“After the Death…”

“After the Death…”

Apr 29, 1995 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Aharei Mot

The name of this week’s parasha, “After the Death,” captures our state of mind as Americans. In the wake of the carnage in Oklahoma City we fear acts of terrorism more than acts of nature. An earthquake or hurricane can be devastating, but never vicious. As it smashes our pride, an act of nature fills us with awe, not loathing or revulsion. In one horrifying episode, we realize again the stark truth that for all of humanity’s daunting conquests of nature, we have barely begun to conquer ourselves. Americans are as vulnerable to the demented fury of the allegedly aggrieved as anyone else.

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Good in the Face of Evil

Good in the Face of Evil

Sep 27, 2001 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Pinehas | Yom Kippur

Recent events infuse words long cherished with unexpected meaning. In the days of the Temple, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies but once a year on Yom Kippur. As the repository for the Torah, it precluded easy access.

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Passover in the Light of Yom Kippur

Passover in the Light of Yom Kippur

May 1, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim | Pesah | Yom Kippur

If the first half of this week’s double parasha reminds you of Yom Kippur, despite our proximity to Passover, you are not in error. The two Torah readings for that solemn day are both drawn from Aharei Mot. Chapter 16, which we read at Shaharit on Yom Kippur morning, depicts the annual ceremony on the tenth day of the seventh month for cleansing the tabernacle of its impurities and the people of their sins. The English word “scapegoat” preserves a verbal relic of the day’s most memorable feature – the goat destined to carry off symbolically the collective guilt of the nation into the wilderness. Chapter 18, reserved for Minhah in the afternoon, defines the sexual practices which were to govern the domestic life of Israelite society.

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Pesah: The Great Redemption

Pesah: The Great Redemption

Apr 23, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Shabbat Hagadol

The Shabbat just prior to Passover is known as the Great Sabbath, Shabbat HaGadol.

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Proclaiming Freedom

Proclaiming Freedom

May 15, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

On our way to Shavuot from Pesach, we read three Torah portions that epitomize the deep structure of Judaism. The challenge of freedom is to make it a blessing. How can we avoid frittering it away in dissipation, keeping it from morphing into a curse? The Hebrew names of these parshiyot bear the message: mountain, laws and wilderness. The Torah forges a religion designed to get us through the chaos of an engulfing wilderness with a ramified system of legal prescriptions whose inspiration is rooted in the revelation at Mount Sinai. A faith-based community is the matrix of individual survival in a hostile environment.

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The Holiness of Immigration Reform

The Holiness of Immigration Reform

May 6, 2006 By JTS Alumni | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

By Rabbi Felipe Goodman

One of the most beautiful yet most difficult to understand statements made by God in the entire Torah is contained in the opening verses of Parashat Kedoshim: “K’doshim tihyu ki kadosh Ani Adonai Eloheihem [You shall be holy, for I, The Lord your God, am holy].” In a sense, this is one of the things that we as humans expect God to demand from us. To read the opening words of Parashat K’doshim produces no great shock or crisis in faith; on the contrary, it immediately makes us proud to know that God expects more from us than what we usually expect from ourselves.

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Caring for Our Parents

Caring for Our Parents

May 9, 2009 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

The third verse of Parashat K’doshim says, “Ish imo v’aviv tira’u” (One should revere his mother and father) (Lev. 19:3). The same mandate appears twice as the fifth commandment, “Kabed et avikha v’et imekha” (Honor your father and your mother) (Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16). Honoring parents was considered a virtue in the Roman world. Parents took care of their children, and children were expected to return the favor when parents grew old. But Rome did not create a legal obligation to care for parents, and a child who refused to do so could not be compelled by the courts.

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The Treasure of Inner Wisdom

The Treasure of Inner Wisdom

May 5, 2012 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

The very sage pediatrician who examined my newborn son, my firstborn, asked me what his temperament is like. My husband and I exchanged looks, and out poured our utter dismay at how to handle our colicky little treasure. I will never forget the doctor’s words of advice: You know what to do. Listen to your gut instincts. You are already wise.

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