Overview of the Weekly
To be read on the Shabbat of 8 Iyar, 5762 (April 20)
Amos 9:7-15 (sinning can lead to expulsion from Land - //Lev. 18:24-28)
Pirkei Avot: Chapter Three
Mot contains 2 positive mitzvot and 26 prohibitive
mitzvot. Among the Weekly Readings,
Achrei Mot ranks 45 out of 54 in number of verses, 43
in number of words, and 45 in number of letters
Kedoshim contains 13 positive mitzvot and 38 prohibitive
mitzvot. Among the Weekly Readings,
Kedoshim ranks 49 out of 54 in number of verses, 49 in
number of words, and 49 in number of letters
This week is also a 'double-header'.
Parshas Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:30) opens with
a presentation of the Yom Kippur service. Next are laws regarding slaughtering
animals, followed by a list of forbidden marital relationships. Kedoshim
(Leviticus 19:1-20:27) begins with a list of many different mitzvahs
by which the Jews are commanded to "be holy" (19/1). These
include honoring parents, keeping Shabbos, the forbidding of idolatry,
stealing, false testimony, perversion of justice, hating another Jew,
bearing a grudge, mixing wool and linen in one garment, and more, including
'love one's neighbor as oneself' (19/18). This list is then followed
by another which concerns forbidden practices as in agricultural laws,
consumption of blood, belief in omens, seeking out mediums, tattoos,
immorality, removing a man's side locks, and more. The Jews are also
commanded to respect elders, have honest weights, loving converts, and
a number of other mitzvahs. The last part of the parsha lists transgressions
and their corresponding penalties.
THE CHASSIDIC REBBES (V:29.30-62/Acharei
"Your descendants you
will not offer up to Molech." [18:21]
In our days there doesn't exist
any religion that demands burning one's children for an idol or false
god. Nevertheless, anyone who sends his children for an education that
denies the creation, that denies all the basic concepts of our holy Torah,
is guilty of this kind of idol worship.
Kochaveh Asher (From
Sichat HaShavua #486)
"You shall love your
neighbor as yourself, I am the L-rd." [19:18]
When two Jews love each other,
it completes the Name of G-d, because twice "ahava" [love] is
numerically equivalent tp 26, which is also the numerical value of the
four-letter Holy Name of G-d. Through "love your neighbor as yourself"
one comes to "I am the L-rd" - the Name of G-d will be complete
Rebbe Shaul-Yedidya Taub
of Modjitz [translated from Sichat HaShavuah #486]
FROM THE MASTERS OF KABBALAH (O:29.30-62/Acharei
permission from the five-volume English edition of Ohr HaChaim: the
Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, as translated and annotated
by Eliyahu Munk.
The holy Rabbi Chayim ben Moses Attar was born in Sale, Western Morocco,
on the Atlantic in 1696. His immortal commentary on the Five Books Of
Moses, Or Hachayim, was printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was
on his way to the Holy Land. He acquired a reputation as a miracle worker,
hence his title "the holy," although some apply this title only
to his Torah commentary.
Aaron's two sons, who brought an [unauthorized] offering before
G-d and died." [16:1]
Another approach to the word
veyamutu focuses on the nature of these sons' deaths rather than on the
fact of their deaths. The Torah writes 'who brought an offering,' [in
Hebrew the word kiravtam has the same roots as the word for proximity,
nearness] to describe that due to their love for G-d these people came
too near the celestial source of light which has a deadly effect on man.
This is the mystical dimension of what is commonly known as "death
by Divine kiss," the kind of death experienced by both Aaron and
Moses eventually. The deaths of Nadav and Avihu were similar to the death
of all other completely righteous men.
The only difference was that in the case of the deaths of people such
as Moses and Aaron G-d's "kiss of death" approaches them, whereas
in this case Nadav and Avihu approached "the kiss of death."
This is the meaning of the extra letter vav in veyamutu.
The Torah alludes to the fact that though these righteous people felt
that they were approaching an area which would result in this "kiss
of death," they did not flinch and kept getting closer.
