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Acharei Mot/Kedoshim ~ 5773 ~ אחרי מות־קדשים
ACHAREI-MOT — Following the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, G-d warns against unauthorized entry “into the Holy.” Only one person, the Kohen Gadol (“high priest”), may, on Yom Kippur, enter the innermost chamber in the Sanctuary to offer the sacred ketoret to G-d. Another feature of the Day of Atonement service is the casting of lots over two goats to determine which should be offered to G-d and which should be dispatched to carry off the sins of Israel to the wilderness.
The Parashah of Acharei also warns against bringing korbanot (animal or meal offerings) anywhere but in the Holy Temple, forbids the consumption of blood, and details the laws prohibiting incest and other deviant sexual relations.
KEDOSHIM — The following Mitzvahs are incumbent upon the Jewish people to be Holy, since “the L-rd our G-d is Holy.” Reflecting Hashem’s Holiness includes respecting parents, non-idolatrous behavior, proper sacrificial etiquette, leaving the “Peot” of fields to the poor, leaving “Leket”, not stealing or lying and of course, profaning G-d’s name. Grievous in G-d’s laws are placing stumbling blocks before the blind and cursing the deaf.
Justice means “right is right and wrong is wrong,” regardless of the statute of the litigants. Tale bearing, apathy in the face of danger, hatred and vengeance are strictly forbidden. G-d’s creations cannot be deliberately transmitted. In Israel, a tree’s first three years of fruit are forbidden. The fourth harvest is for Holy purposes only. Soothe saying, divination and all manner of Canaanite deprivations are forbidden. The laws concerning mourning and social behavior include “Peot and Tattoos.” Respect for the living and dead are the basis of our culture.
Strangers, foreigners, visitors and temporary residents must be treated with the same dignity and rights as a native or citizen. We must love them as ourselves. Standardized, exact weights and measures must be used for dry, liquid or volume measurements.
The penalty for Molech (child sacrifice) was mandatory stoning. Anyone who ignores or denies knowledge of such acts has committed a grievous sin against G-d. Turning to soothe saying, communicating with the dead, ghosts or spirits is punished by “Karet”.
The penalties for cursing a parent, committing any of the forbidden sexual unions is death. Likewise, the penalty for not observing the laws of family purity, “Taharat HaMishpacha” is stated: KARET. It is forbidden to imitate the heathens of Canaan. We must separate ourselves from them by our behavior, sexual conduct, business ethics and food.
MAFTIR Leviticus 20:25-27 ~ page 508
HAFTARAH Amos 9:7-15 ~ page 509
The haftarah basically clarifies the “deal part” of the command to be holy. Amos stresses that we will be just like all other of G-d’s children on Earth, no different from the Ethiopians, the Philistines, etc. That is, of course, if we don’t remain faithful to G-d. Because if we do, and keep the mitzvot sincerely, then the promises of the Torah will be realized and we will be unique among the nations. It is really up to us. That’s our challenge.
Parashah Study Questions
1. Why was Parashah Kedoshim read in front of all the Jewish people?
2. Rashi states that in a case involving a poor and a rich person, a judge is likely to wrongly favor the poor person. Why (19:15)?
3. The Torah forbids tattooing. How is a tattoo made (19:28)? Are there any ‘kosher tattos”? Can a person with a tattoo be buried in a Jewish cemetery?
4. Is it proper for a Jew to say “I’d enjoy eating ham” (20:26)?
5. Why was Yom Haatzmaut delayed from the Fifth to the Sixth of Iyyar?