Thursday, 30 June 2011

Chukat-What did he do wrong?


Whenever I read the Sedra of Chukat I feel vexed for Moshe Rabbeinu- The Raya Mehemna- the true Shepherd of Israel.

Miriam dies- The well dries up, and as our sages say that the portable well accompanied the Israelites in their travels was in her merit, so now they are without water to drink. We encounter the Israelites ganging up against Moshe and Aharon:

“Why did you bring us out of Egypt to this bad place- it is not a place of vegetation- fig, vines and pomegranates and there is no water to drink.”

Moshe and Aharon fall on their faces in resignation.

G-d gives them the following instructions:

“Take the staff, gather the people, speak to the rock in their presence; and the rock will produce water, and you shall give to drink to the community and their animals.”

So Moshe takes the staff- as commanded, gathers together the people around the rock, nothing wrong so far- and he speaks to them;

“Listen here you rebels- Is it from this rock that we will bring forth water?”

Moshe lifts up his hand and he hits the rock twice with the staff, water gushes forth and the Israelites and their animals drink.

G-d says to Moshe and Aharon: “because you did not believe in me to sanctify me in the eyes of all of Israel therefore you will not bring this community to the land which I have given to them.”

It’s harsh and very final:- Moshe because of this singular sin here will not be the one to lead Israel to the promised land.

Moshe is the one who had brought them out of Egypt, and he is the one to have experienced the closest ever relationship with G-d –panim el panim- but, with all that behind him, he will not be the one to bring them to the land.

But it’s difficult really to put your finger on what Moshe exactly did wrong.

He was commanded to take the staff, to gather the people together- which he did-and even if you were to say as many of our commentators say (among them Rashi)-that he was commanded to speak to the rock not to hit the rock which he did twice; Nevertheless, it is hardly a serious enough crime to deny him entry into the land.

So he was under pressure, he didn’t listen to the instructions properly. He even had a precedent to strike the rock; because that was what he had done 38 years previously at Refidim when the waters gushed forth from the rock.

So we struggle to find a real cause for the harsh rebuke of Moshe:

The Ibn Ezra suggests that his sin was that he hit the rock twice, something that was unnecessary for Moshe to do.

The Ramban and Rabbenu Chananel suggest that his sin was saying: Listen you rebels- is it from this rock that we will bring forth water? They say that through these few words he implies that they – Moshe and Aharon are the miracle workers- he excludes G-d from the equation, and therefore misses out of the opportunity to create a kiddush Hashem-a public sanctification of G-d’s name- that this is G-d who has done this miracle.

I find this answer shver-difficult because there are many instances in the Torah where Moshe speaks in the first person-or leaves out the name of G-d in his communication with Israel, yet he is not chastised for so doing.

Don Itzchak Abarbanel- the famous Spanish commentator who lived at the time of the expulsion, has a novel explanation: he says that in actuality Moshe didn’t deserve to be punished for this sin alone. But really he deserved to have been punished for the sin of the spies 38 years earlier- it was Moshe who had sent them out and he was therefore complicit in their attempt to dissuade B’nai Yisrael from entering the land. G-d- says Abarbanel, did not want Moshe to be punished together with the spies but was waiting for a good reason to chastise him independently. Therefore G-d waited until the incident of the striking of the rock to punish Moshe for what he had done earlier. Once again- it’s difficult- was Moshe so guilty with the sending out of the spies all those years earlier, that he should be denied entry into the land?

No- all fascinating responses but I’m not obligated to buy them.

Furthermore, there has to be a message for me in 21st Century Britain to take out from this episode- and from all these responses that I have mentioned before, it’s not there, there’s nothing for me.

However I would like to put forward the view of Rambam- Reb Moshe Ben Maimon in his book Shemona Perakim- eight chapters, called that because it has 8 chapters- and he says the following.

Moshe did wrong because he lost it- he blew it. First he spoke to Israel in a derogatory way when he said Shimu na hamorim - listen here, you rebels. Then he takes the staff and instead of speaking to the rock as commanded, in a temper he struck the rock twice. Unacceptable behaviour for the Leader of the Children of Israel- and for that reason G-d says to Moshe because you did not believe in me to sanctify me in the eyes of all Israel, you will not bring them to the land.

Notice the words:- belief and sanctification of G-d are brought into question when one loses control.

