Parsha Achrei Mot-Kedoshim – 5777

Parshat Achrei Mot-Kedoshim In-Depth

“After the death of the two sons of Aaron (Leviticus 16:1)

Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah would explain this with a parable. A sick person was visited by a physician, who said to him: “Do not eat cold food and do not lie in the damp, lest you die.” There then came a second physician, who said to him: “Do not eat cold food and do not lie in the damp, lest you die as so-and-so died.” The second one influences him more than the first. Thus it says: “After the death of the two sons of Aaron.” (Rashi)”

Torah Sparks: Achrei Mot-Kedoshim 5777

“We are warned: “Do not profane your daughter to make a whore of her, lest the land play the whore and the land be filled with depravity” (Lev. 19:29). This being Leviticus, we may read this as a warning against sending our daughters into cultic prostitution. There is no evidence, though, of sex with strangers as a sacred rite to increase fertility in the ancient Near East. That, then, is not the behavior banned by this verse.

What, then, are we to avoid imposing on our daughters, and presumably discourage them from doing even at their own initiative?”

What Judaism Says About the Golden Rule

“For the last few years, I have been a member of a local hospital’s ethics committee. The hospital is part of a university-based system and the committee’s chair is a scholarly pulmonologist with a propensity to pick cases involving life and death choices. Other members include nurses, medical specialists, administrators, and social workers. I am the only clergy member of the group. The literature we review is mostly derived from case histories written by medical doctors and generally balances such diverse factors as medical practice, hospital liability, economics, patient rights, and culture. Our purpose is not to advise but rather to review past cases, many with close parallels in our hospital.”

Life, Death and Holiness

“Tears and hope, fears and resolve, profound sadness and fierce determination – that is the mood in Israel this week. How ironic that this week’s double Torah portion is called “Akharey Mot/Kedoshim”, which translates as “After death — Holiness.”

I stood on the balcony of a relative’s apartment directly overlooking the Moment Café, where just a couple of weeks ago a homicide bomber blew himself up killing 11 Israelis, including a young couple celebrating their impending wedding. Amidst the rubble and devastation, the flowers and candles left by mourners was a defiant and poignant banner that captured like nothing else the grief and resolve of our Jewish family in Israel who face uncertainty and sorrow every single day. The banner proclaimed, “bokhim, bokhim, bokhim, ve-hamshikh ha-lah” – “We cry, we cry, we cry….and then we continue to go on.” After all the deaths, they are still searching for the holiness.”

Haftarah Parshat Achrei Mot-Kedoshim

“This brief haftarah of eight sentences completes the book of Amos. It seemingly contains two diametrically opposite messages. It begins by reminding the people that when it comes to improper behavior, their special status as God’s chosen will not allow them to avoid punishment. (7-10) This message is followed immediately by a vision of the restoration of the Davidic monarchy and the reestablishment of the nation in its own homeland under idyllic conditions which will reign in perpetuity. This lack of symmetry in Amos’ message has led some modern scholars to assert that the later message must be an addendum appended to the book so that it might end on a positive note. (S. Paul notes that this is the point of view of the infamous 18th-19th century German Bible critic, Julius Wellhausen. See Amos, Mikra L’Yisrael, pp. 144-5)”