If the corrected understanding of “Holy,” is correct, if we are separated to…” God is not only transcendent, but also imminent. His image is within each of us, as Genesis 1 tells us. God made us in his צַלְמ, which sounds like Shalom, and in his likeness, the feminine plural of blood, דְמוּתֵ. We are the imminence, the image, and likeness of God in this cosmos, which has the same root as cosmetology, that which makes beautiful. Genesis 1 becomes the great literary landscape, the literary cover for the book we call Torah, explaining what the entire rest of Torah is going to be about. God hovers over wilderness and chaos, bringing order to the cosmos.
Jesus may be employing G’zerah Shavah in Matthew 5:48, “Be Shalom, as your heavenly Father is Shalom.” The text he refers to is Leviticus 19:2. The root of Shalom is not simply peace. When Israel signed its peace treaty with Egypt they did not want the treaty translated into Arabic because Shalom in Hebrew means a sense of completeness and tranquility the Arabic Shalom does not convey. This feeling of צַלְמ and Shalom means having the tranquility that comes from knowing God is within us, so we need not fear.
Jesus tells us, “Unless your צֶדֶקה surpasses that of the grammarians and Pharisees/Separate Ones, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” What follows is a heightened sense of community, where all look past differences and strive to be a complete family, knowing they have to live in the same oikonos, economy, house, so might as well strive to get along. The Hebrew word for “Separate Ones,” is “Pharisee.” It follows that Hebrew has two words for “Separate,” one of which is Pharisee/פרוש/Perez. The other is צֶדֶקה which means “Holy.” Pharisee/פרוש/Perez mean separate from. צֶדֶקה/Holy means separate to, separate to God’s work of guarding and keeping his garden/his planet, which includes each other.
“I am the Personal Name your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, out of the house of menial labor.” Jewish Passover tradition emphasizes how the Jewish community is to remember what it was like to be there, for the first time, each time, they celebrate the feast. Our concept of the Physical Presence comes from this understanding.
The Jewish concept of Justice/ צֶדֶקהand its concept of קדוש is based upon this salvation experience. They remember what it was like to suffer, and they remember our rescue. This causes a response of gratitude which tells them, and through the Eucharist, us, how to respond when we see others suffering. We become so enmeshed in helping each other; we do not have time or inclination to violate any of the Ten Rules, which follow.
Mark 2 tells us the Haggadah about the healing of the paralytic. Jesus asks the Separate Ones, “What is easier to say… or …” The power is not in the words, the flapping of the gums, the vibration of the windpipes, or how our tongue roles in our mouths. The power comes from the heart. Scholars argue about just what this child did that made him a paralytic in the first place.
After studying Semitic literature, the strongest possibility is nothing at all, or at least nothing worse than any other child his age. John 9 is a typical Semitic story relating what sin causes their suffering. The lesson is that there is not necessarily any sin at all. Our paralytic could be a victim of child abuse, nothing more.
If the child is a victim of child abuse, this child has to believe several things in order to walk again. He must believe Jesus has the ability to forgive him of whatever he did wrong. He must believe Jesus can heal whatever physical problem causes his paralysis. Last, and most important, he must believe that whatever caused him to fail in the past is gone. This brings us back to those choices Jesus gives his adversaries.
The first choice, “Your failures are forgiven,” is a statement of empowerment. “Whatever you did wrong in the past is in the past.” His sense of gratitude will lead him in the direction he must follow next. The second choice, “Pick up your mat and go home,” is just that; it is a direction to pick up his mat and go home, at which point, with no direction, he is no longer empowered. Afraid of more abuse, he becomes paralyzed again. The patronizing attitude of the Separate Ones and their assumption that if he is forgiven, he must have done something wrong, only exasperates the paralyzing (pardon the pun) sense of guilt.
As it relates to Genesis 1, with God hovering over wilderness and Chaos, with mankind, in his image and likeness guarding and tending his garden. The paralytic has not kept up with his schoolmates. While they studied and learned their craft, the paralytic lay on a bed. He is behind. He cannot compete on equal terms. If he tries, he will fail, the guilt will return, and…
There is only one solution to the problem and it does not come from Jesus. It does come from the four still up on that roof, and the people standing around Jesus. They must be patient, spend the extra time, and help the paralytic catch up. That is the lesson of Genesis 1, of what Exodus 20, and Deuteronomy 5 is all about, remembering our rescue and when we see suffering, doing something. That is צֶדֶקה and that is קדוש. That is justice and that is what Holy means.