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Haftarah: Kedoshim: The Violence of No Sanctity

Ezekiel 22:1-16: “Will you judge (Verse 2)?” can also be read, “Are you prepared to involve yourself in this issue?” (Rav Breuer on Yechezkel) “The city of bloodshed,” a city from which the soul has been banished (Maharal; Derush al haTorah)


God’s introduction of the prophecy, asking Ezekiel if he is prepared to get involved, is a lesson in what he must do to help a city from which the soul has been banished by the people’s actions. It will not be sufficient for Ezekiel to rebuke without becoming involved. He must rebuke as one actively involved in the community.

What creates an environment that makes it impossible for a soul to remain within the city walls? “Father and mother have they slighted among you; toward the stranger they have acted oppressively in your midst; orphan and widow have they wronged within you (Verse 7).” “Among you,” “in your midst,” and, “within you.” It was not only the slight to parents, wronging the widow and orphan, and oppressing the stranger; it was that these things were happening right in front of you and you did not get involved! A soul cannot thrive in an environment in which no one stand up against such slights, wrongs, and oppression! You are banishing your own souls.

“My sanctities have you spurned; My Sabbaths have you desecrated. Talebearers were among you, in order to shed blood, upon the mountains they ate among you; evil plans did they lay in your midst (verses 8-9).” Again, “among you,” and, “in your midst.” Where were you? You cannot feel your souls any longer for you have banished them. You permitted an environment diametrically opposed to spirituality.

“Then I shall scatter you among the nations and disperse you among the lands and remove all your contamination from you (Verse 15).” Why is God’s response to scatter and disperse us? How will that remove Israel’s contamination?

The issue was “among you,” “within you, “in your midst.” The issue was whether we would be able to begin to build a sanctified community by fighting against slights, wrongs, oppression, and talebearing. Sanctity, a place where a soul can thrive and grow, develops when the community strives for holiness in the way people deal with other people. Sanctity begins when a community rises up to say, “Such behavior has no place in our community.”

When we keep our distance from people who slight their parents, take unfair advantage of the vulnerable, win friends by marketing lishon harah, we pull the community apart. The natural consequence is for us to be scattered and dispersed. We disconnected from each other. We cleaved ourselves in half when we banished our souls. We lost all connections.

When we reach out to each other to connect while scattered and dispersed, we begin to reconnect. What do we share? Our souls. Reconnecting to each other, reconnecting to our souls, creates the beginnings of sanctity; our ability to build a community that is holy in the way it relates to its members. “Then you shall be caused to re-inherit yourself in the sight of the nations, and you shall know that I am God (Verse 16).”

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