Torah Commentary

Torah Commentary

What Comes After?

The portion begins with the two words: Acharei mot. With gerotranscendence in mind, we realize: the most important word is not mot (death), but the word acharei (after). We all encounter death. We all grieve. We mourn. The important question is: what do we do after the death of those around us? How do we live our lives? Our Torah teaches that there is something quite literally, acharei mot, after death.

Making a Way Out of No Way

And in Acharei Mot, we read: “The Eternal One spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they drew too close to the presence of the Eternal. The Eternal One said to Moses, ‘Tell your brother Aaron…’” (Lev. 16:1-2)

You Are What You Wear

He shall be dressed in a sacral linen tunic, with linen breeches next to his flesh, and be girt with a linen sash, and he shall wear a linen turban. They are sacral vestments; he shall bathe his body in water and then put them on. (Leviticus 16:4)

A few years ago, I was in Jerusalem in a Chasidic neighborhood, surrounded by stores carrying tallitot, kippot, and all sorts of Judaica. To my utter shock, prominently displayed in one store's window was a bright pink tallis! I went inside and started talking to the owner, a Chasid in full regalia: black coat, knickers, side curls, and fur-trimmed shtreimel hat. "Who would buy a pink tallit?" I asked. "A bat mitzvah girl of course," this Chasid said, with no hesitation. ". . . no, not the girls in my community," he added, "but in yours, sure, why not?"