In defence of Moshe: He was really provoked, and it wasn’t the first time he had been put under such tremendous pressure. Umpteen times we read of the Israelites complaining about the lack of food, water, shelter- yet for Moshe this was the last straw. And Moshe didn’t hurt anybody, at most he vented his anger on a rock- an inanimate object- hardly something to deny him entry to the Promised land.

But for Moshe even though he had been pushed he should not have lost control. There is no excuse for a man in the position of Moshe

All of our Sages tell us that we need to keep far away from kaas-anger- to the extent that our Rabbis say in the Gemara: Kol hakoes keilu oved avodah zarah- you lose your temper it is as if you have served idols.

Why? What has idol worship got to do with it?

Because when I lose it- I become the centre of my own worship. How could that have been done against me- How could he/she do that to me? We lose control and we forget Hashem – faith and trust goes flying out of the window and we can do anything in a fit of temper. Now we understand why G-d could say to Moshe after he struck the rock- because you did not believe in me to sanctify me in the eyes of Israel.

Says Rambam in Hilchot Deot when it comes to kaas- anger there is no derech haemtzai- no middle way- we need to keep away from it to the other extreme.

I might answer that I’m only human, but then again that’s not a good enough excuse.

The Torah is everlasting and the message is always here.

Shabbat Shalom

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Round Up


It is very rare indeed that I watch a movie and I am so moved to the extent that it instigates me to write about it on this blog. The Round Up (la rafle) is such a movie. A French film (with subtitles) about the true story of the events leading up to the early morning of 16th July 1942 in Paris which was; the rounding up of 14 000 Jews in Paris and their being sent to the Velodrome d’Hiver.

The conditions in the Velodrome were appalling. The Jews remained there for eight days, without much food and water –only that provided by the Red Cross and the Pompiers, with only ten toilets, of which only five were in any working order.

Following this, they were sent from Gare d’Austerlitz to the internment camp at Drancy. And from there they were deported to the east-and we all know what that meant.

The movies focus is on a few individuals and specifically the experiences of an eleven year old boy; Joseph Weismann, whose entire family were rounded up on that morning. Jo was the only child out of 4051 children to survive by escaping from the Drancy camp. He is still alive today and was interviewed extensively for this film. The strange thing about the film was that even though it had been advertised in the Jewish Chronicle, there were very few movie theatres where it was showing, and where we went there were only four other people present!

A few points to ponder: The Vichy government under Marshall Petain deported 75000 Jews from France, many of whom did not survive. The complicity of the French is a stain on their national character. The police and other organisations were all guilty in their involvement.

However, with all that you cannot forget the French citizens who did come to the aid of the Jews. Over 10000 Jews were hidden on that morning of the rafle du vel d’hiver. Many people risked their own lives to help save Jewish lives.

In my opinion The Round Up is a film well worth seeing. The acting and cinematography is superb and the dialogue is excellent. Go and see it and tell me what you think, but don’t take your wife out to see it on your wedding anniversary.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Korach and his motley crew


If there is a Sedra which could be subtitled the self hating Jew- then this would be the one. Korach, the man of yichus, of pedigree, a great grandson of Levi is not a happy man, and therefore challenges the leadership of Moses and his brother Aaron. At first glance his assertion against their management system seems to be justified. If all the B’nai Yisrael are holy, and G-d is in their midst, and in His eyes we are all equal, why Moses do you lift yourself up higher than the rest of the people? Korach appears to be the champion of democracy. Why should Moses and Aaron be the leaders and everybody else having to follow their authority unchallenged?

Yet we only need to see the events that unfurl in the sedra to know that Korach was wrong. On the first verse where it says that Korach took, our commentators notice that it does not identify exactly the thing, the person or the subject to be taken. Rashi famously remarks in a comment which reveals the true intention of Korach, that the verse did not need to record what he took because he took himself to one side, to cause a rift in the community. Korach was serving himself to see how much he could take out of the system, clothing himself in a cloak of respectability he tries to cover up his true intentions. Even his unique name implied what really were his objectives. Korach is derived from korcha which means to split and cause a rift. It also comes from the root word Kar- to be cold, because when one splits and divides the community one remains a cold, detached and aloof person.

The Mishne in Ethics of the Fathers says that the archetypal case of a controversy that is not for the sake of Heaven is the argument of Korach and his community, which no longer endures. The Talmud comments that there is no other case in history where a major challenge to authority in the Jewish world would take place, quite a statement, considering the many controversies in Jewish history throughout the ages. Perhaps we can reconcile this with the fact that we have had many cases of challenge to authority of the kind of Korach, but none where it has been so glaringly obvious that the motivation for the dispute was clearly for self serving reasons. The message is simple; a person working for and on behalf of the community needs to be constantly self critical and aware of his own motivation behind pursuit of controversy. Shabbat Shalom

Monday, 13 June 2011

Anim Zemirot

videoToday I want to draw your attention to one of our popular Tefillot.

