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Thursday, April 30, 2015


Moshe gathered all of the Jewish people together in a gathering called Hakhel. He taught us the fifty mitzvos found in this week’s parsha but introduced them with the commandment: “Kedoshim Tihiyu’ – You must be holy.

The Ramban explains that Kedoshim Tehiyu is a Mitzvah that affects the way we live and interact with this world. It is possible for a person to keep all of the commandments and still be a ‘Naval Bireshus Hatorah’ – ‘a disgusting person who follows the Torah’.

The Rambam understands the commandment a little differently. He writes in his introduction to Sefer Hamitzvos that being holy is not a new Mitzvah. It is just an extra push and encouragement to keep all of the other Mitzvos and to stay away from Aveiros.

Rashi appears to come down in between. He tells us to be holy by staying far away from Arayos – inappropriate relationships – and other Aveiros. It isn’t enough not to do Aveiros. We need to keep safeguards as well.

Everyone appears to agree that being ‘kadosh’ is an attitude in life. It may manifest or be manifested by actions and safeguards, but ultimately it is about our approach to life.

Rav Shalom Schwadron tells the story of a Hot Dog Drawing contest. One of the finalists requested a year to perfect his painting. He won the contest and explained his strategy.

“Of course I didn’t spend a year on the drawing”, he said. “First I swore off hot dogs. I didn’t eat them for an entire year. I love Hot Dogs so I began to obsess about them. They filled my mind and all of my waking and sleeping hours were consumed with images of Hot Dogs. Finally, as the year drew to a close I was able to take my vivid thoughts and put them down on paper.”

That is Kedusha. We need to fill our minds with something holy until we are day dreaming about kindness and Torah study and helping people and making every person feel good. If we fill our minds with that we will have fulfilled all three interpretations of Kedusha.

We can become obsessed with kedusha.

Posted on 04/30 at 09:58 PM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at