Kedusha in Unpleasant Times

So much of Judaism is centered around finding kedusha-holiness in the everyday. This is why the Havdalah service is not so simple for me: the separation between Shabbat and the other days of the week cannot represent a separation between the holy and the everyday. I don’t find them to be so separate. There is holiness in the everyday and every-day-ness in the holy.

Sometimes our “everyday” is not so pleasant or routine or mundane or anything except wildly disturbing. Even then, we are called to find the holiness in our experience. In other words, Judaism encourages us to find meaning in all aspects of our lives – the good, bad, and ugly.

The concept of kedusha-holiness surfaced for me as I contemplated our High Holy Days schedule. The schedule that has not yet gone out because it keeps changing. (It will go out soon, I promise, with the caveat that unfortunately, it could still change.) Just as we thought we were getting somewhere with this crazy virus, we get pushed back again. I wasn’t thinking about kedusha in terms of Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur or planning for transformational services… kedusha came to me because I realized that we – I need to find holiness in wearing a mask, or adapting my routine again, or managing being in-person and online at the same time… or peering into a future that may include all of these things for a very long time.

I know it’s there, the kedusha is in this mess somewhere. And when I receive whispers of the holy, or glimpse holiness in people and their actions, or hear holy words being spoken, I feel full, the shalom that is more about being whole than just at peace.

This afternoon, while meeting with someone in my office, I caught sight of a bobcat running in front of the temple with a squirrel captured in its jaws. “A successful bobcat,” I was told by the other person in my office. What an awesome sight of life and death and nature at work. A moment of kedusha.

May we all find kedusha-holiness in all of our varied life experiences, in both the pleasant and not so pleasant moments.