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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Kdoshim

Kdoshim

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The Torah’s definition of holiness and sanctity, of dignity of self and others, of respect to one’s body and that of others, is in the ability to channel and control one’s physical desires. The Torah explicitly does not condone celibacy nor does it demand from human beings any degree of self-mortification or masochism. It does most certainly demand from us responsible and balanced human behavior.

It outlines a necessary and omnipresent nuance in our lives - in our mental and physical behavior. The rabbis have taught us that humans willingly sin only because a manner of distorted thinking -a type of insanity if you will - enters one’s mind and being.

Judaism has always fought the lonely and mainly unpopular battle against sexual immorality and flagrantly wanton behavior. From the Canaanites through the Greeks and the Romans, the debauchery of much of the Medieval Age and the current unchecked and unrestrained attitudes of modern society, traditional Judaism has decried lewdness and wanton self-gratification in sexual matters.

It has demanded that people be kdoshim - separated from immoral behavior and forbidden liaisons. It demands self-control, the avoidance of compromising and dangerous situations and a realization that ultimate good sense should triumph over momentary gratification.

Judaism imposes on us an unpopular stance, especially so in our current modern society. And yet over the long history of human society, it has proven to be the only correct guide for a healthy, happy family life and a more harmonious social compact between people.

Many people, Jews included, mock the protective measures enjoined by Jewish tradition to insure a society that aspires to be one of kdoshim. The mingling of the sexes in synagogue worship in the non-Orthodox world has not brought any great degree of comfort to those people who sit together. It has rather led to a drastic decline in synagogue attendance and participation in those groups.

The whole concept of modesty in dress, speech and behavior is unfortunately completely absent and alien in most of modern society. Not a day passes when we are not made aware of the presence of sexual misconduct among those that seemingly should know better.

Judaism preaches defensive behavior and the avoidance of situations that could lead to problematic circumstances. Such defensive measures are mocked and scorned by the progressive wise of the current world. Yet we are witness to the tragic personal and national consequences that results in life when such defensive measures are absent or ignored.

Mental health experts have told me that pornography, especially on the internet, is the newest serious addiction in our schools, making drugs old hat and no longer cool. Protected by the noble ideal of free speech, it ravages our society and creates a dangerously dysfunctional generation and society.

The entertainment industry in all of its facets has been polluted beyond recognition by its pandering to the basest animalistic desires of humans. Nevertheless, the Torah does not waver in its demand to us to be kdoshim, to swim against the tide and persevere in our age-long quest to be a holy and dedicated people.
Rabbi Dov Berl Wein
The rabbi of the "HANASI" congregation in Yerushalim, head of the Destiny foundation, former head of the OU, Rosh Yeshiva of 'sharai Tora" and rabbi of the "Beit Tora" congregation, Monsey, New York.
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