Daniel Coleman
Daniel Coleman
Contrarian and creative investor, inventor, and career coach

Mundane pathways to holiness

The Parsha of Kedoshim makes a remarkable claim: Kedusha – holiness, can be found in the mundane as well as the sublime. Throughout the portion we encounter a myriad of seemingly disparate mitzvot including: honor your parents; don’t steal, lie, or curse; love your neighbor as yourself; and be mindful of what you wear and what you eat. One of these pathways to holiness is pe’ah, fulfilled at harvest time when a farmer leaves a corner of the field’s crop for the poor.

This mitzvah accrues to the farmer whether or not a poor person actually arrives to reap and benefit from the crop. Seemingly, the very act of leaving a corner cultivates the trait of generosity, so that the person becomes a more charitable giver. An ultimate benefit to the giver is that s/he becomes more God-like. This could be why all the mitzvot (in the 1st mishnah of tractate Pe’ah) that we recite at the shacharit service right after the blessings on the Torah, have no prescribed amount: God is described by the mystics as the Ein-sof (the One without limits) and so there can be no limit on our efforts to emulate the Einsof .

On the other side of the equation, we have the recipient’s perspective. The Jersualem Talmud  (at the end of tractate Peah) indicates that it is sinful not to accept tzedaka when needed; when I am in distress, I have an opportunity to become a charitable recipient – a vehicle for holiness. When I accept the charity, love, care and concern that is extended to me, I – as much as the giver – am the one that enables kedusha to be expressed in the world through the mitzvah of tzedakah. There are times when we must find a small corner of ourself that is open to setting aside our pride and receiving what others are offering us. May we be blessed to recognize that both offering help and being open to accepting the support of others are true pathways to holiness.

About the Author
A contrarian investor, career coach, and sought after speaker, Daniel Coleman has an MBA, several patents, and a unicycle. He is passionate about guiding students and (aspiring) professionals at each stage in their career from discerning their college and career of choice to learning how to pivot and negotiate their worth.  You can reach him at daniel . coleman @ yu.edu.
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