This week's Torah portion begins with the directive to the Jewish people: "Kedoshim tihiyu," always translated as "You shall be holy."

The English word "holy" indicates G‑dly, otherworldly, a state of being that is fundamentally different from the norms of everyday life. Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary suggests that the word's etymology is derived from the same root as "wholly"—something entirely dedicated to G‑d.

When we turn, however, to that which this week's reading describes as "kadosh" (holy), we notice that mixed in with laws about the Temple and the like (your typical "holy" stuff) we have laws about leaving a portion of our fields to the poor and laws about not lying to each other. We have laws about the Shabbat; one of whose most important precepts is to enjoy ourselves, physically, on that day—it is mandatory. We have an absolute obligation to aid an innocent third party being attacked and laws against bearing grudges and engaging in vendettas.

The things that are kodesh are the ordinary events and stuff of lifeThese laws are not devoted to divine and spiritual matters alone. They are about managing the realities of our everyday life in a "kodesh" manner.

The actual meaning of the Hebrew word kodesh is "separated." But separated in the sense of refinement. When we refine something, we separate the substance we desire from extraneous substances that are mixed in with it.

The things that are kodesh are the ordinary events and stuff of life; remaining so, but separated from undesirable elements that would dilute and weaken them.

So the doctrine of kodesh declares: "Don't abandon the world and everyday life—refine it!"

Kodesh tells us:

Don't eschew business and live out of dumpsters—but separate all dishonesty and fuzziness from your marketing.

Don't hesitate to appreciate a really nice wine—but separate it from the rest of your bottles and save it for Shabbat.

Don't live in a state of dreamy oblivion as to your neighbor's shortcomings—confront them as necessary. But separate the momentary experience out of your long-term "ledger" and don't bear grudges.

Don't strangle ambition; indeed strive to attain economic success, but separate out the impurities of greed and arrogance and you will be left with gratitude to G‑d and generosity to those who lack.

Don't get close to G‑d by leaving your everyday life; get close by bringing G‑d into your everyday life. We bring G‑d into the places in our being cleared by separating out the "impurities," the negative character traits, the selfishness, and the shallowness.

So, don't be holy; make your life "kadosh."