Tag Archives: sacred

What Doesn’t Kill You

:‫אחד המרבה ואחד הממעיט ובלבד שיכוין לבו לשמים. — ה‬

Whether one does a lot or a little, it is equal, as long as his intention is for the sake of Heaven – 5b

In his commentary to Hilchos Krias Sh’ma, the Or Zarua writes: “One who toils in Torah to the best of his ability might nevertheless feel that he has accomplished very little. He should know, however, that as long as he has done his best, he has earned the same reward as another who has toiled in Torah and who has accomplished much. The reward is commensurate with the effort. (Avos 5:23). The Yerushalmi even says that if one person toiled in Torah day and night for one hundred years, while another studied Torah to the utmost of his abilities for a shortened lifespan of twenty years, God rewards them equally.”

The Or Zarua concludes and rules that the same measure is used in terms of giving tzedaka and for all meritorious acts. When a person honestly does whatever he can and works to the fullest extent of his abilities, God judges it as if he has accomplished what is expected from him, and God will reward him accordingly.

Daf Yomi Digest
Gemara Gem
“To focus one’s heart for the sake of Heaven”
Berachos 5

I suppose this could be condensed down to something like, “do your best” or some similar statement. The “Gemara Gem,” from a Christian point of view, is probably thought of at best as a learned opinion or an encouraging statement, though as I’ve mentioned before that Christianity doesn’t look at Bible study as an act of loving God or something done for its own sake. In religious Judaism however, Torah study brings a Jew close to God in a way that most non-Jews will never understand. I certainly can’t claim any special insights myself.

But think of the implications here. For an observant Jew, failure to strive in Torah study or approaching Torah study with a rather casual attitude must be looked at by God in a less than complementary fashion. If Torah study is that important, whether you’re an accomplished scholar or someone who can hardly grasp the basics, it is your effort and devotion that results in God’s favor. Imagine how you’d feel if you didn’t try your best, but you still cared about merits from God. Or even imagine if you tried your best and still accomplished very little. You might still feel, regardless of what was quoted above, that you are a failure. You might even have friends or family who are more than willing to re-enforce that opinion of yourself, whether due to poor Torah study or any number of other disappointments.

Yesterday, I tried to explain that each of us, having been made in the image of God, are holy and sacred people. We should treat each other and ourselves with dignity and respect befitting someone who contains a precious spark of the Divine. However, I ended yesterday’s missive with a cautionary note:

Oh, one more thing. All this is far easier said than done, especially finding that “holy” guy in the mirror while I’m shaving in the morning.

Knowledge and insight are wonderful things but they don’t automatically result in wisdom and change, especially when your so-called “holiness” collides into the reality of day-to-day life.

Consider this.

Someone spends most of their life, for whatever reasons, believing that they have little to offer others and that whenever they try to do their best, failure is the result. They have hurt others without meaning to, hurt themselves, and generally made a mess of things. Finally, they come to the conclusion that everyone who they love and want to be close to, resents them and even sometimes hates them because of all the trouble they’ve caused.

At some point, this person, on a cognitive level, realizes that at least some of what they’re experiencing is self-constructed and self-maintained. They learn that “you are what you think” and after reading more self-help and inspirational material than they thought they could stand, they come to the realization that they have the power to change how they think and therefore, how they feel and behave.

So they give it a shot. Maybe they just practice some set of rules or habits that they’ve been told effective people use. Maybe they even go to a counselor of some sort to help get a direction and supportive feedback.

But it doesn’t work.

Here’s why.

Each day for twenty, thirty, forty years or more, this person has added ten pounds of weight on their back. I know ten pounds doesn’t sound like much, but if you added ten more pounds each day, day in and day out, 365 days a year for decade upon decade upon decade, it would eventually become tons…tons of weight on the person’s back. Tons of weight holding the person down.

