and] I have separated you from the nations…." The Jewish people must
be separate from the nations of the world. And they must be separate
specifically in those areas in which we are seemingly similar, such as
eating, drinking, conducting business and so forth.
The ultimate purpose of a Jew’s holiness and spirituality, though, is
not egocentric – to be holy just for himself. Rather, as the Torah says
of our ancestor Abraham, "in order that he will command his children and
his household after him, and they shall keep the way of G-d…" So, one
of the reasons for our remaining separate from the other nations is to
be able to guide our children to walk in the ways of our ancestors. And
this is why the mitzva to be holy is followed by "every person shall
fear his mother and his father" – which alludes to the obligation of
Parents are the first educators. The mother and father must instill in
their children the feeling that they are different from the rest of the
world, that they are part of a holy nation.
The sequence in that verse is "his mother and his father," mentioning
first the mother. For the mother is the foundation of the house, and the
major part of the actual education is in her hands.
How does a person imbue his children, and himself, with the
consciousness of being a holy nation? This is brought out by the third
commandment, "You shall keep My Sabbaths."