Anim Zemirot-which is to be found on Page 458 in the Chief Rabbis Siddur.

The truth is that we recite this every Shabbat and Yom Tov and it comes at the end of our prayers. So, we’re waiting for the Kiddush or Shabbat Kodesh Programme, and we tend to say the words with haste without really cogitating on their meaning and true value.

We use many tunes for this hymn please listen to my video attachment above.

But in actuality this hymn is one of the most beautiful praises of G-d which defies a true explanation. Let me just place before you a few questions and I will hope that by the end of this little talk I will bring you a little bit closer to understanding what this song is about.

Firstly: what a strange thing that the song uses very deep mystical and anthropomorphic themes in relation to G-d. Something I better point out can be very dangerous.

Ziknah beyom Din uvacharut beyom kerav – keish milchama yadav lo rav- Appearing as aged on Judgement day, and as young at a time of battle, as a man of war His arm is all encompassing.

Another verse: Tzach veadom- He is pure white and crimson, His clothes red, He treads the wine press as He comes from Edom.

The Jewish comprehension of G-d is that He has no likeness or form. The Torah and our Neviim and Ketuvim are full of physical metaphors to describe G-d. Indeed our Sages say that Torah medaberet kelashon bnei adam- the Torah speaks in the language of man. Therefore as Rambam points out in his Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah; that the Torah employs these anthropomorphic descriptions in order that we are able to comprehend how G-d reveals Himself to us. However he warns these are only descriptions and that G-d is in no way physical. Yet, Anim Zemirot throughout uses these biblical physical metaphors to describe Him?

Second: If you look carefully there is an alphabetical acrostic (that means the beginning of each verse begins with a letter of the Aleph Beth in order) starting from the fourth verse; Asaprah kevodecha, this continues all the way to Tehilati. Then the last four verses are not in alphabetical order. This is quite strange. It was very usual for our songs and prayers to be written in Alphabetical order as a way by which it would be easier to remember- especially pre-Siddur days- but why was it necessary to break at the beginning and at the end?

Third: If you look at the number of verses there are 31 verses recited by reader and congregation in alternate verses. The two verses at the end Lecha Hashem Hagedulah and Mi Yemalel were added at a later date, we know that- because in earlier Siddurim they are not there. Indeed I have a Siddur at home from 1798 which leaves out the last two verses. So it’s very strange to have a song which is uneven 31 verses but not 32.

Fourth: The entire song is in the first person singular: Anim zemirot veshirim eerog- I will sing sweet psalms and I will weave songs to You for whom my soul longs. However, our Tefillot in general are normally in the plural not in the singular. Look at our prayers from the Amidah….Refaeinu Hashem veneraphe- Heal us our Lord and we shall be healed. Selach lanu avinu ki chatanu Forgive us father for we have sinned. The requests are all in the plural because we are supposed to always pray in the plural to include the Rabbim- the community in our Tefillot. Why here when we ask to comprehend G-d is this in the singular?

I’m not going to be able to answer all these questions now- and if anybody wants to help me and come up with some good suggestions please contact me later.

But I think we need to understand where this is coming from.

Anim Zemirot was composed by Rabbi Yehudah HaChassid from Regensburg in Germany in the late twelfth Century. He was the leader of a group of pietists called the Chassidei Ashkenaz. Not to be confused with the Chassidim of today whose roots come from the late 18th Century.

The Jews of his time were living in a very difficult situation. It was the post early crusade era- where Jews of Germany had been caught up in the aftermath of the first and second crusades. Entire communities had been destroyed. The Jews of Germany needed a spiritual movement to take them out of their physical quagmire. Comes along Rabbeinu Yehudah Hachassid and initiates a new movement called the Chassidei Ashkenaz which placed a strong emphasis on personal piety. He actually wrote a book called the Sefer Chassidim, which was a compendium of pietistic practices and behaviour.

He composed the Anim Zemirot which is also called Shir HaKavod- the song of glory- Indeed it is called in early Siddurim the Shir Hakavod lerabbeinu Yehudah hachassid meregensburg, and throughout there is the request to be shown the Kavod- Glory of Hashem.