Each time they employ some sort of method to change their thinking, their feeling, and their behavior, they are taking a small hammer and a wee chisel and chipping off a fleck here and a fragment there of fifty or sixty or seventy tons of concrete and steel, trying to lighten the load. After a few days or a few weeks or a few months, the person tries to stand up under the load. It doesn’t seem any lighter. They still can’t stand. They still can’t move.

On top of all this (no pun intended) the original mechanism of thoughts and perceptions that cause this person to process all outside input as negative and punitive is continuing to add more and more weight on. So as this person attempts to make their burden lighter at an extremely miniscule rate, the weight is being replaced faster than it can be removed, so in fact, change is not occurring at all or worse…the weight is getting even heavier.

Do you think when the Or Zarua says the following, that it applies to our much burdened individual?

When a person honestly does whatever he can and works to the fullest extent of his abilities, God judges it as if he has accomplished what is expected from him, and God will reward him accordingly.

I’m not sure it does. Here’s why.

Only when a person has peace of mind can he really feel love for humanity. Lack of peace of mind leads to animosity towards others. Peace of mind leads to love.

Only if a person has peace of mind will he be able to pass the test of dealing properly with other people. He will be able to [be] kindhearted to everyone. His peace of mind will enable him to tolerate others and be patient with them.

see Daas Chochmah Umussar, vol.2, p.203;
Mussar Hatorah, p.10;
Gateway to Happiness, p.73
quoted from Aish.com

If we are supposed to love God by loving other people and performing acts of kindness and charity, and thus achieve an understanding that we can love ourselves and that indeed, God loves us too, how is this achieved if you cannot perform the first step? I suppose I’m looking at this in too much of a linear fashion. I’ve said before that feelings are not necessary in order to do good. Just do good. And yet, thoughts and feelings of self-loathing, self-deprecation, and the insurmountable weight of depression, like 88,000 pounds of lead crushing you into the dirt and mud, makes it difficult or even (seemingly) impossible to budge an inch. In real life, it takes some sort of motivation to do just about anything, especially something that is out of character and that requires an extraordinary effort.

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. –2 Timothy 4:5-8 (ESV)

But the encouragements of Paul in the New Testament might seem to backfire in the face of someone pinned to the ground by their faults like an insect trapped in amber.

I know some people read blogs like mine for a sense of encouragement, support, and inspiration, but mine is a very strange “inspirational” blog. Candy-coating life is usually ineffective, and it’s practically insane to deny that some people find emotional survival to be the best they can accomplish on any given day, or at the very least, it’s rather cruel. In the background of life for a person like the one I’ve been describing, it isn’t just the fear that the people they love will get fed up with them and leave, but that God will get fed up as well.

Worry can always provide reason. Maybe G‑d is out to punish you. Maybe you don’t deserve to be saved from the mess you’ve gotten into. Maybe an ugly mess is the only way He has to provide for you.

That’s not called trust. Trust means you have not a shade of doubt that He will deliver. No matter what.

The heavens above mirror the earth below. Trust in Him and He will fulfill your trust.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Forget Punishment”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

Telling someone like this that they don’t trust God may seem to be rather “oh duh” at this point. They know that. It’s just another nail in their emotional coffin, just another ten or a hundred pounds added to what they’re already ladened with (though I should say at this point that if you can’t trust God, trusting or even liking most other people is probably out of the question, but here’s the kicker…do you not trust God because people have proven to be untrustworthy or do you not trust people because you believe God is untrustworthy?).

You must treat yourself with respect. To do otherwise is to desecrate something that is holy.

That which doesn’t kill you will usually try again.

Supposedly, you can only go down so far before you start to rise up again. There is a principle in some areas of Judaism that says, “Every descent is for the sake of a future ascent.” Of course, that “ascent” might not occur until the world to come, which means you’re already dead and your life on earth hasn’t worked out at all. Besides, it’s just a saying. You can’t find it in the Bible.

And yet the Jewish people have survived every conceivable defeat, degradation, and humiliation, and still managed to survive and even to thrive due to such teachings added to the promises of God.

Why doesn’t this work for anyone else?

