February 22, 2020

Responsibility is Holy

The Parsha of Kedoshim is concentrated holiness, a blueprint of how to live a holy life and be a conduit for blessing in the world. Reviewing Parsha Kedoshim this morning, I felt goosebumps on my arms. The sheer concentration of moral, ethical, and instructive teachings are overwhelmingly beautiful. There are fifty-four mitzvot in sixty-one sentences. It’s the highest concentration of mitzvot in the whole Torah.

Another approach to Parsha Kedoshim— which for me speaks so deeply this year — is the deep responsibility that each person must have to be accountable for their own actions. However, taking responsibility for our actions is not much in fashion these days. It’s always easier to blame someone else. It’s easier to look the other way after we leave a path of destructive behavior.

Hashem asks of us to live with the realization that every act, every word, carries with it enormous potential. How we wield this responsibility, or fail to acknowledge it, has repercussions for our lives and those around us. As anyone who has been connected to a loved one who has a dependency issue will tell you, it’s “we have a dependency issue.” A loved one’s substance abuse inflicts great harm on those around them.

But we don’t have to take it to the extreme harm of substance abuse.

Whenever we allow ourselves to give over to anger, emotional abuse, dishonesty, unethical behavior, we are passing on that to everyone around us.

We might think that we have a right to be mad — but do we have a right to make all the other people around us mad?

We may feel we got the short end of the deal, and so we act unethically to get back what we think is ours — do we have a right to deprive someone else of something that is theirs to make ourselves feels better?

We may have been abused — does that give us a right to abuse others?

Our Creator, has another vision for how we can live: responsible for our actions and responsible for others. It’s all there in sixty one sentences for us to read, learn, review, and live.

May God give us all the wisdom and strength to live in Holiness and walk in God’s Holy ways.