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May 6, 2022

Bird Rent (Parshas Kedoshim)

As a property manager, I receive many strange phone calls.

Recently, I got a call from a tenant. She said, “Hi good afternoon, my niece just dropped off a bird that is three days old. I was wondering if I have to pay rent for the bird?”

I listened to her, patiently waiting for her to start laughing and tell me she was joking. Seriously? Pay rent for a bird? Why in the world would you need to pay rent for a bird?!

I told to her that she does not need to pay rent for her little bird, and then I asked her, “Excuse me mam, don’t mind me asking, but are you actually being serious or are you just playing a joke on me?”

She explained to me that she was being 100% serious. She actually thought she would have to pay extra rent for her bird. I was blown away at this tenant’s honesty and before hanging up, I told her exactly that, “I appreciate your honesty.”

Honesty is by far one of the greatest characteristics that a person can strive for. By many sins, the Torah tells us, “Don’t do this” or “Don’t do that” or “This is abominable” or “This is sinful,” and so on. By one sin, though, the Torah tells us “Distance yourself from it.” That is, by the sin of שקר, falsehood and dishonesty. The Torah tells us (Shemos 23:7), מדבר שקר תרחק – stay far away from dishonesty.

We often hear about the concept of honesty in regards to business, the workplace, and other financial circumstances. But there is another area of our lives that requires us to be super honest. And that, my friends, is how we perceive ourselves.

Too much of the time we straight up lie to ourselves, thinking that we are unholy, incapable, and unworthy. The Torah tells us the truth, however. It says (Vayikra 19:2) קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ – You shall be holy since I – Hashem – am holy.

Do we all have room for growth? Yes. Do we all fall down? Without a doubt. But does not being perfect mean that you are unholy? Absolutely not!

The Torah is the word of G-d, and in it He writes, “You shall be holy.” Enough said. We have to stop lying to ourselves and being dishonest about who and what we are. Deep down, at our core, each of us is holy. And that is the truth, no matter what.

Let us hope and pray that we see ourselves from a perspective of truth. May we learn to see ourselves the way G-d sees us, as holy people!