There is an increasingly mythical sacred person buried under endless tons of rock, dirt, and pain. They keep trying to dig their way out of their cave-in using only splintered, bloody stumps of what’s left of their fingers. The light is dimming and the air is running out. When the Divine spark is extinguished, what will be left of the person who was supposed to be holy? When the abyss finally claims its victim, will God still be there to watch?

 

 

The Image of the Holy

[If a criminal has been executed by hanging] his body may not remain suspended overnight … because it is an insult to God.
Deuteronomy 21:23

Rashi explains that since man was created in the image of God, anything that disparages man is disparaging God as well.

Chilul Hashem, bringing disgrace to the Divine Name, is one of the greatest sins in the Torah. The opposite of chilul Hashem is kiddush Hashem, sanctifying the Divine Name. While this topic has several dimensions to it, there is a living kiddush Hashem which occurs when a Jew behaves in a manner that merits the respect and admiration of other people, who thereby respect the Torah of Israel.

What is chilul Hashem? One Talmudic author stated, “It is when I buy meat from the butcher and delay paying him” (Yoma 86a). To cause someone to say that a Torah scholar is anything less than scrupulous in meeting his obligations is to cause people to lose respect for the Torah.

Suppose someone offers us a business deal of questionable legality. Is the personal gain worth the possible dishonor that we bring not only upon ourselves, but on our nation? If our personal reputation is ours to handle in whatever way we please, shouldn’t we handle the reputation of our nation and the God we represent with maximum care?

Jews have given so much, even their lives, for kiddush Hashem. Can we not forego a few dollars to avoid chilul Hashem?

Today I shall …

… be scrupulous in all my transactions and relationships to avoid the possibility of bringing dishonor to my God and people.

-Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
“Growing Each Day, Av 17”
Aish.com

This is an excellent point we Christians should learn. Yesterday, I commented about the intrinsic interweaving of loving God, loving other people, and loving ourselves. Rabbi Twerski’s commentary builds on that and shows us that what we do, for good or for ill, reflects upon the name of God. If we do good, God’s Name is elevated, even among the unbelieving nations. If otherwise, God’s Name is desecrated.

But there’s more.

Since all people everywhere across the vast span of human history have been created in the image of God, how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves is incredibly important. To treat another human being for any reason, with a lack of respect and dignity, is to treat God with dishonor. When we show kindness and compassion to someone, it is as if we were doing so to God. To show cruelty, dishonor, and disrespect to another…

…well, you get the idea.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” –Matthew 25:41-46 (ESV)

This reminds me of a song I heard Alanis Morissette sing on the radio, though I guess it was originally released by Joan Osborne:

What if god was one of us,
just a slob like one of us,
just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home?

-Lyrics by Eric Bazilian

If we would just try to imagine that everyone we encounter, no matter who they are, is God. How would that affect how we respond to them? How would we treat them differently? How would we see them? How would we feel about how we treated them yesterday?

But if God is holy, and being created in the image of God, other people are holy, what about you…and me? That is, how are you treating yourself? How am I treating myself?

Lakanta (played by Tom Jackson): What do you think is sacred to us here?

Wesley Crusher (played by Wil Wheaton): Maybe the necklace you’re wearing? The designs on the walls?

Lakanta: Everything is sacred to us – the buildings, the food, the sky, the dirt beneath your feet – and you. Whether you believe in your spirit or not, we believe in it. You are a sacred person here, Wesley.

Wesley Crusher: I think that’s the first time anyone’s used that particular word to describe me.

Lakanta: You must treat yourself with respect. To do otherwise is to desecrate something that is holy.

Wesley Crusher: Is that what you think I’ve been doing?

Lakanta: Only you can decide that.

Wesley Crusher: I guess I haven’t had a lot of respect for myself lately.

from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode,
Journey’s End (1994)

I always feel a little embarrassed when I include a quote from a television show or movie in these “meditations” but this transaction between Wesley and Lakanta absolutely crystallizes the point I’m trying to make. Remember, I previously said that there’s a connection between loving God and loving other people with loving yourself. Now we see that perhaps we can’t obey God at all; we cannot love Him and treat His Name as sacred, until we learn that to treat ourselves with disrespect is to desecrate someone who is holy…that is you…and me.

