Reply To: Kedusha

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rational jew

Kedusha is often misunderstood by many, in my opinion. It means something special and unique that requires appropriate respect. It may involve separation from the physical, but to define it as separation would be very inaccurate. It is easy to make that mistake as Rashi does quote a midrash that says that “kedoshim tihyu” here is referring to separation from unacceptable relationships and sin in general. The Ramban goes further and includes distasteful behaviour such as vulgar language and overeating, which are not explicitly prohibited by the Torah. It might sound like this means avoiding physical pleasure as much as possible. But with a little examination of the context of the use of the word “Kadosh” in general, it would seem like the a better approximate translation would be special, noble or dignified. Occasionally avoiding some pleasures are incidental to acting as a member of the elite group designated by Hashem Himself as those who must be an example to the world and demonstrate how to be His faithful servant and partner in creating a perfect world, a utopian society, where there is no evil to fear and all men seek only the best for his fellow man. Peace and love, laughter and joy, will replace the tears of today. We have already succeeded to a large degree in influencing the world to be so much kinder and more compassionate than even a century ago. There is much more to be done, but we are far away from the cruelty that was once the norm. War is slowly going out of fashion. Such a nation as ours must certainly act in a way that befits such a princely mission.
To describe that as separation from bodily pleasure is simply a misrepresentation. It is like describing the actions of someone who wants to be healthy strong, and live long (a very important goal mentioned in the Torah many times and should be common sense,) as avoiding physical pleasure. This could not be further from the truth! He may avoid many foods and overeating, keep a strict routine and engage in sometimes painful exercises, but he is doing all this in order to enjoy life more!
Similarly, a prince may deprive himself from many common indulgences in order to enjoy his position properly with the respect and dignity it deserves. Self sacrifice is sometimes the opposite of what is expected of him as a member of the royal family. Often he is required to indulge when it is inappropriate not to, such as regards to appealing clothing, appearance and general conduct such as how and what he eats.
To conclude, misunderstanding the meaning of Kedusha could very well lead to the opposite of Kedusha, not to mention unnecessary suffering to others.