And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Isaiah 8:17


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Monday, May 22, 2017

Holiness

Jonathan Sacks

“If God were always visible, humans could not exist at all. “No one can see Me and live,” says God. “If we continue to hear the voice of God, we will die,” say the Israelites at Sinai. But if God is always invisible, hidden, imperceptible, then what difference does His existence make? It will always be as if He were not there. The answer to this dilemma is holiness. Holiness represents those points in space and time where God becomes vivid, tangible, a felt presence. Holiness is a break in the self-sufficiency of the material world, where infinity enters space and eternity enters time. In relation to time, it is Shabbat. In relation to space, it is the Tabernacle. These, in the Torah, are the epicentres of the sacred. We can now understand what makes them holy. Shabbat is the time when humans cease, for a day, to be creators and become conscious of themselves as creations. The Tabernacle is the space in which humans cease to be masters – “fill the earth and subdue it” – and become servants. Just as God had to practise self-restraint to make space for the finite, so human beings have to practise self-restraint to make space for the infinite. The holy, in short, is where human beings renounce their independence and self-sufficiency, the very things that are the mark of their humanity, and for a moment acknowledge their utter dependence on He who spoke and brought the universe into being. The universe is the space God makes for man. The holy is the space man makes for God. The secular is the emptiness created by God to be filled by a finite universe. The holy is the emptiness in time and space vacated by humans so that it can be filled by the infinite presence of God.”


― Jonathan SacksLeviticus:The Book of Holiness

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