The Zionist Kollels: Acharei Mot and Kedoshim

Acharei Mot: by Rabbi Aharon Greenberg, Canadian Director of the Seif Orthodox Union Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus . Kedoshim: Dovi Holtz Former shaliach in Memphis and London, Ram at the Yeshiva High School in Natzrat Illit.

Torah Mitzion Torani Tzioni Movement

Judaism Torah Mitzion
Torah Mitzion

Editor's note: This year the eighth day of Passover, kept only in the Diaspora, fell on the Sabbath, so while Jews in Israel read Parshat Acharei Mot, the Sabbath Torah portion, Jews in the Diaspora were still celebrating  Passover and read the Passover holiday reading. The result is that Jews outside Israel are reading Acharei Mot this week, but Jews in Israel are up to the next portion, Parashat Kedoshim. The Jewish people will be literally "on the same page" again once a double parsha reading in the Diaspora balanced by the reading of one parasha in Israel on the same Sabbath lets the Diaspora communities catch up. Until then, Arutz Sheva will bring Divrei Torah on both Torah portions.

Acharei Mot - A Matter of Perspective

In this week’s parsha of Acharei Mot, as part of the sacrificial process of Yom Kippur, the Jews (Bnei Yisrael) are commanded to take two goats. According to our sages there is a requirement that these goats need to be identical in their appearance, color, size and even cost (See the first Mishana in the 6th chapter of Yoma).
Upon their selection, the Kohen Gadol is called upon to draw lots. One goat then remains in the Temple, and after a brief procedure it is slaughtered and offered La’Hashem, to G-d, on the altar. Furthermore, its blood is sprinkled in the required locations as part of a complex ritual process. Meanwhile, the other goat is then prepared to be sent out to the desert – Azazel, to meet its fate.
I would like to take a look at this process from the goats’ perspectives. Imagine what the goat who has been “chosen” to be sent out to the desert is thinking. The Mishna and Talmud (once again in the 6th Chapter of Yuma) describe how this goat which was being sent out to the desert to meet its demise was accompanied by many people, traveling on its way from station to station.

People who were selected for this task lead it out through the Temple, through the city and out into the open desert. Throngs of people gathered to witness and accompany this goat. The goat was probably thinking that he won the lottery! After all, he has the entourage, he has the fanfare and all of the people hustling around him. Yet, we know the fate he is about to encounter. We know he is moments away from being cast down a steep mountain.
Perhaps a message in life, a message from Yom Kippur, is one of perspective. Sometimes we think we want that fanfare, the excitement to surround us in our daily lives. We want the spotlight. We want to be the person people take notice of. Often, we need to take a step back and evaluate a situation to see if this is truly the proper path and when making a decision, ensure that it is truly best, not what is perceived as “best” for me and those that surround me in my life. A direction where I dedicate my life to G-d, His people and nation. Often (although not always) there is less fanfare and glory in making the right decision yet it is often the one truly dedicated to the service and devotion to Hashem that achieves the proper and necessary outcome.  
(I do not recall where I heard this idea from but it left an impression on me and I would like to share it with all of the readers of this wonderful publication. If someone can please point out the source of this idea, I would be most appreciative.)

Kedoshim - Meeting Hashem with Every Step

A few years ago, before going on Shlichut in a Kollel in London, I managed to convince Rav Binyamin Tabori, my soon to be Rosh Kollel, to teach us Masechet Zevachim throughout the next year. Having never before learned these Tractates in Seder Kodashim, this was a fascinating experience I have since had the privilege to expand upon on various occasions.

This is why when studying Parashat Kedoshim I'd expect to be more at home with the concepts appearing there. It would only make sense that Parashat Kedoshim and Seder Kodashim would discuss similar topics. Seder Kodashim discusses sacrifices and Beit Hamikdash and therefore so should the Parashah.

So when the Torah tells us to be Kedoshim and then instead of discussing sacrifices starts talking about fearing ones parents, keeping Shabbat, not lying, not cheating and many other day to day issues, while only sprinkling a few bits of issues that have to do with offerings like Pigul and Notar but definitely not focusing on them, this comes as a bit of a surprise. What is more interesting is that Kedushah throughout the Torah does not seem to be a concept constricted to heavenly things. On the contrary, we often find the term used in the Torah when discussing earthly issues and even sometimes the improper use of same said earthly things.

For example we have Kedushah in money - Shekel HakodeshKedushah in places – Mekom HakodeshKedushah in clothes, Bigdei Hakodesh albeit these are restricted to the work of the Kohanim, but we also find a Kadesh and Kdeshah who improperly use their bodies for reasons other than those which Hashem has given them or Kedushah in Kilayim where one who plants wheat or barley and the likes next to a vineyard must burn all the produce.

What all these examples have in common is the fact that they are Kadosh and are all connected to the physical world. All though our initial inclination might be to disconnect Kedushah from physicality and associate it solely with spirituality, this doesn't seem to be the case.

Even Seder Kodashim which we started with, discusses sacrificing physical elements - livestock, wheat, wine etc. – and using them to connect to Hashem. Among the nations it might be thought that to reach Kedushah one must disconnect oneself from the pleasures of the flesh but when entering the Bet Hamikdash the Kohanim are found dealing with blood and meat even to the extent where the Talmud tells us that the way for a sin to be atoned for must be through the Kohanim eating the meat of the sacrifice.

In many other religions in order to be holy one must not marry. In the Jewish nation one cannot attain Kedushah without being married. The Kohen Gadol cannot work in Beit Hamikdash if he doesn't have a wife.

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, in his book, Mesilat Yesharim, which discusses the stages one must pass in order to connect with Hashem, describes the highest level a person can reach on his own. Kedushah. Before reaching this level one might look at the physical world as an unfortunate necessity. After reaching this level the physical world becomes a catalyst for fulfilling Hashem's will. One could eat and drink as a way to connect with Hashem.

This is by no means an easy task. Most people don't attain it. The truth is most people don't even get so far as to reach the chapter discussing it while learning the book. In order to reach this level one must first be willing to go through all the other stages which limit ones enjoyment of the physical aspects of this world in order to then meet them on the other side, not as enjoyment for the sake of my body but rather enjoy them as a way to connect with Hashem.

The term Kodesh Kodashim when describing sacrifices is used by the Torah (though not in the Talmud) only while eating them. What I find more interesting is that the term is not used to describe two Korbanot. The Olah (totally burnt offering) and the Shelamim (an offering usually brought when someone wanted to eat but still bring a sacrifice) are both not called Kodesh Kodashim. I believe one of the things this may be trying to tell us is that ideally, high Kedushah is not attained by eating for the sake of eating, even if it's a Korban (Shelamim) nor by completely alienating ourselves from the eating of our Korban (Olah). It is attained by eating for the sake of atoning for our sins. The Kohanim eat and the owner is atoned for.

Returning to Parashat Kedoshim, there is more than one way to live a Jewish life style. One can look at the Mitzvot as a way to increase his piety or as a type of manual to make sure he doesn't destroy the machine Hashem has created for him in this world. Or we could attempt to be Kedoshim and use these same commandments and everything else we encounter as a means to bring the world closer to Hashem.