This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Acharei Mos is dedicated Lilui Nishmas for My Mother: Chaya bat Zalman who was niferet on 22 Nissan 5775.
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Parshiyot Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are normally what baseball fans refer to as another of the “doubleheader” parshiyot. But this is one of those years of both Adar A (Alef) and Adar B (Bet), so the parshiyot each have their own Shabbos and leyning.
Just as Parshiyot Tazria and Metzora are extensions of each other, visa vi Tumah and Ta’Hara regarding post-birth, regarding skin, hair, clothing or regarding one’s home or building; Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are extensions of each other regarding Kohanim, Yom Kippur, the Kohen’s Yom Kippur avodah in the Kodosh Kedoshim and the Kohanic model of Darchim, which ideally the entire B’nai Yisrael would embrace and exhibit as a paradigm, as model, as a light for all mankind.
Our Parshat opens with Torah describing the service of the Kohen Godol on Yom Kippur:
“Hashem spoke to Moshe after the deaths of Aaron’s two sons, when they approached before Hashem and they died. And Hashem said to Moshe; Speak to Aaron, your brother — he shall not come at all times into the Sanctuary, within the curtain, in front of the Cover that is upon the Aron[HaKodesh] so that he should not die… With this shall Aaron come to into the Sanctuary…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posukim 1-3 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)
Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein z”l, the Sochaczever Rebbe, comments on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posukim 1-3 in his sefer “Shem Mishmuel” (Rendered into English by Rabi Zvi Belovski, page 257):
The verses continue by detailing all of the procedures that the Kohen Godol must execute on that great day. The surprising thing is the verses give us no indication as to which day they are referring. Rashi tells us:
“With this” — even this cannot be done on any day except for Yom Kippur, as it is explicit at the end of the [Perek]: “…In the seventh month, on the tenth day…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 29)
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 266-267) cites Rashi regarding the opening posuk of our Parsha; “Hashem spoke to Moshe after the deaths of Aaron’s two sons” in explaining the effectiveness of not merely citing a fact, but providing examples to illustrate the fact cited:
Rashi cites… Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariya… [about] an ill person who is visited by a physician. The doctor said to him, “Do not eat such and such foods, and do not sleep in a damp place.” Then another physician came to him and said, “Do not eat such and such foods, and do not sleep in a damp place in order that you should not die like this certain person.” The second doctor will have a much stronger effect than the first doctor. Therefore, Torah emphasizes that Hashem spoke to Moshe after the death of the two sons of Aaron.
From this Rashi we see an important lesson lesson in how to make… communications more effective. It is not sufficient to convey to others abstract… and general warnings. Rather, we must add practical illustrations…
Dictionary.com provides the following synonym for “illustration”:
The act of clarifying or explaining; elucidation.
This attribute of providing illustrations and examples, of providing clarity regarding facts or issues applies to more than only behaviors, as described in a full reading of the cited pages of R’ Pliskin’s “Growth Through Torah.” And mere so-called “facts” alone, conveyed through unknowing, jaundiced or prejudicial words can be wrong or inaccurate. Seeking clarity is a particular theme for me at the first Yarhtzeit of my Mother: Chaya bat Zalman, she should have an Aliyah in Shemayim.
Clarity played an important part at points in my Mother’s life. To cite relevant excerpts from my hespid:
Mere days after my parents’ wedding, while on their honeymoon, their hotel burned to the ground — my Father’s life saved due to the advent of penicillin which in 1945 was administered only to US military personnel. Nine months later, my Mother gave birth to a daughter destined to pass away at two years due to the genetic disorder – Tay Sachs which, at that time, was unknown to, and confounded American doctors. It was only once she took the daughter to a doctor in Montreal, that she received clarity, that the child was diagnosed as having Tay Sachs. B’H, later in life, when much attention was focused on areas of genetic research, I was tested and found not to be a carrier of the gene.
In my early childhood years, we lived in a North Philly post-World War 2 community. We lived at 10th and Butler St., a corner house with a store front — my parents together operated a Mom ‘n Pop grocery store for about 6 years. As an only child who was shy, introverted; attending a public school, I was a child written off by a cruel, arrogant first grade teacher as being backward, retarded, seen as never amounting to anything. My Mother was one who fought for her child’s future by having me tested numerous times and by being active in that school’s PTA for as long as we lived in that community — again clarity.
And finally, in September and early October, 2015 some seven months before my Mother’s passing, she was seriously ill, and it was thought that the end was near. A head nurse in intensive care in a Florida hospital was telling the family that she needed a procedure in order to get nutrition, despite the fact that one of the other nurses informed us that my Mother had passed certain tests which never made it to her medical record. My Mother rallied miraculously giving us more time with her, thanks to Hashem’s kindness in giving us great counsel; by way of the gentleman handling my Parents’ affairs, the medical personnel at my Parents’ assisted living facility, Rabbi Dr. Maurice Lamm Founder, President of the National Institute of Jewish Hospice and the Hospice organization which provided care for my Mother in my Parents’ apartment during her final months — yet again, clarity.
I hearken back to Aaron’s question which brought clarity, after Moshe’s chiding of he and Elazar and Ithamar, regarding their not having eaten of the he-goat of the sin-offering after the deaths of Nadav and Avihu due to their unauthorized service.
“Aaron spoke to Moshe; ‘… Now that such things befell me — were I to eat this day’s sin-offering, would Hashem approve?’ Moshe heard and he approved. (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 10, posukim 19-20, translation rendered in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, page 597)
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nearly 1 3/4 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.