Holy Foolishness: A Dwelling for God !

Holy Foolishness - Shtut DeKudusha

The Bible commands all people to build a sanctuary, so “I will dwell in them.” It does not say, “So I will dwell in it,” but “I will dwell in them.” From this, we learn what our sages tell us: that everyone has the potential of God dwelling in them, if only they make a sanctuary out of their own lives.

God dwelt in a sanctuary made of physical vessels transformed to His service, and the same is true of each person. By dedicating our quotidian lives to a spiritual and Godly purpose, we make our lives a vehicle for the presence of God; and where there is God, there are blessings and miracles.

One of the significant elements in building the tabernacle were the beams, made of acacia wood. In Hebrew, the word for acacia wood is shitim, related to “foolishness” (shtus). In other words, it was out of foolishness that the walls of the sanctuary were built.

The middle road — which Maimonides tells us is the one we should travel on — is, for most people, the one that is dictated by logic and rational thinking. Foolishness is a turn away from wisdom and sound rational logic. There can be two sorts: a plunge below logic and reason, where a person acts in a way that lacks proper logic, called “negative foolishness”; or a turn higher and superior to accepted logic, called “Holy foolishness.”

The Talmud tells a story of a great Rabbi who would juggle at weddings to give joy to the bride and groom, but not everyone was happy with what they saw as the sage not showing the requisite respect due to people in scholarly positions. When this Rabbi passed away, a pillar of fire separated him from the rest of the people. The sages attributed this separation to his “foolishness” when entertaining at weddings.

Holy foolishness is when a person breaks from the accepted ways and spiritually elevates himself in a manner that does not necessarily follow in a line of logic. His service to God is not limited to the ways that are only defined by logic; he goes further in his zeal, commitment, and dedication.

If there were no such thing as negative foolishness, we would always be instructed to focus on the middle of the road. However, because a person may stumble into doing negative foolish acts, we must find a counterbalance every once in a while. Maimonides suggests that a person whose pendulum has swung to the negative must now take the opposite extreme in the positive direction.

The sanctuary walls in every person’s life are made when the person stumbles but realizes that through Holy foolishness, he may redeem himself and become a dwelling place for Godliness.

The Talmud says that “In the place where people who rehabilitated their lives stand, even people who were righteous their entire lives cannot stand there.” Going the extra mile in being kind and giving, even when sometimes it defies logic and reason, there, is where God is attracted to dwell.

Chapter 40 

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" Rabbi Ezagui opened in 1987 the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the Island of Palm Beach, Florida.
Related Topics
Related Posts