By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey
This week we read a double Torah portion: Acharei Mot (Vayikra (Leviticus) 16-18) and Kedoshim (Vayikra (Leviticus) 19-20).
The Torah there exhorts us to "be holy" and the reason given is "for I (G-d) am holy." The Midrash adds that although we are encouraged to reach for G-d's holiness, it will always remain beyond us.
What did the Midrash seek to accomplish by this statement? Try to reach Me but know that you really will not. What a disheartening thought!
In teaching his child to walk, a father will place the child on the floor and stand a little distance away. He will then reach out to the child, encourage him to take his first step and thus reach his father. Encouraged by the thought, the child happily takes the step. Seeing this, the father now takes two steps back, hoping the child will follow suit.
A mature child may stop and wonder: why would his father foster an allusion of nearness only to later retreat? Why does he ask me to take a step forward only to become elusive once again? The father is looking to teach his son the true objective of life: it is not important to reach your father, it is important to walk on your own. This simple yet incredible piece of information will enable the child to take a lifetime of forward steps.
Our Father in heaven interacts in the same way. He places us under the illusion that we can indeed reach him. However, the more we learn, the more we discover how humble and insignificant we truly are. The more we know, the more we learn how much we truly don't know. We may wonder in exasperation: why he would appear to be so close only to hide himself once again.
The wise Jew remembers that the goal is not to reach Him but to learn to take forward steps. Indeed a lifetime of forward steps.
(Excerpts from Chabad.org - from Rabbi Lazer Gurkow)
May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!