Shaarei Yosher – Qedoshim

Instead of discussing a comment by the Meshekh Chokhmah this week, I chose to present an idea from Rav Shimon Shkop’s introduction to Shaarei Yosher. The thoughts in this shiur are bits taken from a much longer treatment in my book, Widen Your Tent.

The chapter which consists of the introduction to Shaarei Yosher itself, with my translation, is available on-line here. The shiur covers text from what was printed in the original edition as the first paragraph (sec. 1.1 in my book), Widen Your Tent pp. 46-49.

Rav Shimon’s position, in outline form (the class has it in a discursive form):

  1. Qedoshim tihyu ki Qadosh Ani — be holy for I Am Holy (Vayiqra 19:2) is also a call to emulation, to emulate His Holiness.
  2. The medrash says this mitzvah is performed through perishus, which the Ramban tells us is to avoid even that which is not under any more specific prohibition. Indulgence for its own sake can make one a naval birshus haTorah — disgusting with [what otherwise would have been] the permission of the Torah.
  3. But 1 & 2 contradict! Hashem doesn’t need perishus!
  4. And look at the end of the medrash, “Could it truly be ‘like Me’?” No, Hashem’s qedushah is greater.
  5. Qedushah is thus commitment to a goal, which Hashem does Single “Mindedly”
  6. However, we set ourselves aside for that goal, and thus strategically, becoming holy means avoiding things that get in the way of accomplishing it. This is the medrash‘s perishus — the mitzvah isn’t to separate because that is being holy, but to separate as a means of becoming holy.
  7. Because of the gap between Hashem’s inherent Single Mindedness and our need for perishus to develop that dedication, “My Holiness is greater than yours.”
  8. And what goal is it we are to be committed to?
  9. Hashem’s motive for creation had to have been to benefit the other, because He has none of his own needs that creation could have met.
  10. This is why vehalakhta bidrakhav — going in His Ways, is a commandment to emulate the positive interpersonal middos Hashem’s actions model for us.
  11. Answering #8: The two emulations (#1 and #10) are the same thing. Holiness is being consecrated toward bringing Hashem’s Good to others.
  12. And even though at times that means perishus, when we need rest, relaxation, entertainment and enjoyment in order to be able to better benefit others, that R&R is also holy.
  13. And a potentially startling element to #12: Rav Shimon says that even the mitzvos between us and G-d are also only only in the fact that they help us be more effective at benefitting the other.




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