Parashat Acharei Mot - Kedoshim

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weekly torah iiParasha for the Week:  Acharei Mot: Leviticus 16:1 – 18:30
Parasha for the Week:  Kedoshim:  Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27
Haftarah for the Week:  Ezekiel 22:1 – 22:19; Amos 9:7 - 15
Besorat Yeshua:  Mark 2:1 - 17

Overview : Acharei mot
G-d instructs the kohanim to exercise extreme care when they enter the Mishkan. On Yom Kippur, the kohen gadol is to approach the holiest part of the Mishkan after special preparations and wearing special clothing.

He brings offerings unique to Yom Kippur, including two identical goats that are designated by lottery. One is "for G-d" and is offered in the Temple, the other is "for Azazel" in the desert.
The Torah states the individual's obligations on Yom Kippur: On the 10th day of the seventh month, one must afflict oneself.

Consumption of blood is prohibited. The blood of undomesticated beasts must be covered.

The people are warned against engaging in the wicked practices that were common in Egypt. Incest is defined and prohibited. Marital relations are forbidden during a woman's monthly cycle. Homosexuality, bestiality and child sacrifice are prohibited.

"Forgiveness on Yom Kippur"
The Torah states, "For on this day (referring to Yom Kippur) you shall receive atonement to purify you for all your transgressions, before the Almighty you shall be purified" (Leviticus 16:30). We can ask the question: does Yom Kippur atone for ALL transgressions?
The Sages in the Talmud (Yoma 85b) clarify that Yom Kippur atones for transgressions between man and the Almighty. However, with regards to transgressions between man and man, Yom Kippur can only atone if a person first attains forgiveness from those whom he has offended or harmed. This includes returning what was taken and possibly financial recompense as well as asking for forgiveness.
From this principle, we see the importance of being careful not to cause other people harm, either financial, physical or emotional.

"Holiness of G-d's People"
Do not imitate the practice of the land of Egypt in which you dwelled; and do not imitate the practice of the land of Canaan to which I bring you, and do not follow their traditions." (Leviticus 18:3) The common theme running through the parashot of Acharei Mot, Kedoshim and Emor is the holiness of G-d's people and the need for its preservation and protection.  In Acharei Mot, we are enjoined not to behave in the depraved manner of the Egyptians and Canaanites (Leviticus 18:3). The verse that concludes this parasha and sums it up is: "And you shall guard My observances." (Leviticus 18:30).

Haftara: Ezekiel 22:1 – 22:19
Parasha: It may seem strange that we speak about Yom Kippur, the day of Judgement, during Passover, but that is how the reading of the parasha worked out this year.  The LORD said to Moses: Tell your brother Aaron not to come just at any time into the sanctuary inside the curtain before the mercy seat that is upon the ark, or he will die; for I appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. (Leviticus 16:2).
Haftara: In the text of the haftara, we have a story of judgment. The prophet is called by G-d to judge the "bloody city". The word of the LORD came to me: You, mortal, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to it all its abominable deeds. You shall say, Thus says the Lord GOD: A city! Shedding blood within itself; its time has come; making its idols, defiling itself. You have become guilty by the blood that you have shed, and defiled by the idols that you have made; you have brought your day near, the appointed time of your years has come. Therefore I have made you a disgrace before the nations, and a mockery to all the countries." (Ezekiel 22:1-4).
G-d is going to scatter His people among the nations. I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you through the countries, and I will purge your filthiness out of you. (Ezekiel 22:15) This judgment of Israel is recorded also to illustrate in what situation we could be as G-d's people today. How do we act every day? What is our relation with the Word of G-d? Which relationship do we have with G-d? Are we the people of the Bible and a people of prayer?  Yom Kippur is every day for us, we are waiting for the coming of the Mashiach from the heavenly sanctuary, in the same way that the High Priest, at the end of the Yom Kippur came out from the tabernacle, to assure G-d's people that they have received forgiveness.  Our G-d is a God of love, he is always ready to forgive us if we come back to Him in true and sincere repentance.  But for true repentance it is necessary to ask God to forgive our sins and also to ask our neighbor to forgive what we have done wrong to them.

Besorat Yeshua:  Mark 2:1 - 17
Parasha: In the text of the Parasha we have many commandments, which invite us to have a holy life. The people of Israel is Holy and must demonstrate this holiness in their life.
Besorah: We have the perfect example of holiness in the life of Yeshua. That’s why the people of Israel who were in contact with him discovered who was Yeshua, they loved him, loved his teaching and loved his deeds. In our Besorah we see Yeshua arriving in Capernahum, in the house of Peter and many people came to the house to see him, to listen to his teaching.  When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. (Mark 2:1-2).   People from Capernahum were sure that Yeshua can heal every sickness, that’s why a group of friends came to Y’shua with a paralytic. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them (Mark 2:3). They were people of faith, a great example for us.  What Yeshua said to the paralytic is in connection with forgiveness (theme of Yom Kippur), “When Yeshua saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5) In this act it is demonstrated that as the Mashiach he had the power to forgive sins.

Overview Kedoshim:
The nation is enjoined to be holy. Many prohibitions and positive commandments are taught:
Theft and robbery
False oaths
Delaying payment to an employee
Hating or cursing anyone
Placing physical and spiritual stumbling blocks
Perversion of justice
Inaction when others are in danger
Embarrassing others
Bearing a grudge
Wearing a garment of wool and linen
Harvesting a tree during its first three years
Gluttony and intoxication
Awe for parents and respect for the elderly
Leaving part of the harvest for the poor
Loving your neighbor as yourself
Eating in Jerusalem the fruits from a tree’s 4th year
Awe for the Temple
Respect for Torah scholars
Respect for the blind and the deaf.

