A good friend of mine and her brother have a playful way of forcing each other into sharing food. If one sibling has a desirable treat, let’s say an ice cream cone, the other will make a blessing over the ice cream. They do this knowing that their sibling will not allow them to profane God’s name by make a bracha livatella (a blessing said for not – i.e. saying the blessing over food, but not actually eating any). By saying the blessing out loud, they force the other to give them a bite without having to ask. For if the one with the treat does not share, they are taking part in the profaning of God’s holy name.
Not taking the Lord’s name in vain is a theme that weaves itself throughout Emor. God also over and over justifies Her statutes by proclaiming some derivative of, ‘for I the Lord have sanctified them/you.’ Yet there is one occasion which deviates from the norm, “God says to Moses saying: Instruct Aaron and his sons to be scrupulous with the consecrated of Bnai Israel, lest you profane my holy name – that which they have made holy – to me, I the Lord” (Vayikra 22:1-2). While we are still worried about desecrating God’s name, in this case it is us, not God, who gives holiness.
There are two radical ideas held within this sentence. First, through the power of words, we the children of Israel, have the ability to make things holy. Second, dealing lightly with those things made holy by man is considered by God as blaspheming His name.
Here in lies the power of my friend’s game. By making a blessing over something – by evoking God’s name – they consecrate and make it holy. Once this has been done, that item must be treated with utmost respect and holiness, lest we come to profane the name of God.
What if we truly took this teaching to heart. What if we treated all things blessed by man with the highest level of holiness. How would it change our lives to interact with our food as a holy gift to Lord? What would a community look like if its members took its blessing, “He will bless all of this holy community with all the holy communities” to heart? How would our world look if parents and teachers fully embraced the understanding that all of our children have been blessed – that they are all holy and that treating them as anything less is profaning the name of the Lord?
I encourage us all to give blessings to our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. We can truly make each other holy. Not only this, but to remember that God commands us to treat each other with full extent of our holiness.
So I bless us all to simply know that we are blessed and therefore so holy.