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Acharei Mot(Leviticus 16-18)

Acharei Mot 5763

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GOOD MORNING!  This Tuesday evening, April 22, is the Seventh Day of Pesach, a full-fledged holiday which extends through Thursday evening, the 24th. The crossing of the Yam Soof, usually translated as the Red Sea, more correctly translated as "The Reed Sea" or "Sea of Reeds," took place on this day. And thus continued the 50 day journey of self-perfection until the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.

How do we begin to improve ourselves? It starts with a decision to change. What if you had a special clock on top of your television that was counting down the hours and minutes until you were to die? When would you get up, turn off the TV and do all the things that you planned to do, hoped to do or in passing thought about doing?

And what if in addition to your special clock, you had a special bank account where every morning you were credited in your bank account with $86,400 dollars on condition that you had to spend it all or lose it? What would you do? Spend it!! Well, you do have a special bank account called the Bank of Time! Each day you have exactly 86,400 seconds. What you don't invest wisely is written off each night. You can reap dividends, but you can't go into overdraft!

One has to value his time and know that it is limited in order to change. The Sephirat HaOmer period is about valuing time and about changing.


Q & A: WHAT IS SEPHIRAT HA-OMER?

On the second day of Pesach, the Omer offering from the new barley crop was brought in the Temple in Jerusalem. It began a period of counting and preparation for Shavuot, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the yearly celebration of re-accepting the Torah upon ourselves. This period is called Sephirat HaOmer, the counting of the Omer.

Forty-nine days are counted each year and on the fiftieth day is Shavuot, the Yom Tov celebrating the giving of the Torah. There is actually a Mitzvah to count each specific day which is done at the completion of Ma'ariv, the evening service.

This is a period of national semi-mourning (no weddings or even haircuts). It was during this period that Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students died for not showing proper respect towards each other. It is a time for us to reflect how we look upon and treat our fellow Jews as well as the tragedies that have befallen us because of unfounded (self-justified) hatred. It is a wonderful time to undertake to do an extra act of kindness; this will help to help bring perfection to the world and unity amongst Jews.

These 50 days also correspond to the seven weeks after the Exodus from Egypt when the Jewish people prepared themselves to receive the Torah at Mt. Sinai. When we left Egypt we were on the 49th level of Tuma, spiritual degradation. Each day we climbed one step higher in spirituality and holiness. Many people study one of the "48 Ways to Wisdom" (found in Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, 6:6) each day as a means to personal and spiritual growth. An excellent tape collection by the great educator and founder of Aish HaTorah, Rabbi Noah Weinberg, is available by calling (800) 864-2373. I refer to this collection (available on tape, CD's or even in MP3 format) as the "Jewish Dale Carnegie Course" for getting the most out of life! It will be one of the great purchases in your life!


Torah Portion of the Week
Acharei Mot

Acharei Mot includes the Yom Kippur service where the Cohen Gadol cast lots to designate two goats - one to be sacrificed, the other to be driven to a place called Azazel - after the Cohen Gadol - the High Priest - confessed the sins of the people upon its head. Today it is a very popular epithet in Israel to instruct another person in the heat of an argument to "go to Azazel." I don't believe the intent, however, is to look for the goat....

The goat sent to Azazel carried away the sins of the Jewish people. This, I surmise, is the source of the concept of using a scapegoat. One thing you can truly give credit to the Jewish people - when we use a scapegoat, at least we use a real goat!

The Torah then proceeds to set forth the sexual laws - who you are not allowed to marry or have relations with. If one appreciates that the goal of life is to be holy, to perfect oneself and to be as much as possible like God, then he/she can appreciate that it is impossible to orgy at night and be spiritual by day.

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"For on this day (referring to Yom Kippur) you shall receive atonement to purify you for all your transgressions, before the Almighty you shall be purified." (Leviticus 16:30)

Does Yom Kippur atone for ALL transgressions?

The Sages in the Talmud (Yoma 85b) clarify that Yom Kippur atones for transgressions between man and the Almighty. However, with regards to transgressions between man and man, Yom Kippur can only atone if a person first attains forgiveness from those whom he has offended or harmed. This includes returning what was taken and possibly financial recompense as well as asking for forgiveness.

From this principle, we see the importance of being careful not to cause other people harm, either financial, physical or emotional.

It is proper to forgive those who sincerely ask for forgiveness; however, it is not always easy to forgive. One has to be able to forgive with a full heart for the person to receive atonement from the Almighty. Therefore, since this is difficult for a person to do, we should be even more careful not to wrong or hurt someone.


PIRKEI AVOT 3:18

"Beloved is Man that he was created in the image of the Almighty; a greater love that He informed him that he was created in God's image; as it says in the Torah, 'For in the image of God He made man.' " (Genesis 9:6).



CANDLE LIGHTING - April 25:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)

Jerusalem  6:36
Guatemala 5:58  Hong Kong 6:28  Honolulu 6:34
J'Burg 5:25  London 7:53  Los Angeles 7:13
Melbourne 5:20  Miami 7:30  Moscow 7:36
New York 7:27  Singapore  6:50



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

You can give without loving,
but you cannot love without giving.
    -- Amy Carmichael



With great appreciation
to the Almighty
upon the Eighth birthday
of our daughter
Dina Sheva
Love,
Abba and Ema



Happy Birthday!
Jerry Hahn



Published: April 23, 2003

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