The frame of this Parasha is about holiness, holiness in a biblical meaning “I have set you apart from the nations to be my own” The portion begins, “The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” Lev 19:1-2. The portion ends, “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” Lev. 20:26.
Why is the commandment “You shall rebuke your neighbor,” written between the commandments of, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart,” and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”?  This teaches us that the act of admonishing someone must be done with love and only out of sincere concern for the person’s benefit.  According to the Baal Shem Tov, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” implies that just as you love yourself with all your shortcomings and faults, you should love the other person regardless of his or her faults.
What is the reason for the connection between, “love your neighbor,” and, “I am the Lord?”

"Love Your Neighbor"
The Torah states, “Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Almighty” (Leviticus 19:18). Why is the commandment to love our fellow human being followed by the words “I am the Almighty”? Rabbi Chasam Sofer clarifies that by another explanation, he said that while the commandment to love our fellow man is a concept that anyone can relate to with his own intellect, the Torah tells us to love our fellow man because it is the Almighty’s will.  If your love of other people is based only on your own feelings, there could easily be a lack of consistency. One day you might feel positive towards someone and on the next day your feelings can change. However, the Torah states that the Almighty commands us to love others. We need to develop positive attitudes towards others by allowing God to fill us with His heart.
How can the Almighty command us to love our neighbor? Some of us have neighbors that are awfully hard to appreciate! However, if the Almighty commands it, it must be possible. Because by His power all things are possible.  If you ask a pregnant woman if she will love her baby, she’ll look at you like you’re nuts and say “Of course!” Then you can ask her, “How do you know? Maybe he’ll be like your neighbor!” A pregnant mother knows she will love her baby because she chooses to love that baby. And what if the baby grows up to be an irresponsible teenager flunking out of school who doesn’t make his bed? She’ll still love him! How? She focuses on his good points! “He has a good heart! He’s got a sweet personality! He helps when I ask him to.” We can choose by God’s grace to focus on the positive.

"Before Reproving Your Neighbor"
The Torah states: “You shall reprove your fellow human being.” Leviticus 19:17. When someone tries to criticize or reprove another person, it is obligatory for those words to come from the depths of his heart. The Sages have said that only those words that come from the heart will enter the heart of the other person. Therefore, if your words of correction are not an expression of your inner feelings of care and concern for the welfare of the other person, they will not have a positive influence on the person with whom you are speaking.

“He who loves God will not only love his fellow men, but will regard with tender compassion the creatures which God has made. When the Spirit of God is in man it leads him to relieve rather than to create suffering.” (SD52)

"This is the Entire Torah"
The Talmud (Shabbos 31a) tells the story of a non-Jew who came to the great sage Shamai and said, “I want to convert to Judaism on the condition that you teach me the entire Torah in as short a time as I can stand on one foot.” Shamai refused. He then went to the second great sage of that time, Hillel and said, “Convert me on the condition that you will teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.” Hillel accepted his condition and told him, “What you dislike, do not do to your friend. This is the entire Torah.”
Rabbi Akiva says that the commandment of “Ahavat Yisrael” (“Love your fellow as yourself”) is the most fundamental mitzvah in the Torah. It is not only the basis for the mitzvot between one and the other, but also for the mitzvot between us and G-d.
Since Hillel was referring to the commandment of love your neighbor, why didn’t he just mention the words of this verse?
Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz explains that this is to teach us an important principle. From the words, “love your fellow man” one might think that as long as one feels the emotion of love towards others one fulfills this commandment. However, the truth is that just feeling love alone is not sufficient. Rather, this love must motivate us to do positive things for others and to refrain from any actions or words that could cause someone any pain or suffering.
The Torah definitely requires us to feel deep love for others in our hearts. Even more than that, our behavior towards others must manifest this love. Therefore, Hillel explained to this man that a basic Torah principle is that the same commandment which requires us to have a profoundly positive feeling for others also requires us to behave in an elevated manner in our daily encounters with them.

HAFTARAH:  Amos 9:7 – 15
Haftara: In the book of Amos, the Lord reproaches Israel for what they have done and for their unfaithfulness. However, even though G-d is going to punish Israel, he is very clear Israel’s destiny. He said in Amos 9:8: I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the LORD. He will not entirely destroy the house of Israel. That is why we can witness, two thousand eight hundred years after that prophecy, that Israel is still here on the earth, witnessing for G-d. A great promise is given by the prophet Amos: On that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old (Amos 9:11).  The booth or tent of David is the royal power of the house of David. This tent of David represents the house of the Messiah, the son of David, that began to be built at the coming of the Mashiach Ben David (Acts 15:16), and which will be completely rebuilt when the Mashiach returns to gather together all his people, both Jews and Gentiles.

Besorat Yeshua:
Parasha: Usually the text of the parasha for this week is together with the parasha for last week. Acharei Mot and Kedoshim are read together. This year is a leap year, longer than other years, so we read them separately, although the text of the Besorah is the same.
Besorah: We have the perfect example of holiness in the life of Yeshua. That’s why the people of Israel they loved him, loved his teaching, and loved his deeds. In our Besorah we see Yeshua arriving in Capernahum, in the house of Peter and many people came to the house to see him, to listen to his teaching.  When He returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that He was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. (Mark 2:1-2). People from Capernahum were sure that Yeshua can heal every sickness, that’s why a group of friends came to Him with a paralytic. When Yeshua saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5) We see in these word of Yeshua all his affection for human beings. The leaders of Israel, did not see the glory of G-d through this miracle, they thought that Yeshua was blaspheming, but in fact as the Mashiach he had the power to forgive sins.


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