They attained a state of religious intoxication. The desire of their souls
to fuse with the divine was so overpowering that they no longer made decisions
in which their powers of conscious perception were involved.
"Do not oppress your
This verse also contains an
allusion to the well known statement by our sages (Berachot 28) that Torah
scholars do not find much sustenance in this life. We also have a Yalkut
Shimoni (item 934 on Proverbs) on Proverbs 3:3 which appears to promise
much temporal reward for Torah study. The Torah is supposed to have wanted
to know why people studying it are usually so poor.
I have heard a good answer to this question in the name of the Ari
He explained that the physical universe we live in would be unable to
absorb all the goodness G-d would have to bestow on the Torah scholars.
G-d therefore decided to bestow such goodness only on the average individuals
who in turn are charged with looking after the material needs of the Torah
This teaches that the only reason there are apparently undeserving wealthy
people in this world is that the serve as a marzev, a channel to
furnish sustenance to the Torah scholars. G-d has commanded here that
a (wealthy) person must not oppress a Torah scholar by withholding the
material benefits from him which it is his function to provide for his
fellow Jew, the Torah scholar.
essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter
gave us 613 commandments. The rabbis added another 7. A complete guide
on conduct, what to do and what not to do. It would seem that a Jew who
fulfills all of them has achieved the ultimate. Yet we have an interesting
directive in the second of this week's two portions. The verse says, "Sanctify
yourselves and be sanctified" (Leviticus 20:7). Some commentaries
explain the intention of this verse as, "one should sanctify oneself
even with what is permitted." Meaning to say, even that which the
Torah allows should be sanctified by limiting ourselves in what we require
and not overindulging.
When a Jew sees that he or
she desires something in the world too much (even for those things that
are acceptable), they should hold back and make do with less. This is
what is meant by 'to sanctify oneself,' to be able to detach oneself from
the physical. Chassidim have an expression, "what is forbidden is
forbidden, what is permissible, you don't need it."
Why is this? Clearly, G-d made
exactly the amount of commandments that were required. Why should it be
necessary to take it a step further, putting limitations on what is permitted?
Within the answer to this question that the Rebbe gives is the ultimate
purpose of the Torah and its commandments.
What does Torah do? Torah purifies
and improves both the character and the soul of the individual, bringing
them closer to G-d. When a Jew learns Torah and fulfills the commandments
he intensifies his spiritual strengths, moving higher up the spiritual
ladder. When he accepts the Torah's premises yet simply fulfills only
what the Torah says is required of him, essentially he is demonstrating
a lack of choice [Since it is unavoidable, I will negate my will to the
will of G-d.] On the other hand, when he 'sanctifies himself' through
limiting even what is permissible, this shows that he is not acting out
of obligation; on the contrary, he identifies so much with Torah lifestyle
that he searches for even more aspects of physicality to imbue with the
light of holiness. He is doing it because he wants to. Like making an
extra effort when you love someone. The suggestion is to start to reexamine
our relationship with physicality; not a wholesale program of self-denial.
This is not only the most effective means to cleansing and improving oneself,
this is the foundation of how to connect to G-d.
Chassidic philosophy reveals
a secret. To bring the final redemption with Mashiach, it is not enough
for the Jewish people to fulfill the commandments and to restrain ourselves
from what is forbidden. To bring the redemption we have to show through
our actions that we really want it. This can only happen when we lessen
our desires for the physical. Then we show that our connection to G-d
is not limited to our spiritual side, but to every aspect of our life.
No detail of the physical plane should be outside of our service to G-d.
This will reflect what reality will be like in the future redemption.
In the time of the Mashiach, the entire world, even mundane things, will
also clearly be experienced as something divine.
The way to prepare ourselves
for the times of Mashiach is by first sanctifying ourselves with what
is permitted. This will indicate that we are truly devoted to G-d, and
then, through our efforts now, we can bring the final, complete and true
redemption, and open our eyes and see G-dliness in every aspect of the