(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 21:06:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: Russell Hendel < email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Kedushah
Nanci Coughlin in Torah Forum Volume 4 Number 75 asks for a discussion of
Holiness as a fundamental Judaic concept. There are undoubtedly many
books on Jewish philosophy discussing this--I just wanted to bring some
PRIMARY sources that also shed great light on the meaning of holiness.
Rashi on Lev 19:2 explicitly says the fundamental idea:
* HOLINESS = Separation from sexual sins.
Rashi of course derives this from the Leviticus Rabbah. The Leviticus
Rabbah in turn derives this from a list of places where HOLY is used. In my
email list, Rashi Is Simple (http://www.shamash.org/rashi/v3b19-2.htm) I
further develop this Rashi by studying this list of places where holiness
occurs. Some examples are
* Ex 19:6,15--Separation from women is a prerequisite to prophecy
* Lev 18 vs 19:2--separation from sexual sins leads to holiness (Rashi)
* Lev 21:7-9--priesthood requires more separation from holiness
* Num 5 and 6--Nazaaritism helps abstain from sexual sin
* Dt 23:11,15--Holiness in war is achieved by covering up nocturnal emissions
However upon further examination we find HOLINESS also connected with
separation from forbidden foods (Dt 14 and Dt 14:2).
I therefore suggest that HOLINESS means the ability to separate from
PHYSICALITY (whether forbidden foods or relations)--Rashi on Lev 19:2 was
simply taking the best and most frequent example of physicality.
I once heard from the Rav, Rabbi Joseph B Soloveitchick that "Judaism is
not opposed to pleasure and in fact wants man to pursue pleasure. It rather
is opposed to "hypnotic pleasure"--the type of lust where one cannot tear
oneself way." Thus the above laws (forbidden foods and relations) should be
seen as helping us a certain degree of control over our emotions. This
freedom from physical compulsion is therefore the essence of holiness and
is a fundamental cornerstone of Judaism.
I hope this small introduction clarifies this important concept.
Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA RHendel @ mcs drexel edu
Moderator Rashi Is Simple, http://www.shamash.org/rashi/