But I think we’ve got a problem with that.

Look into the Torah in Sedra Ki Tissa, Moshe- our greatest leader is up the Mountain, praying on behalf of the Bnei Yisrael who have sinned with the Golden Calf.

Moshe says to G-d- Hareini na et kevodecha- “Please show me Your Glory!!”

G-d responds: “You can see My goodness- and my favour and my mercy but you will not be able to see my face. For no human can see my face and live”.

Ultimately we can never truly comprehend the Glory of G-d. Even Moshe Rabbenu who was up there on the Mountain was denied access to Hashem’s glory. So how can we expect to reach that level of spirituality to which even Moshe Rabbeinu was denied?

The answer is that this is exactly the message of Anim Zemirot the Song of Kavod. With all the great imagery and metaphors that the song uses, nevertheless our language is too finite to truly comprehend the infinitude of G-d.

That’s the reason why we have 31 verses and not 32. We cannot quite make it to reach Hashem’s Kavod. Kavod is gematria 32. Words, our language, fail us to truly reflect and understand His Glory.

That’s the reason why it’s in the singular because to experience His glory is a personal quest.

And that’s the reason why many communities have the tradition to get a child under Bar Mitzvah to chant Anim Zemirot. Usually a child under Bar Mitzvah is not allowed to lead the community in prayer.

Why is this, the exception? A suggestion is because the Shir Hakavod is such a high prayer of purity- that we need the innocence and purity of childhood to truly reflect the spiritual heights of Anim Zemirot.

Friday, 10 June 2011

What is important to you as a Jew?


We have a wonderful little tradition that has developed over the past few years in my Shul, and this is that every few months or so we invite school children from the local non Jewish schools to come and look around the Shul.

It really is something I enjoy doing.

It creates a bond with the local wider community. The children get to meet me and see that the Rabbi is a half-normal human being and we really have fun. They get to see the Aron Hakodesh and the Sifrei Torah close up and they get to learn about the lay out of the Shul and they even get the opportunity to blow the Shofar.

One other thing they do is towards the end of the visit they ask me questions. Any question you can think of about Judaism. It’s something I really enjoy. Some of the questions can be quite funny like Rabbi Black – where is the statue of Jesus? But others are quite profound and can really catch me off guard, like what is the symbolism of the Magen David- or why do men and women sit separately in the Synagogue?

Recently I had the St Bernadette Primary School from Kenton. These children are really good and excellently behaved, and are a credit to their school. You’ve got to listen to the question this young girl-ten years old asked me about Judaism.

“What Rabbi Black”- she asked, “is the most important thing to you as a Jew?”

Now- that in the words of my Yeshiva Bachur son is a bomber kasha-an excellent question- and it caught me quite off guard. Within a few seconds I gave her an answer which I will share with you at the end of this article.

But it actually got me thinking.. If I were to ask you what is the most important thing to you as a Jew? What would you answer me? What are the things that make you tick? What are the things that move you as a Jew?

There is a famous Medrash that describes the morning when the Torah was given at Har Sinai.

The Medrash explains that G-d was about to give the Torah at Har Sinai and expecting to find all the B’nei yisrael waiting with preparation and anticipation for G-d to give them the Torah. Instead he found them geschloffen- fast asleep. Here the Torah is about to be given- the greatest event of all- Yet B’nei Yisrael are asleep-

So what does G-d do? He rudely wakes them up with the Kol Shofar Chazak Me-od the very strong sound of the shofar and with the Kolot uverakim- the thunder and lightning.

Now is not the time to be sleeping. Now is the time to be awake and alive to accept the words of the Torah and the covenant with G-d.

For this reason the Minhag has developed that many stay up the night of Shavuot studying Torah in what has become known as the Tikun Leil Shavuot- which literally means-the Fixing of the night of Shavuot. That one time when we were supposed to be up ready and early to receive the Torah but we were not – we blew it, and therefore we stay up to make amends for that one time.

But I think there is a deeper message here, and that is... sleep symbolises our apathy, indifference – our own sluggishness when it comes to Judaism. Things are going on around us and we’re fast asleep. Yet we’ve really got to be awake. Sometimes we’ve got to act in response. What does it take to be revived from our spiritual inertia?

Judaism can sometimes be under attack. What does it take to awaken me from my lethargy to react in some way? Or is the issue at hand really not that important enough for me to do anything about it?

