Monday, April 23, 2007

A Muse: Acharei Mot & Kedoshim

Whenever someone is called for an Aliya Latorah there is a recitation of the brachah “Asher Bochar Banu Mikol Haamim.” For many this is simply a statement as to the special relationship the Hebrew or Israelite has in God’s universe. For some this creates a bit of discomfort. There are Jews who have difficulty when trying to define what it means to be “The Chosen”, and at the same time not appear elitist. How are we to define our being “The Chosen”, and still fulfill Judaism’s universalistic message? And how do we reconcile our being “Chosen” with the more liberal, more politically correct community?

The portion of Kedoshim instructs us on how we are to conduct ourselves as individuals and as a people. Kedoshim means holy, but it also means separate and apart. Being “The Chosen” may mean that we are commanded to stand apart, and to be the clarion call for an ethical and moral code by which we are to live our lives. While other cultures and societies live and pattern themselves according to a moral and ethical standard, we are to raise the bar, set the standard, and serve as the standard bearers for living an ethical and moral life. By so doing we enrich the world and at the same time fulfill our mission of Tikkun Olam. Why is it uncomfortable to realize that in this sense we are “The Chosen”?