Songs of Joy, Counterpoints of Tragedy

Songs of Joy, Counterpoints of Tragedy

May 6, 2016 By Jonathan Lipnick | Commentary | Aharei Mot

Perhaps the Torah speaks now, in the spring of atonement, because we know so well our songs of joy carry with them counterpoints of tragedy. 

Why should we be reading about Yom Kippur around the time Pesah is celebrated? These two holidays seem so different, and yet, in her poem “Aharei Mot,” Ruth Brin was on to something, leading me to wonder: How was I to understand the interrelationship between Yom Kippur and Pesah? How was I to take Ruth Brin’s instructive words to heart? 

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Where Is Authority Found?

Where Is Authority Found?

May 6, 2016 By Benjamin D. Sommer | Commentary | Aharei Mot

People familiar with the dietary laws of Judaism know that meat from an animal that died a natural death or was torn apart by wild beasts is not kosher. This is stated explicitly in the Torah. Exodus 22:30 reads, “You shall be my holy people: you may not eat meat torn by beasts in the field; you should throw it to dogs.” (The Hebrew word for “torn by beasts”—terefah—refers specifically to torn flesh in biblical Hebrew.)

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Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat

Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat

Apr 16, 2011 By Andrew Shugerman | Commentary | Text Study | Aharei Mot | Shabbat Hagadol

One of my favorite customs for Shabbat Hagadol is to read the Maggid section of the Passover Haggadah in advance of the first seder.

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Explaining the Inexplicable?

Explaining the Inexplicable?

Apr 20, 2002 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

In speaking of the legal corpus which dominates this week’s double parashah, the Torah makes use of two terms, mishpatim and hukkim, translated as “rules” and “laws.” Technically, as Baruch A. Levine makes clear in his commentary, they reflect two sources of legal practice. The word mishpatim deriving from the root sh-f-t, “to judge,” embodies rules articulated in a judicial setting. Hukkim from the root h-k-k “to engrave” or “inscribe” suggests laws promulgated by decree. In our parashah the terms seem to be synonymous, because God is the only lawgiver: “My rules (mishpatim) alone shall you observe, and faithfully follow My laws (hukkim): I the Lord am your God” (18:4).

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Mitzvah vs. Mitzvah

Mitzvah vs. Mitzvah

May 5, 2001 By Joshua Heller | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

Sometimes in the Biblical text, the first half and second half of a verse seem to be talking past each other. The first half addresses one commandment or concept, and the second half seems to go off on a tangent. This strange type of juxtaposition appears a number of times in K’doshim , the second half of our double portion for the week.

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Love for All

Love for All

May 9, 1998 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

This Shabbat we will read two Torah portions, Aharei Mot and K’doshim . The topics covered in these parashiyot range from the ritual requirement of sending a scapegoat out to the desert on Yom Kippur, to a list of forbidden sexual relationships, to fundamental social legislation, reminiscent somewhat of the Ten Commandments.

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Our Neighbor’s Blood

Our Neighbor’s Blood

May 1, 2004 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Aharei Mot

What’s in a translation? When the translation is of a verse in the Torah – there is potentially quite a lot. Therefore, in reading the Etz Hayim Humash’s translation of Leviticus 19:16, I was struck by its rather non-literal translation of Lo ta-a-mod al dam ray-ekha. In the context of surrounding verses concerning fair and just treatment of others, Etz Hayim translates our verse: “Do not profit by the blood of your fellow”, and the commentary on the verse tells us that, in context, the verse seems to mean: “Do not pursue [your] livelihood in a way that endangers another or at the expense of another’s well-being.” (p. 696) This translation and commentary do seem to fit the context of the surrounding verses.

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“All beginnings are difficult”

“All beginnings are difficult”

Apr 26, 2003 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Pesah | Yom Kippur

All beginnings are difficult.” This rabbinic maxim resonates with us on many levels. As individuals, we experience the challenge of beginning a new job, a new phase of life, a new relationship or a new place of residence. As a Jewish people, we also recognize and ritualize this truism. We have just concluded our Passover celebration, in which we commemorate and reenact the difficult beginnings of our national identity. The Mishnah instructs us to organize our Seder with the awareness of the difficulty of beginnings: “One begins with disgrace and concludes with glory” (Mishnah Pesahim 10:4).

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