I think of that heart wrenching scene from Fiddler on the roof. When Tevye’s daughter Chava comes and tells her father that she wants to marry the Polish peasant Perchik and he is incensed. The camera zooms in on his thoughts. Sometimes he says if I bend too far – I just might crack.

What are the cracking points for us?

Shechita in the past few months has been under threat in Brussels. They want to label Shechita products by saying that these are killed from animals that haven’t been stunned. It seems at first glance a reasonable request. However, I just want to tell you that if legislation would have gone through it would literally shecht the kosher meat market in the UK. Indeed in the whole of Europe.

Yet – as Henry Grunewald said it didn’t go through this time but, they will try again.

But how many people were moved enough during the recent Shechita crisis to write a letter to their local MEP? Or does Shechita not matter that much? After all there’s nothing stopping us from becoming Vegetarians? Or is this an attack on my religious rights to practice as a Jew in freedom in this country?

Am I moved enough to act?

What about Israel? I think of the recent trouble on Israel’s Northern border when Syrians were trying to break through the fence to the Golan. It was this past Sunday and the eyes of the world were trained on Israel to watch how they reacted in light of the infiltrations on the border. Ten people were allegedly killed by the Israelis. The Israelis say that it was a land mine on the Syrian side of the border.

At the very same time, sixty people were being gunned down in Syria in two northern cities by that oppressive regime which has been the ruling power for the past four decades, yet there was no television coverage and almost silence in the media about a major news item. You see the media bias? Did anybody contact the BBC to complain about the disparity of coverage? Or is Israel not that important enough an issue for us to be up in arms about? After all we’re living in our comfortable homes and driving our fast cars –what difference does it make to me what happens in Israel?

I remember when I was in IJPS – Ilford Jewish Primary School and in 1973, the Yom Kippur war, there was one teacher who was so incensed about what was going on, he got up and left and went to Israel to volunteer for the army.

How many of us are moved about Israel to the extent that we would act on our thoughts?

And there are other issues. The threat to Brit Milah in San Francisco and Santa Monica for any child under the age of eighteen- not to be taken lightly, because if it passed it could threaten circumcision in the United states- full stop!

Or what about the demolishing of our Jewish values as witnessed in a Liberal synagogue in Manchester last week?- (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about just read the JC from last week, I don’t need to spell it out)

It reminds me of the story illustrated by Rabbi Twersky in his book Generation to Generation where he tells the story of a very frum sick girl in a shtetl in Europe who was told by her doctors that in order to get better she would have to eat pig. So she goes to the local Rabbi who tells her that of course- it’s Treif –it’s not kosher but for purposes of pikuach nefesh she should eat. And she says that she agreed to eat it but only if it was Shechted and salted first.

The end of the day the Rabbi said to her- a pig is treif and you can’t make something treif kosher!!

So - we know the issues-what concerns affect you enough about Judaism-to make you respond?

I now return to my response to the young girl to her question.. What is the most important thing to you as a Jew?

My answer to her was as follows that my children will be brought up to love their Judaism and that they will share and inherit my values and I will be able to transmit those ethics and values to them. To me that is more important than anything!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Is Mount Sinai an impostor?


On Shavuot we celebrate the most momentous event in our history the Zeman Matan Torateinu- the time of the giving of the Torah.

Yet, a comment that I would like to make is that- in the Jewish world we don’t make any big deal about Mt Sinai.

If I were to travel deep into the Sinai desert to find the Mountain, I would come across- in the place which is presumed to be Mt Sinai; St Catherine’s monastery on its base and, as I climb up the 3750 steps to its summit, I would discover an Islamic shrine and a Greek Orthodox Church. However, in that place where we Jews witnessed the revelation of G-d – experienced the greatest event in our history, there’s no Synagogue or Jewish plaque to commemorate the event. Indeed how many Jews can say they have been to Mt Sinai?

Of course there is room to say that the Mt Sinai or Jabal Musa- as the Bedouin call it, in the Sinai Peninsula is not the right place. Look at the story in the Torah, Mt Sinai is synonymous with Har HaElokim- the Mountain of G-d. Moshe was tending his sheep in the desert near Midian, and he goes up the Mountain, according to the Midrashic account he was running after a stray sheep, and on the Mountain he sees the burning bush:

Asher einunu ukal- that was not consumed

He was told by G-d:

Shaal naalecha me-al raglecha”- “remove your shoes from your feet, for the place upon which you stand is holy ground”.

