March 10, 2023

Nedarim 86

Today’s daf (Nedarim 86b) explores the relationship between the promise made by someone to donate an item or items for use in the Beit HaMikdash, and the sanctity accrued by those items as a result of that commitment.
Admittedly, as various commentaries explain, not every item donated to the Beit HaMikdash necessarily accrues the same level of sanctity. In some cases, the item may attain the status of קדושת הגוף (inherent sanctity), while in other cases it may attain the status of קדושת ממון (sanctity in terms of the financial worth of the item).
Yet while this distinction is important in terms of understanding the conditions of usage of those particular items, the general principle – that the choice to give to a place of holiness transfers holiness to what one wishes to give – is incredibly inspiring, especially when we think beyond physical items and think about people.
Of course, ‘holiness’ has been defined in many ways by many people. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, I am inspired by what Rabbi Sacks writes, that: ‘Holiness belongs to all of us when we turn our lives into the service of God.’
What this tells us is that while God is the definition of holiness, and while the presence of God is unbounded and unlimited (En Sof), we grow in holiness when we make the choice to connect with God and when we decide to give more of ourselves to our relationship with and service of God.
So while it is important to understand what happens when we donate items to the worship of God, it is arguably more important to understand what happens when we ‘donate’ aspects of ourselves to the worship of God: Time, Intent, Service, Goals. Because when we do so, we raise our state of holiness by turning our lives into the service of God.
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