29 Achareimot Kedoshim

 וַיְדַבֵּר יהוה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה אַחֲרֵי מ֔וֹת שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן בְּקָרְבָתָם לִפְנֵי־יהוה וַיָּמֻתוּ׃

Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the Lord, and died;





Brit Chadasha

April 29 2023

Acharei mot Kedoshim
“After Death-Holy”


Amos 9:7-15

Rom. 3:19-28
1Peter 1:13-21


Holiness is not only an ideal state to be striven for but a force to be treated with caution.

The Torah reading opens with God speaking to Moses in the aftermath of the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu, who “drew too close to the presence of the Lord” (Lev. 16:1). Their death is both shocking and mysterious. But most immediately, as is the case in the aftermath of any trauma, we want to learn how to avoid another tragic “accident.” Accordingly, God now instructs Aaron in the etiquette of approaching the Divine Presence. Explicit direction is given to this end: “Only in this fashion will Aaron enter the Shrine: with a bull of the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He will be dressed in a sacral linen tunic” (Lev. 16: 3–4) while in Parashat Kdoshim, striking that the Torah reading is not solely occupied with death. Specifically, we read of life in this Parasha: “you will observe all of my laws and my jugdments so that you will live through them, I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:5).

This Parashot taken together, they cover five clearly defined topics. Acharei Mot deals with the rituals of the high priest on Yom Kippur; regulations governing the animals’ offering for sacrifice and animals for food. The subject of various sexual relations, especially incest is resumed at the end of Kedoshim.
The laws of prohibited sexual relations are tied to holiness, for they are preceded and followed by the admonition: “Make yourselves holy and be holy, for I am the Lord your God” (20:7) and “Be holy for me, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Holiness seems to involve both a moral and a ritual state: it is to be pursued, in some cases; and to be avoided—or at least, treated cautiously—in others.

The chapter doesn’t begin “Be moral, for I the Lord your God am moral” or “Be righteous, for I the Lord your God am righteous.” It begins “Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Indeed, everything that surrounds Chapter 19 is about holiness. Our double Parasha begins by instructing Aaron not to enter the most holy area of the Tabernacle whenever he chooses but only once a year, under particular conditions, subject to a penalty of death.