Friday, April 19
- 07:10 pm – Mincha
- 07:12 pm – Candle lighting
Saturday, April 20
- 08:45 am – Shacharit
- 09:19 am – Latest time for Kriat Shema
- 10:30 am – Jr. Congregation
- 10:30 am – Toddler Group
- 11:15 am – Kiddush
- TBA – B’nos
- 04:15 pm – Ladies’ Class: Laws of Muktzeh
- 06:00 pm – Men’s Class: Nefesh HaChaim
- 06:50 pm – Mincha and Se’udah Shlishit
- 08:10 pm – Ma’ariv
- 08:22 pm – Shabbat Ends
April 21 – 26
- 08:00 am – Sunday
- 06:40 am – Monday and Thursday
- 06:50 am – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
- 07:20 pm – Sunday – Friday
- 07:50 pm – Sunday – Thursday
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Weekly Words of Torah
A Matter of Focus
Insights into Parshat Acharei Mot/Kedoshim of Mr. Noah Portman of Yeshivat Sha’alvim, by Rav Re’uven Ungar of Sha’alvim.
This week’s double portion, Acharei Mot and Kedoshim, covers issues regarding the Yom Kippur service and also discusses individual purity by mentioning the forbidden relationships and practices. Parshat Acharei Mot opens with the death of Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu. Then Hashem tells Moshe to speak to Aharon about the Yom Kippur service. What is the relationship between the death of Nadav and Avihu and the Yom Kippur service, and why are the deaths brought up now? Although Yom Kippur is inherently holy, Aharon is commanded not to simply walk into the Kadosh HaKedoshim (Holy of Holies) on his own but must await instructions on when to enter. Seemingly, this commandment comes only after Aharon’s sons disobeyed the kedushah of the Kodesh HaKedoshim and brought a strange fire as an offering. Perhaps the connection between Aharon’s sons and the Yom Kippur service can be compared; one being the proper conduct and one being the improper conduct on entering the Kodesh HaKedoshim.
To develop this idea further, look at the Yom Kippur service; the sin-offering that Aharon is commanded to bring for himself and his household is a young bull but the sin-offering for the Nation of Israel he is told to use a lottery to choose between two identical he-goats. One is designated as the sin-offering “for Hashem” and the other as the one “for Azazel.” Moshe returned from Har Sinai on the 10th of Tishrei after having gained forgiveness for the people’s sin of the golden calf. From this we learn that this day has a special capacity for atonement and therefore is ordained as Yom Kippur, the eternal day of forgiveness. Consequently, it is clear why out of all days to give the atonement to Bnei Yisrael it is done on the tenth of Tishrei. Similarly, Aharon’s sin-offering of the young bull is a clear representation of how B’nei Yisrael sinned by the golden calf.
What does the he-goat “to Azazel” represent? Rav Hirsch explains that the two identical goats symbolize that every Jew must decide between good and evil. Furthermore, at times it seems as natural and as simple as a lottery to choose to dwell on the bad moments in our life. We tend to focus our energies and attention on tragedy, pain, and sin that exist all around us, and as a result we fail to see the bigger picture. However, we must be optimistic and turn away from this side and see the moral and good in our lives. We must remember that brought with every offering “to Azazel” in the Wilderness is an identical sin-offering “to Hashem” in the Holy Temple.
Turning from the bad and focusing on the good in order to be mekadesh (make holy) is something that is very practical to all of us. Each Jewish neshama can be described as a smaller model of the Holy Temple. Perhaps this is why each of the forbidden relationships and practices are coupled with the phrase “For I am your G-d,” because we realize that we come from such a holy relationship, and we should strive to strengthen that bond rather than on our own physical desires. Throughout the year we live as if we are living from Yom Kippur to Yom Kippur. We often tally up our sins and prepare to repent. However, many of us do not make the serious effort to chase mitzvot and perform acts of kindness in our spare time. Teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah exist all year round! We must recognize that we should not remain in the bad of our past but rather focus on the good in our future. So Aharon’s sons died because they abused their authority and the holiness of the Temple. Bnei Yisrael were punished by the sin of the golden calf. However, we also see that both of these are corrected through the proper sacrificial offering in the Temple. Everything in life will have a contrasting effect considered “bad,” as we learned from the sacrifice of the he-goat “to Azazel.” However, it is in our power to decide how to make appropriate use of what we have in front of us, and to be mekadesh “to Hashem.” The parshiot this week are in the order Acharei Mot, Kedoshim, to teach us that after death and suffering, holiness and sanctification are there to lift us right back up. Ultimately the decision lies with each one of us. We can choose to focus on the lives lost and at the same time lose our perspective on life completely, or we can choose to praise Hashem for the lives He saved and continues to save.