Parashat Acharei Mot Weekly Torah Portion
Welcome to my first Parasha blog. We will start with a quick overview of the weekly Parasha, Parashat Achrei Mot followed by a message for Shabbat.
A Quick Summary Of Parashat Acharei Mot:
In Parashat Achrei Mot we read about a number of important laws. The Parasha opens with the service of the Kohein Gadol – the High Priest on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur, as described in the Torah was centered around the Temple and the service of the High Priest who represented the Jewish People before Hashem.
On only one day a year was he permitted to enter the Holy of Holies to pray and ask for forgiveness for the sins of the Jewish People.
The parasha continues to highlight what is forbidden for a Jew to engage in. In particular a large list of forbidden sexual relationships. The Jewish People are to be a אַתֶּ֧ם תִּהְיוּ־לִ֛י מַמְלֶ֥כֶת כֹּהֲנִ֖ים וְג֣וֹי קָד֑וֹשׁ אֵ֚לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תְּדַבֵּ֖ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:6)
Embedded within Parashat Achrei Mot is a verse that above all teaches us a fundamental principle of Judaism. The Torah states: (Lev 18:4)
.וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֤ם אֶת־חֻקֹּתַי֙ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֔י אֲשֶׁ֨ר יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתָ֛ם הָאָדָ֖ם וָחַ֣י בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָֽה
You shall keep My laws and My rules, by the pursuit of which man shall live: I am the LORD.
The Torah commands us to live by the commandments. From this verse, the Talmud in Yoma 85B derives the famous law of Pikuach Nefesh. That the saving of a life shall override the commandments. For you shall live by the commandments but not endanger your life for them. Except for the famous big three of murder, idolatry and sexual immorality.
Many years ago, I saw a fantastic idea related to this verse that, transformed the way I approach my Judaism. You shall live by the commandments. It means not in the narrow sense to live by the commandments, rather than our life is the commandments.
Does the fulfillment of the mitzvah give you a zest for life? A passion?
The Torah is commanding us to live the mitzvot- to be excited and enthused by the chance and opportunity to do a mitzvah. When was last time you were excited to perform a mitzvah? Maybe the first bite of this year’s matzah? Shema? Lighting Shabbat candles?
The Torah is teaching us that we must live for the mitzvot, that we should be passionate about the mitzvot. Doing a mitzvah should make us feel alive with excitement at the opportunity to connect with Hashem.
We need to learn how to become passionate and alive Jews. We get excited about the latest Marvel movie, tv show or sports game. Surely we can live our Judaism and approach a mitzvah with a least the same enthusiasm?
And you shall live by the commandments for I am Hashem. Be a passionate Jew!
Thank you for all your support. Comments are welcome.