What does a holy people look like? Is the air above it pristine and carbon-free? Are the people working hard on goods to send abroad?
Can holiness be spotted from above or even at eye level? Can it be seen by a high powered microscope or detected by satellite imaging?
What is holy: A worthy pose or position?
2 For I YHWH, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; you will be holy, because holy am I.Leviticus 11
Try and imagine yourself in the countryside on a warm spring day
In an orange grove in spring – fully blooming and perfumed to perfection. No breath of air is without the heady aroma of the citrus blossoms. It overwhelms and enfolds you at the same instant.
Keep breathing slowly and notice the perfection all around: in the green leaves, in the bunches of white flowers and in the rosy sunlight as it filters through the branches warming softly–caressing whatever it touches.
2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
11 Into the walnut grove I went down, to look at the green shoot by the spring, to see whether the grapevine had budded, and the pomegranates were in flower.Song of Songs 6
The scent of the aroma is the same as holiness. It can be found, but neither captured nor bottled. Many try to replicate the scent but fail. It exists, as does holiness, in a space around us, even enfolds us, but we cannot make more than a feeble imitation.
Then the words resound once again:
7 Make yourselves worthy, and be holy; for I am the LORD your God.Leviticus 20
So we must continue to strive “to make ourselves worthy”, a never-ending struggle to be fair, to be just, to behave correctly – to become the scent that floats through the orange grove in spring!
Maybe this is the way to begin…
18 Love your neighbor as yourself: I am YHWH.Leviticus 19
Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021