“Be holy, etc.!” Vayikra Rabbah 24,9, considering the words: [ki kadosh ani], “For I am holy,” asks whether it is possible that the Torah demands that we, the Jewish people, are to be as holy as He is? the Midrash’s answer is that, on the contrary the words [ki kadosh ani], indicate that true sanctity is something reserved for the Creator alone….
Recognition of the greatness of G’d inevitably leads to an awareness of the puniness of man when compared to Him. It is the awareness of our own limitations that gradually brings us closer to understanding and emulating the virtue of the [ein sof], ultimate form of humility. The school of Hillel, disciples of Hillel who was world renowned for his personal modesty and humility, followed their mentor when they formulated the concept that a spark of holiness feeds upon itself and makes ripples like a pebble thrown on the surface of the water.
This idea is also reflected in the opening words of our portion [kedoshim tihyu ], “commence the process to become holy, as it is continuous and feeds on itself.” An additional factor helping you to progress along this route is [ki kadosh ani], “for I am holy,” i.e., when you contemplate My holiness this will inspire you to emulate My holiness to the extent that it is humanly possible. In fact, G’d says that His own holiness will increase proportionate to the amount of holiness to be found amongst His people on earth.
–R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev Kedushat Levi,* pp.578-579
Ripple in still water
when there is no pebble tossed
nor wind to blow
Reach out your hand
if your cup be empty
If your cup is full
may it be again
Let it be known
there is a fountain
that was not made
by the hands of men
–from “Ripple,” by Robert Hunter
(music by Jerry Garcia)
* Please see Source Materials for full citation and additional information.
Click on the “WeeklyTorah” tag for more resources on the weekly portion throughout the year, or on a portion name for parashah-specific notes. (The series began with Numbers; posts for Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus are being drafted, week-by-week.) You can also zero-in on particular types of “Opening the Book” posts by clicking Language and Translation, Something to Notice, a Path to Follow, or Great Source in the tag cloud.