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Holy Days

December 21, 2009

As we celebrate the holidays, let’s reflect on some of their meaning.

The term “holiday” comes from “Holy Days.” In today’s secular society the sense of the holy or sacred is for many no longer relevant. We have loss the sense of the sacred. However we may have lost more than what some consider as just an arcane religious concept. Losing the sense of the sacred has led many to a loss of meaning and of values.

There is a close connection between holiness and integrity. The etymology of the word “holy” comes from the 11th century old English word of “halig” which means uninjured, entire and complete. The etymology of the word “integrity” means one, whole and complete.

The philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that the moral law was sacred.

Prof. Antoine Vergote who studied in Paris with Claude Levi-Strauss and Jacques Lacan wrote in his book A Psychological Study of Religions, Belief and Unbelief that: “the sacred nature of moral law is derived from the sacred nature of the human person.” Even in a secular environment and in the media we often hear the expressions of “the sanctity of marriage” and the “sanctity of life.”

Our sense of what is right and wrong, of morality and ethics has deep roots in religious traditions. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s second volume of A Code of Jewish Ethics, is subtitled “Be Holy” making reference to the verse that says: “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” His book is not so much about the observance of Jewish laws and rituals but more about suggestions as to “how to improve our character and become more honest, decent and a just people.

This year, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, (that we very rarely observe anyway) why not make a list what is “sacred” to us or in another terminology, what we consider of the highest importance, what we value the most. Such a list might be very helpful in the decisions we make both in our private and professional life during the coming year.

Joseph Campbell wrote:

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.

Happy Holy Days!

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