Kedoshim: Holy

HolyKedoshim opens with a spectacular line: “Ye shall be holy, for I, Adonai your G-d, am Holy.” (Lev 19:2) We’re commanded to be holy. How can we be commanded to be holy? Some say that holiness results from our efforts to fulfill the other commandments. Were that true, why would we need a separate commandment to be holy?

What if the commandment to be holy means to make ourselves witnesses to holiness? What if it means that we are to become vessels in which to collect sparks of holiness? It would be both simple to understand and the work of a lifetime: become ready to experience holiness when, suddenly, unexpectedly, miraculously, we’re in its presence.

This is a new two-part ritual to prepare us to sight holiness. I imagine doing it in a group, with drums, the group split in two. One group repeats Part 1, mantra-style. The second group reads Part 2 in rhythm with Part 1. At intervals, the groups switch parts. To help you experience it, I’ve included a two-minute recording of Part 1, which you can play while you read Part 2.


Part 1
Drum beat.
Pulse beat.

Part 2
Holiness surrounds me,
Fills the empty space.
Wondrous luminosity.
Radiance and grace.
Pulsing. Pulsing.
Heavenly embrace.
Pulsing. Pulsing.
To this human place.

The Artist and the canvas,
The Sculptor and the stone,
The Composer and the notepad,
The Potter’s clay is thrown.
Creating the foundation.
Creating sky and earth.
Vast and small and present,
Yearning to be known.

Holiness is waiting.
Here and now and strong.
Waiting for a witness.
Hallelujah song.

Painted by Your light,
Sculpted, drafted, formed.
Story, dance and music.
Miracles performed.

My heart will be Your vessel,
A vessel for this light.
Collecting sparks and glimmers.
Marvelous delight.

Holiness is waiting.
Here and now and strong.
Waiting for a witness.
Hallelujah song.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

Postscript: Rhyming is not my “go to” poetic tool, although there are a few powerful exceptions, such as “Come Walk.” Thank you to Rabbi Zoë Klein for her suggestion to use rhyme to solidify the pulse of Part 2, daring to play with — and to send me — a few of the verses rewritten to get the idea across. Check out her debut novel, Drawing in the Dust. As my first effort creating this kind of ritual, I’d also appreciate your comments.

This is posted for the double portion Acharey-Kedoshim 5775. Note that the Torah readings in Israel are currently out of sync with the rest of the world until May 23, 2015, Parahsat Bamidbar. I’m posting prayers related to the Torah portion on the earlier Israeli cycle.

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