think that all these instances of holiness are rare and special, but as far as Judaism is concerned every human being can be holy, every place, every day, every thought, every relationship.

    The Torah says, anshei kodesh tih’yun li – “You (all of you) shall be holy people to Me” (Ex. 22:30). Translated literally, the Hebrew means, “Humans of holiness shall you be to Me”.

    The Kotzker Rebbe emphasised this word order when he said, “First be human, be a mensch – then be holy. A saint without humanity is no saint.”

    How does a person become holy? According to the parashah, by observing the dietary laws.

    They stand for respect for animals, but even more for respect for oneself. Deciding what to eat and what not to eat is an act of free-will. It says, “I have the capacity to make decisions. I have the courage to say yes and the nerve to say no.”

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