Let My People Know

"There are people who have a phobia of holiness"


Not all of those who enter holiness can come out in peace. 

Therefore, when speaking of holiness, of its boundaries and of its values, it is possible to speak about it, not from the vantage point of those who are inside, but from the vantage point of those who are outside, looking in from a distance. 

Sometimes it is a distance of yearning, sometimes of dread and sometimes it is a distance of emotion that often prevails among the more sensitive in our midst:

If I get too close, I shall never be able to come out, I shall never be able to remain what I am, maybe I shall not be able to survive at all.

This is the reason why there are people, and among them good people, who have a phobia of holiness,

Just because they are so strongly attracted to it, one stands before holiness and keeps a distance from it, in sort of a struggle. 

There are people who escape holiness by constantly running in the opposite direction. 

They pursue the mundane in order to avoid the temptation of holiness, which perhaps is the greatest temptation of all, as well as the greatest threat. 

In order to escape the world of problems, one goes out, behaves wildly, exults, becomes drunk or philanders only to avoid any contact with the temptation or the threat of holiness.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From "On Holiness and the Boundaries of Holiness," an essay by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz