middot cleanliness besorah cleanliness as holiness

cleanliness as holiness

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-handswashIn a world where spirituality is characterized as being an inner reality, it is easy to fall into a state of disconnect with the externality of spiritual life. We can lose the sense of value of how we present ourselves to one another and God on a physical level. We mustn’t forget that there are many times when the externalities of life are used as metaphors for things that encompass all dimensions of existence. Cleanliness is particularly connected to holiness in TaNaKh and in the apostolic Writings.


In speaking about Mashiach’s love for his community of followers, Rav Shaul says that Mashiach made “her holy by washing her clean with water in the word, so as to present [her]…with no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, yes, for her to be holy and without flaw” (Ephesians 5:26-27, Restored New Testament, Barnstone).

Clearly, Rav Shaul is speaking in metaphors, but there is something to the image of cleanliness that accurately describes holiness. In fact, we know that our holy Torah goes into great length about matters of cleanliness for the sake of the people being holy.  Whether it is our Torah’s actual commands to us to make ourselves clean, or the metaphors sprinkled throughout Scripture we find holiness and cleanliness side by side.

May it be that when we present ourselves to the world and our King that we would truly be clean inside and out.

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