I know, it’s pretty hard to wake up first thing in the morning, look at that tired, unshaven face in the mirror, and think of myself as holy. On the other hand, what do we see when we look at the faces of other people? If we can’t see what is holy in them, how will we ever see what is Holy in God?

When we seek to serve God, when we do our best to help others, to treat them kindly, with respect, with dignity, we aren’t just doing it for them, though of course they benefit. We aren’t just doing it for ourselves either, for that would be ultimately self-serving. But in honoring others, we are serving a purpose that transcends our human existence and connects us with holy realms and an infinite God. The very act of spending half an hour with a sick friend at the hospital or even donating one can of beans to your local food bank inescapably connects you with the Divine purpose; the very heart of the One and True God. It’s not just morality, it’s spirituality. It’s not just right and wrong. It’s living holiness.

It’s so easy to think of ourselves as “ordinary.” It’s so easy to get swept away by the habits of our small lives. To go to work. To shop for food. To mow the lawn, To take out the garbage. But that’s not why we’re here. We’re not here to be ordinary people doing ordinary things. God created us to do great and wonderful things. It’s all at our fingertips. All we have to do is look in the mirror and see a sacred person. All we have to do is look at somebody else, and see someone who is holy.

God is One and we were created in His image. So it is as if God were one of us. It’s as if God is all of us, not as imagined in some mystic, eastern philosophical way, but because we are all of His image, His essence.

You are holy. So am I. So is the next person you see or speak to, no matter who they are.

As a person behaves here below, so he is treated above.

Perhaps someone once tried to tell you about the ugly deeds of another. Perhaps you responded, “I’m not interested.” And you didn’t listen.

Then there will be a time when a heavenly being will wish to report on your doings here on earth. If you have had the guts to respond this way, G‑d will also say, “I’m not interested. I don’t want to even listen.”

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“How to Not Listen”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

What if God was one of us?

Oh, one more thing. All this is far easier said than done, especially finding that “holy” guy in the mirror while I’m shaving in the morning.

The Sacred Robe

From a sicha of my father: Chassidus demands that one “…wash his flesh (Hebrew, et b’ssaro) with water, and clothe himself in them (the priestly robes).” The intellectual element of Chassidus must thoroughly cleanse the flesh and rinse away the habits of the flesh. The habits are alluded to by the word et (“and”) in the quoted verse, signifying “that which is incidental to the flesh,” the habits developed by the body. Only then can one clothe himself in the “sacred garments.”

Pondering Chassidus, discussing Chassidus, and the practice of Chassidim to meditate before davening – these are “sacred garments,” garments that were given from the heights of sanctity. But it is the person himself who must “wash his flesh with water…” The garments of the soul are given to the individual from On High. But washing away unwholesome “incidentals” that arise from bodily nature and making the body itself “flesh of sanctity,” this is achieved solely by man’s own efforts. This is what Chassidus demands; it is for this ideal that our great teacher (the Alter Rebbe) devoted himself totally and selflessly. He opened the channel of total devotion, sacrifice, for serving G-d through prayer, to be bound up with the Essence of the En Sof, infinite G-d. Chassidus places a chassid face to face with the Essence of the En Sof.

“Today’s Day” daily lesson
Chumash: Acharei mot, Shevi’i with Rashi.
Tehillim: 119, 97 to end.
Tanya: Ch. 43. Concerning (p. 227)…enlarged upon later. (p. 231).
Compiled and arranged by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 5703 (1943)
from the talks and letters of the sixth Chabad Rebbe
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory.

However, G-d provides creation with life in a different manner than the manner in which the soul provides life to the body. The soul must garb itself in the body in order to provide it with life. By doing so it is affected by the body (for “enclothing” implies that the clothed object undergoes a change). G-d, however, is of course not subject to change when He provides life to creation.

