“Be pure with G-d (Lev. 18:13)” — this is a beautiful expression, as well as a verse in this week’s Torah portion. While it describes a lofty spiritual ideal, what does it mean in a practical sense?
We’ve all met kind people. It’s probably true that the majority of the people we meet seem pleasant and reasonable. Have you ever wondered, “are they always this thoughtful, even when I’m not around? Are they courteous and considerate when they don’t have the social pressure to act appropriately? Are they like this even at home with their own family?”
To this point the Torah writes, “Be pure with G-d.” When you are among people, you act on your best behavior. It’s embarrassing to be crass and selfish in public. When there is no one else around but you and G-d, be pure with G-d too. (Sefer Taam V’Daas, Alshich HaKadosh)
Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt”l, well-known for (thousands of) recordings on topics of Mussar (character refinement), has a famous lecture called “Ten Steps to Greatness.” In that class, he presents a program of ten small practices that lead a person to spiritual greatness. His third step is to secretly perform one good deed a day that is only known to you and G-d. This might be picking up something from the sidewalk that people might slip on, or refilling the soap in the public bathroom. G-d does acts of kindness to mankind, with no hope for reciprocation, and no social pressure. Acting the same, once a day, fulfills the Mitzvah (commandment) of “emulating His ways (Deut. 28:9).”
We all benefit from the motivating pressure of our peers, and it’s important to continue to do so. However, a small, secret act of kindness that we do just for G-d and no one else will give us a spiritual boost in our relationship with G-d, and lead us towards a life of spiritual greatness.