Torah Weekly

For the week ending 27 April 2019 / 22 Nisan 5779

Parshat Acharei Mot

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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G-d instructs the kohanim to exercise extreme care when they enter the Mishkan. On Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol is to approach the holiest part of the Mishkan after special preparations and wearing special clothing. He brings offerings unique to Yom Kippur, including two identical goats that are designated by lottery. One is "for G-d" and is offered in the Temple, while the other is "for Azazel" in the desert. The Torah states the individual's obligations on Yom Kippur: On the 10th day of the seventh month, one must afflict oneself. We abstain from eating and drinking, anointing, wearing leather footwear, washing, and marital relations.

Consumption of blood is prohibited. The blood of slaughtered birds and undomesticated beasts must be covered. The people are warned against engaging in the wicked practices that were common in Egypt. Incest is defined and prohibited. Marital relations are forbidden during a woman's monthly cycle. Homosexuality, bestiality and child sacrifice are prohibited.


Google Shadchan

“…after the death” (16:1)

Gone are the days when checking a shidduch (marriage match) was carried out through discreet personal enquiries: a call to the in-laws, to the neighbors, school friends, rebbes or teachers. Nowadays, due diligence demands another line of enquiry — Google. One of my in-laws told me that before he allowed a shidduch to proceed, he googled me and found a shiur (lecture) that I had given on a certain platform. Apparently he didn’t dislike the shiur sufficiently to cancel the shidduch.

It is said that in 1927 when the Chafetz Chaim was told of the existence of a transatlantic telephone service, he exclaimed that he now understood how a person would speak and it could be heard on the other side of the world. This world is full of physical counterparts to spiritual realities: This world is a mashal (parable) for us, and the Torah is the nimshal (moral).

I wonder what the Chafetz Chaim would have made of Google, apart from its obvious dangers and abuses. Perhaps he would have seen, “Know what is above you: an Eye that Sees, an Ear that Hears, and all your actions are written in a book.” (Avot 2:1)

“G-d spoke to Moshe after the death of Aharon’s two sons when they approached before G-d and they died.”

Why did the Torah connect the death of Nadav and Avihu with the commandment restricting Aharon’s entry into the Holy of Holies? Rashi says that Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria compares this to sick person being cautioned not to eat cold food or sleep in a damp place. One doctor merely gives a caution, whereas a second doctor adds to the instructions, “so that you don’t die like so-and-so.” Clearly the second doctor’s warning is stronger than the first.

This world is full of signs if we only have the eyes and ears to recognize them.

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