Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Parashah Emor - "Say" Vayikra (Leviticus) 21:2 - 24:23
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the Temple. Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly. And one cried unto another and said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the House was filled with smoke. Isaiah 6:1 - 4
"Holy, holy, holy”, the only attribute of HaShem that is repeated three times. If two repetitions are emphatic throughout the Word, how much more is the emphasis given to three times?
When I hear and/or read these three words together, I see these adjectives as an adjective, a comparative adjective, followed by a superlative adjective describing the Holy One, blessed be He. In essence I read it in my mind as follows: “Holy, holier, holiest.” There is none to compare to His holiness!
Vayikra 21:8b - “...for I the Lord, which sanctify you am holy.”
21:12b - “...I am the Lord.”
21:15b - “...for I the Lord do sanctify him.”
21:23b - “...for I the Lord do sanctify them.”
22:2b - “...I am the Lord.”
22:3b - “...I am the Lord.”
22:8b - “...I am the Lord.”
22:9b - “...I the Lord do sanctify them.”
22:16b - “...for I the Lord do sanctify them.”
22:31 - “Therefore shall you keep My commandments, and do them: I am the Lord.”
22:32 - 33 - Neither shall you profane My holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the Lord which hallow you, that brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord.”
23:22b - “...I am the Lord.”
23:43b - “...I am the Lord your God.”
23:22 - “You shall have one manner of law as well for the stranger as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God.”
I remember my mother telling us children to do one task or another. Sometimes if we questioned her about why we had to do this task she would reply, “Because I’m your mother, that’s why!” She would say that sometimes just because we kept up the badgering “Why questions”, but other times it was just out of shear frustration.
He is holy, I am not. No matter how much holiness is exhibited in my life, He is holier; however, no matter how holy mankind is able to become, He is the holiest. There is none equal.
According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary the first definition of holy is as follows: "Properly, whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin and sinful affections. Applied to the Supreme Being, holy signifies perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character; and man is more or less holy, as his heart is more or less sanctified, or purified from evil dispositions. We call a man holy,when his heart is conformed in some degree to the image of God, and his life is regulated by the divine precepts. Hence, holy is used as nearly synonymous with good, pious, godly." This corresponds to the meaning of its Hebrew equivalent - kadosh.
There are a number of different topics within this week’s readings - priestly mourning, priestly marriages, priests with blemishes, who may consume the holy things (offerings), sacrificial requirements of that which is offered, the feasts, shabbat, oil for the lamps of the tabernacle, the shewbread for the tabernacle, blasphemy of the Lord’s name, and murder are the major topics. Directions/instructions/commandments are given for each of these. Often we find the Lord closing a section with a statement regarding His holiness. Are we to do these things just because God says so? Unquestionably!
Unlike my mother and many others I have heard, He is not giving us these directives out of frustration, no, He is the holiest One and He knows the whys and the wherefores. Though there may be some holiness within us, our holiness is not comparative to His at all, except to show how little holiness we have compared to Him. He is the Creator and He knows how all things are to function. He is the Holy instructor, and we are His humble, uneducated children. There are right ways and wrong ways to do things. He will not tolerate, nor should He, actions done improperly. Ours is to simply obey.
I’d ask my mother why, and she’d tell me “because I’m your mother.” Before we even have opportunity to ask God why, He tells us directly, “I am the Lord.”