“Today’s Tanya Lesson” (Listen online)
Likutei Amarim, middle of Chapter 42
by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), founder of Chabad Chassidism
Elucidated by Rabbi Yosef Wineberg
Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg
Edited by Uri Kaploun

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that “the clothes make the man.” You’ve also heard it said that “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” Interesting and contradictory sayings and each in their own way is true.

We often judge human beings by their outward appearance, usually unfairly. We assume that someone who is well dressed and groomed is a upstanding and productive citizen, while someone who dresses poorly and who seems to take no pride in their appearance, we think of as “lesser.” Neither of these opinions takes into consideration what God sees or how He judges people by the heart and by actions.

On the other hand, the “clothes” I am talking about are more than “skin deep,” to mix a metaphor. How we appear physically is less important (though I won’t say that it’s not important at all) than how we choose to be “clothed” by God.

Whether you choose to consider the information I have quoted from mystical or metaphorical, in a sense, God does “clothe” us and most times, in accordance to our true wishes. If we desire to follow after Him and we pray and meditate and study and perform good deeds for His sake, then righteousness is our garment and our “robes” are as white as snow. It’s as if we have donned the robes and vestments of the High Priest in the Tabernacle (remember, I’m speaking metaphorically, not literally).

But this sort of clothing isn’t “one size fits all.” There is no “generic” righteousness, because while we have all been created in God’s image, we all were created as individuals, each with specific and unique gifts and purposes. One person He creates as a poet, another a brick layer, but both serve God. We may think the Pastor serves God more fully than the house painter, but you can’t tell just by looking.

I mentioned before that we must choose the sort of garment we will accept from God, but if that were completely true, we would all be wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes instead, believing we were dressed in lavish opulence when we’re actually completely naked.

God calls to us and we can choose to answer or not, but sometimes, God “loads the dice” in His favor and in ours.

The Alter of Kelm, zt”l, explains this in depth. “If one observes, he will find that emunah definitely never leaves a Jewish heart. Those who claim not to believe—or for some reason act like one who lacks belief—simply cannot focus on faith in an honest way due to the ulterior motives of their physical drives. The moment they are confronted with hardship, they naturally turn to God because the trial brings the emunah to the fore. Our job is to work to reveal the emunah from deep within, to recognize it and value it.”

Daf Yomi Digest
Stories Off the Daf
from “No Atheists in Foxholes”
Me’ila 3-1

To use another “gambling” metaphor, God “stacks the deck”, so that we have a “better than average chance” of calling out to Him, often from the depths of despair. We can still choose to ignore Him, but it’s more difficult than if our lives were completely comfortable and all our needs were met.

We are like a resistant and reluctant young women being pursued by a wealthy and handsome suitor. Our suitor has nothing but our best interests at heart and possesses many fine gifts, if only we’ll accept them. Yet for many reasons, we put Him off, thinking that He’s boring, oppressive, or even dangerous. When kindness and graciousness doesn’t work, He sometimes seeks to “conquer” us, which sounds harsh and hostile, but it’s more like an adult abruptly grabbing a three-year old’s arm to keep him from running out into traffic.

Show a mighty emperor the world and ask him where he most desires to conquer. He will spin the globe to the furthest peninsula of the most far-flung land, stab his finger upon it and declare, “This! When I have this, then I shall have greatness!”

So too, the Infinite Light. In those places most finite, where the light of day barely trickles in, there is found His greatest glory.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Conquest”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

Our “Conquering King” holds out a sacred robe of light to us. All we have to do is stand still, accept the gift, and put it on. Then we have to wear it well.

To Desecrate What is Holy

Chasam Sofer also writes that it is obvious that one does not violate the prohibition against saying God’s Name in vain unless he pronounces the Name but writing God’s Name does not violate a prohibition. He adds that if one examines our Gemara carefully he will realize that the prohibition against cursing someone with the Name of God and the prohibition against taking a false oath with the Name of God are subsets of the prohibition of saying God’s Name in vain.