Important information- the place is holy ground.After G-d had delivered His message of salvation to Moshe, He said the words:

“Behotziacha et ha-am mimitzraim ta-avdun et haelokim al hahar hazeh”

“When you take out the people from Egypt- you will serve G-d on this mountain”.

Notice the accentuation: The mountain in the wilderness, near Midian, where Moshe had witnessed the Burning Bush, would become the Mountain on which the Children of Israel would serve.

The Mt Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula could be an impostor, it is far too removed from historic Midian to be the place where the Torah was given. Midian was near Edom – near what we call today Southern Jordan. Indeed it was Yitro the Priest of Midian who came to Moshe in the desert to support him at Sinai, if it was a long slog why would he come that far?

Indeed there is no archaeological evidence of an encampment of 1 ½ million people or thereabouts that took place around the area of what is known as Mt Sinai. Remember, they remained there from Rosh Chodesh Sivan in the first year till 20th Iyar in the second year. A period of eleven months and twenty days- they must have made quite an impact on the immediate environment. And in the Torah, after crossing the Red Sea it doesn’t say that they turned south to Mt Sinai.

So it makes sense that the place which is thought to be Mt Sinai is not the right place.

Archaeologists have found a number of places that could be good contenders for Mt Sinai: in the Negev there is a site called Har Karkom where lots of little encampments around the mountain have been found. Or in Saudi Arabia there is a now dormant volcano with an abundance of archaeological artefacts and encampments, dating from that era. Or in Petra there is a mountain call Jabal al Medlich which could also be a good contender.

However with all this information-the truth is that in the Jewish world we don’t make a great big fuss about the site of Mt Sinai. In any of these places there is no plaque to say that Here G-d gave the Torah to the Jews and we don’t go en masse on religious pilgrimages to any of these sites.

Why?

Look at the Torah reading from Shavuot: It was the third day of Sivan; Moshe was instructed by G-d to set boundaries around the Mountain saying:

“Hishamru lachem alot bahar- unegoah bekatzehu” “Beware of ascending the mountain or touching its edge- whoever touches the mountain shall surely die”.

“A hand shall not touch it, for he shall surely be stoned or thrown down- whether animal or person he shall not live”.

Quite heavy stuff.

G-d is about to give Torah on Mt Sinai; The Mountain is Holy. Whilst revelation is taking place you’re not allowed up the Mountain, it’s a capital offence punishable by death.

But read on...”Bimshoch hayovel hemah yaalu bahar” “Upon an extended blast of the Shofar –they may ascend the mountain”.

From death to life. After revelation is over, and the all clear blast of the Shofar is sounded not only do they not receive any punishment, but they may ascend the Mountain. The mountain is no longer holy. Revelation, the giving of the Torah is over.

Normal service resumes.

During the time of the Giving of the Torah- the revelation at Sinai –when G-d’s Shechina- His Divine presence was there, then the Mountain was holy, but after revelation the mountain goes back to normal. And for that reason when G-d revealed His presence at the Burning Bush on that very same Mountain He told Moshe to remove his shoes because it was holy ground. It was a time when the Shechina was present, but once revelation had ended the Mountain no longer had the holy status.

I think this gives us tremendous insight into the nature of holiness. The mountain in and of itself is not intrinsically holy. We do not make idol worship out of a mountain.

Whilst the Shechina is there- the Mountain is holy. Remove the Shechina and there is no longer Kedusha, and for that reason we no longer make a big deal of Sinai.

So what’s the message?

It’s either got to be input from G-d or from man to provide the Kedushah. If the input ceases then there is no kedusha.

Example: A Sefer Torah is written by an expert scribe called a sofer Mumcha. But what happens if it is written by somebody who has a wonderful handwriting- His Ketav is beautiful-and he’s an expert at his craft - but he actually doesn’t believe in the words of the Torah? He’s a skeptic and he actually voices his non belief. The Halacha is that the Torah is Passul- it cannot be used – because it has no Kedushah.

What happens if you have a beautiful Shul- architecturally very attractive history oozing out of its very fabric. But if the Shul is not used for Kedushah- we don’t use it to bring the Shechinah here- we don’t daven properly with kevana or we don’t learn Torah- so a Shul also can lose its Kedusha status.

Perhaps that was why G-d gave us the Torah in a desert on a mountain to teach us that we need to bring the Kedushah in our lives – in our homes- wherever we might be- by our own contribution- by making this world a place worthy of Kedushah

Chag Sameach