Weekly Reading Insights

Acharei Mot/Kedoshim 5762

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Acharei Mot/Kedoshim
To be read on the Shabbat of 8 Iyar, 5762 (April 20)

[for mystical and other insights for the Pesach festival, go to <holidays and kabbala and Ascent of Safed - In The City of Kabbalah Shoot the Rabbi.
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Torah: Lev.16:1-20:27
Haftorah: Amos 9:7-15 (sinning can lead to expulsion from Land - //Lev. 18:24-28)
Pirkei Avot: Chapter Three

Stats: Achrei 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,
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.


FROM THE CHASSIDIC REBBES (V:29.30-62/Acharei Mot/Kedoshim)

Acharei Mot

"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 Mot/Kedoshim )

Selected with 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.

Acharei Mot

"…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 fellow Jew.."
Lev. 19:13

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 Zal.
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 scholars.
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.

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter

(W:29.30-62/Acharei Mot/Kedoshim )

G-d 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 world.

Shabbat Shalom!

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