Adar 5764 – Explaining the Concept of Kedushah

1 Adar 5764
Explaining the Concept of Kedushah

Dear Rabbi Orlofsky,

I teach eighth grade girls in a an out of town Bais Yaakov. One of my more worldly, bright students asked me the following mystical question: What is kedusha? What does it mean that someone is kadosh? She felt that the right person can truly express exactly what it is. I was wondering if you could help me find the right way to answer.

Thank you.
Seminary Withheld


Dear Linda,

Rashi at the beginning of sefer kedoshim calls kedusha prishus, separation. Anything that has been set aside is kadosh. Hekdesh is designated for the bais hamikdash, kiddushin designates a woman as being exclusively set aside for her husband and even the term kedasha means a woman who has been set aside for immoral purposes.

The Mesillas Yesharim describes the highest level we can reach as kedusha. This is a level, wherein he says a person can walk “in the land of the living (presumably olam haba) here in this world”. The Ramchal says that everything in this world wants to serve the adom hashalem “who has been sanctified with the holiness of the Creator”.

The way I have always understood this is based on an incident that happened years ago in shul at Shabbos mincha. The gartel of the sefer Torah broke and the gollel seemed at a loss what to do. One of the mispallelim stood up and with a flourish whisked off his neck tie and offered it to bind the sefer Torah. After Shabbos he returned to retrieve his tie. The Rabbi told him that it wasn’t that simple. His tie was no longer a tie – it was now the gartel of the sefer Torah. A mundane object had been elevated to a status of kedusha because it was designated to serve a holy object.

So too, a person who through the process of elevating himself through the love and awe of Hashem reaches beyond the confines of this physical world, can become an object of kedusha. Once that occurs, whatever he eats is like a korban, whatever he drinks is like nesachim, whatever he uses becomes elevated to be an object of kedusha.

We have the ability, through our thoughts and actions to elevate the things around us and turn them from mere physicality to objects of spirituality. Then the experience we experience from things in this world is no longer physical, but rather a spiritual experience.

I hope this clarifies things a bit.

Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky