Parashat Acharei Mot & Kedoshim: Leviticus; Chapter 16 Verse 1 – Chapter 20 Verse 27

04/24/2018 02:13:07 PM


General Overview: This week we read again two Torah porions, Acharei and Kedoshim, which begins with a detailed description of the service of the High Priest on Yom Kippur. Dozens of commandments are then discussed, among them: the prohibitions against offering sacrifices outside the Temple; consuming blood; incestuous, adulterous, or other forbidden relationships; various mandatory gifts for the poor; love for every Jew, prohibition against sorcery; honesty in business dealings; and sexual morality.

1st Section: The service of Yom Kippur that was performed by the Kohen Gadol in the Temple is described. The Kohen Gadol may only enter into the Holy of Holies wearing his plain linen garments requiring that he change his garments five times and immerse in the Mikveh five times. The selection of the he-goats for the primary Teshuva (repentance) process is described. This portion of the Torah makes up the “Avodah” that is the lengthy Mussaf service on Yom Kippur.

2nd Section: Following the description of the remaining services for Yom Kippur, the Torah discusses the prohibition of offering a Korban (sacrifice/offering) outside of the Mishkan or the Beit Hamikdash. The only offerings allowed were those that were brought to the Temple. The “Bamah”, as an outside altar is called, was among the most prevalent sins for which the Jews were guilty.

3rd Section: The prohibition against eating blood is repeated. The end of Parashat Acharei Mot is devoted to a presentation of the fifteen prohibited sexual relationships. There is no doubt that G-d considers physical intimacy between a male and female as singularly important. Therefore, it is essential that there be a framework of controls for satisfying the physical.

4th Section: Homosexuality and bestiality are prohibited. Verses 18: 24-29 clearly state the unique relationship that the inhabitants of the Israel have to the land and the consequences for defiling her sanctity. The beginning of Parashat Kedoshim states that holiness is realized through keeping Shabbat, being in awe of one’s parents, and not worshipping idols. Laws of charity, honesty, and paying wages on time are stated.

5th Section: Showing any deference while administering justice is forbidden as well as our responsibility to properly reprimand each other. The prohibitions against wearing sha’atnez – any mixture of wool and linen, cutting sideburns (payot), tattooing, a premarital physical relationship, and the use of the occult are stated.

6th& 7th Sections: Proper and equal treatment for the convert, honesty in business, and the prohibition against worshiping the Molech are stated. The remainder of the Parasha states the specific punishments that Beit Din (the Rabbinic Court) would administer for engaging in any of the fifteen sexual relationships listed at the end of Acharei Mot.

The very end of Parashat Kedoshim (20: 22-26) explains the concept of Kedusha (holiness) as the means for being separate from the other nations. Three basic formats for Kedusha exist: Time, place, and person. Acharei Mot began by presenting the ultimate integration of the three in one person; the Kohen Gadol entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. The end of Kedoshim states that the Land of Israel (place), the Jewish Nation (person) and time in general are intended to reflect the integration of G-dliness into the daily lives of individuals and nations. To the extent that we realize our mission as the kingdom of priests and a holy nation will be the degree to which we retain the right to dwell in the Land of Israel.

Haftara: Ezekiel; Chapter 20 Verses 2-20

Haftara Summary: This week's Haftarah mentions G‑d's repeated order to observe the commandments, keep the Shabbat and have nothing to do with idol worship. This is all reflective of this week's Torah portion, which discusses many commandments, including the obligation to sanctify the Shabbat and reject idolatry.

The prophet Ezekiel transmits G‑d's message, reminding the Jews how He chose them as His nation, how He took them out of Egypt and promised to take them to the Holy Land. In Egypt, G‑d dispatched a prophet who exhorted the Jews to abandon their idols, yet they did not do so. He then gave them laws and statutes, including that of the observance of Shabbat as a Brit (covenant/sign) between Him and His people. "But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they walked not in My statutes, and they despised My ordinances, which, if a man keep, he will live through them, and My Sabbaths they desecrated exceedingly."

The prophet goes on to mention G‑d's punishment of the Jews in the desert, namely that they did not enter the Holy Land. He then admonishes the children not to follow their fathers' ways, but to observe the laws and to sanctify the Shabbat.

Sun, May 27 2018 13 Sivan 5778