If your heart were sincere and upright, every creature would be unto you a looking-glass of life and a book of holy doctrine. -Thomas Kempis
The sin of the Spies, who scared the Children of Israel from wanting to enter the Land of Canaan, resulted in the punishment of forty years in the desert. There is an opinion that one of the motives of the Spies might have been connected to the idea of holiness.
The Spies felt that the Children of Israel in the desert were in a utopian condition. The manna fell to them from heaven. Their clothing and shoes miraculously stayed in pristine condition. They didn’t have to work. They were all united and camped around the Holy Tabernacle which was in their midst. All they needed to concern themselves with on a daily basis was to hear the words of Torah from Moses, the great teacher.
They knew that once they crossed into the Promised Land, the overt miracles would cease. They would have to work for a living. Till the soil. Plant crops. Pray and hope for rains that would grow their grains. Gather the produce. Sift and mill and grind. Again they would have to live the ancient curse upon Adam, that by the sweat of their brow they would eat bread.
The work, the dealing with the material and mundane would threaten their state of holiness. However, the Sfat Emet in 5632 (1872) states that a greater level is achieved by bringing the holy to the mundane, by sanctifying the material world. It is easy to remain pure and holy in one’s ivory tower. The real challenge, the real goal is to go out into the world, work the land, interact with everything that makes up the world we live in and introduce the spiritual to it. That elevates the world and everything in it.
To the Israel Elwyn group that has visited us in Uruguay. Their efforts and presence has elevated our own handicapped members and the entire community.