Daf Yomi Digest
Halacha Highlight
“Writing God’s Name in vain”
Temurah 4

What is the purpose?

The One Above desires to dwell in things below.

Meaning that a breath of G-dly life descends below and dresses itself in a body and human person, and this body and person negate and conceal the light of this G-dly soul…yet nevertheless, the soul purifies and elevates the body, the person and even her share of the world.

And what is the reason behind this purpose?

There is none.

It transcends reason; it is the place from which all reason is born.

And so it is unbounded and all-consuming. For it is a desire of the Essence.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Entrance”
—from the Rebbe’s discussions of his father-in-law’s last discourse.
Chabad.org

The concepts of holiness and respect for God vary between Christian and Jewish thought. When I used to attend a church, I heard God referred to in the most casual and intimate manner, as if God were nothing more than a super-amplified grandfather. People, admittedly in need of comfort, described themselves as if they were sitting on God’s lap and cuddling up with Him. Even as a brand new Christian all those years ago, I found myself uncomfortable with the image.

Now I know why.

I’m sure some of you reading my quote from the daf on Temurah 4 probably think the Jewish people overdo this “respect” thing a little, and yet, if we could have stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai on that day when the thunder of His voice shook the ground, and if we could have seen the fire and the smoke, and trembled at the sound of the great shofar, would we still think of God as a “cuddly grandfather?”

I’m not saying we should not take comfort in God, but only that we should remember that He is not a man, not even a great man, and we cannot treat Him as such.

The comfort we can take is that, as Rabbi Freeman cites of the Rebbe’s discourse, the “One Above desires to dwell in things below.” From this, we who are Christians see God’s desire to dwell in things below” ultimately expressed here:

The word was made flesh and dwelled in our midst. We have beheld his glory, like the glory of a father’s only son, great in kindness and truth. –John 1:14 (DHE Gospels)

This is our greatest comfort, that in some mysterious and mystic way, an aspect of the One, has been able to dwell among men, as the Divine Presence dwelled within the Mishkan and among the Children of Israel. A tent is not God cannot contain God anymore than the body of a man is God can contain the infinite Essence, and yet in some inexplicable fashion, “we have beheld his glory.”

We also learn why the Jewish people revere the Torah, not merely as a scroll or a holy icon, but as the One, who again has dwelled “in things below.”

When God began to create heaven and earth – the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water –Genesis 1:1-2 (JPS Tanakh)

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. –John 1:1 (DHE Gospels)

But God’s holiness is not limited, and just as Judaism believes that each Jew is a receptacle for the Divine Presence and just as Christianity embraces the fact that all believers have received the Holy Spirit within us, so we understand together, the words of the Rebbe “that a breath of G-dly life descends below and dresses itself in a body and human person.”

That means each one of us is holy and sacred. This lesson is understood, in some manner, even among secular people, and even in the realm of fiction, where perhaps it’s easier for a worldly and progressive humanity to express such spiritual thoughts.

Lakanta: What do you think is sacred to us here?
Wesley Crusher: Maybe the necklace you’re wearing? The designs on the walls?
Lakanta: Everything is sacred to us – the buildings, the food, the sky, the dirt beneath your feet – and you. Whether you believe in your spirit or not, we believe in it. You are a sacred person here, Wesley.
Wesley Crusher: I think that’s the first time anyone’s used that particular word to describe me.
Lakanta: You must treat yourself with respect. To do otherwise is to desecrate something that is holy.
Wesley Crusher: Is that what you think I’ve been doing?
Lakanta: Only you can decide that.
Wesley Crusher: I guess I haven’t had a lot of respect for myself lately.

-from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
Journey’s End

Not only do I think it has become common among the people of faith to treat God all too casually and without respect, I think we also have gotten into the habit of treating each other and ourselves in the same way. And as we see from this important lesson from a rather unusual source, if we don’t treat each other and ourselves with respect, just as we don’t treat God with respect, how much more so do we desecrate something and someone that is holy?