Holiness wherever you go

Posted on May 29, 2024

By Hazzan Jenna Greenberg.

Parashat Behukotai begins with the phrase “If you walk in my laws…” 

A midrash from Vayikra Rabbah connects these words to a place in TaNaKh where King David describes walking to God: “‘If you walk in My laws’ (Lev. 26:3)–this is connected to what is written: “I have thought about my paths, and returned my feet to Your decrees’ (Psalms 119:53). David said: ‘Ribono shel Olam, every day I would plan my route and say: I am going to this place or to that home. But then my feet would bring me to a beit knesset, synagogue or a beit midrash, a study hall.’” 

According to this midrash, whenever King David laced up his sandals and tried to walk anywhere, his feet would take him to a holy place.

The Sefat Emet gives a different explanation of this midrash. He says that King David didn’t really wind up in a beit knesset or beit midrash every time he headed out for a walk. Rather, his feet took him to all sorts of places, but he was always able to find something holy to do in these places.

As incredible as it is to go to holy places, to discover holiness in places you might otherwise not expect it, is almost more awe inspiring. We all have the ability to bring holiness out into the world wherever we go.

To merge these two explanations into one, I was privileged to have the experience of journeying to the annual Cantors Assembly convention last week. While I anticipated it being a holy experience, I did not experience holiness the moment I entered the lovely but secular space of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Yet the moment I started seeing, singing and learning with colleagues and friends, I began to feel the sacredness of the space in which we were in…and not just because one of the conference rooms was called St Croix!

We all have the potential to bring the holiness we have within each of us into the places we enter throughout our lives. Whether that means having sacred moments in everyday spaces or coming to Beth El to experience our kehila kedosha, holy community, we all have the potential to walk, drive, fly, journey into the world, adding holiness wherever we go.