Acharei Mot "After the death"

Shabbat Ha Gadol “The Great Sabbath”

Leviticus 16:1-18:30

MalachI 3:4-24

Hebrews 9:11-28

This week’s Torah portion begins with the statement, "After the death of Nadav and Avihu," then goes on to tell us that on the most holy day of the year, on Yom Kippur, only the High Priest may enter into the Holy innermost chamber. The Parasha continues by giving us details of the rituals of the casting of lots for the two goats. Also included is what the High Priest is to wear and the sin offering for himself as well as for the people.

Then we are told about not bringing in forbidden sacrifices, and not eating or drinking blood. Further we are told not to have deviant sexual relations.

On Yom Kippur the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) had to be ready to change his clothes often, depending what part of the Yom Kippur service he was performing. The High Priest's clothing consisted of two sets of vestments. One was called Begadie Zahav (golden vestments), the other was Begadie Lavan (white vestments), which were worn only on Yom Kippur. It is from this that the custom of wearing the Kittel began in the days after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE (common era), or as many would know as 70 AD. The Kittel is white and is a symbol of purity.

Thus on Yom Kippur the High Priest changed his vestments five times, as well as immersing himself in the Mikveh every time he changed. He washed his hands and feet ten times in the course of the day. He certainly was clean that day! Besides all the ritual, change of clothes and water immersions, the High Priest had to be prepared spiritually and physically before the day of Yom Kippur.

Rabbinic tradition stemming from the end of the second temple period informs us that the High Priest was separated from his wife and isolated for seven days before Yom Kippur. On the eve of the holy day it was deemed necessary to keep him awake the whole night lest he become ritually impure. Various things were done to keep him awake, including reading from Holy Scripture scrolls, snapping fingers (making noise), walk on cold floors, so forth. In other words, he was not to sleep but be awake and be prepared for his holy work.

In Matthew 26 starting in verse 36 we read the account in the Garden of Gethsemane, where our Messiah went to pray taking with him Simon (Peter), the two sons of Zebedee. Matthew tells us that he was in sorrow to the point of death. Yeshua told his talmidim (disciples) to remain and stay awake. But as we read they kept falling asleep, so he rebuked them stating that they need to be awake and be prepared, for the time is near. He said, "Stay awake for the time is at hand for me to be betrayed!"

In the book of Hebrews chapter 2:1 there is a warning about being negligent, about being awake, ready to pay attention, "We must therefore pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away."

Let us remain awake, not drift away, and see the redemption He has given us. Be vigilant in prayers to be ready to serve Him and do His work.

Shavua Tov

Rabbi Z

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