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ב"ה

The Best Yichus

Friday, 23 April, 2021 - 9:43 am

In Hebrew and Yiddish “yichus” connotes prestigious pedigree. Tevya worrying about his daughter marrying a “nobody” is the embodiment of “yichus” psychosis.

In British Royal circles, a prince marrying a commoner is a big deal. In WASPy circles, yichus is what you need to get into the country club.

***

This week’s second Parsha, Kedoshim, opens with the words, “You shall be holy, for I, G-d your G-d, am holy.” The dictate to act sacred is tied to the fact that G-d is sacred.

Some commentaries point to a deeper missive in these words. The Almighty is not simply saying: “Emulate Me and be holy!” Rather, G-d is also exhorting, “You can be Holy, because I am holy!” The power and capacity that we possess to behave in sanctified fashion is due to the fact that G-d is sacred. What does G-d’s sanctity have to do with our potential holiness?

Isn’t that like the spoiled-from-birth rich man telling the pauper, ‘You can be rich because I’m rich’?

***

A prominent businessman and longtime supporter of Chabad started a beginners' service at his congregation. He proudly reported on his initiative to the Rebbe. But when he told the Rebbe that he had arranged services for 130 Jews with no Jewish background, the Rebbe's smile vanished.

"What?" the Rebbe asked looking hurt, "No Jewish background?"

"Go back and tell them they all have a background. They are the children of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sara, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah."

***

Chassidic thought teaches that we all possess a spark of G-d at the essence of our being. Our neshamah is a genuine ’piece of G-d.’ So when G-d demands holiness, He is also providing the very means for it.

As our creator, G-d considers us all to have exemplary lineage.  As His children, we all come from great stock.

Now that’s a lofty lineage to live up to.

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