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Be Holy - This Is The Time

Sometimes a boy will tell me that he is planning to attend the University of .... "But don't worry," I am assured, "there is a Hillel house on campus and an active Orthodox community."

But wait, I want to ask, IS THE ATMOSPHERE THERE HOLY?? Of course I don't ask. I don't like to put people on the spot and make them feel uncomfortable. Plus, I generally assume that people don't quite place the value of holiness on the top of their list of priorities.

But WE CAN BE HOLY! "Kidoshim Tihiyu" - You have the ability and the obligation to be holy. What does it mean to be holy? In order to answer that question I would need not a post on a blog but a full length book of 1000 pages - and that would only scratch the surface. So for now I will suffice with Rashi's definition [Vayikra 19/2]: To be pure in sexual matters. If you are male that means you may not see a women anything but fully clothed [mixed swimming is permitted if it means Ashkenazim and Sefardim together but certainly not men and women. If somebody has a source proving otherwise I would love to see it because I have proof that it is biblically prohibited], your thoughts must remain completely clean, your desires must be for Torah and prayer, your social interactions should be limited and formal etc. etc. The great kabbalist Rav Eliashiv [grandfather of the present Rav Eliashiv shlita] said that there is not enough soap in the world to clean up the filth created by ONE illicit thought. Even if one is married he must still be vigilant in the area of holiness by always having pure intentions when intimate with his wife. I would go more into detail but I am afraid that an in depth discussion would cause alleyways to become very popular.... I am looking more for purity than popularity. This is not the forum for such a discussion. [In the Women and Marriage section there are 2 shiurim from Reb Tzaddok on this topic.]

For a woman holiness means modesty in dress, demeanor, speech etc. She must always be aware that while her mind is not in the gutter, the fellow who sees her on the street is [very likely] a permanent dweller in that venue. Some woman have a hard time believing this. Men don't.

In our world where we are inundated with explicit material in almost every magazine, [one notable exception is "Olameinu". Is Olameinu still around? If so then Mendel the Mouse is second to none.] newspaper, television show, movie, internet site etc. how is it possible to remain pure and holy? You can't even walk down the street without seeing something inappropriate [except if you live in New Square or Meah Shearim].

Answer: Teshuva - Repentance! [So fitting for a New Years post]. The period of time from Shabbos Parshas Shemos until Parshas Tetzave is called "Shovavim Tat" [an acronymn for the Parshiyos. In a leap year Terumah and Tetzaveh are added.]. A special opportunity to rectify all of our sins in this area. YAY!!!! There is hope after all! "Ain yeush bi'olam klal" - No room for despair.

O.K. So what do people do for Shovavim?

More to come in the next post bez"h.

Wow...Olameinu. Good times.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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