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Making a Way Out of No Way

In the Book of Isaiah, we read: “I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19). 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). Our Torah portion opens in the wake of tragedy. Following the sudden death of Aaron’s children, we read of God’s commanded rites and rituals placed upon him in grief. 

D'var Torah By: 
The Power of Ritual to Transform Our World
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Adam Lutz

Who will live and who will die?

Who by fire and who by water?

Who by sword and who by beast?

Each year on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur we chant the haunting melody of Un’taneh Tokef. Our tradition compels us to confront the uncertainty of our future and the randomness of horrific tragedy in our world. Our parashah, Acharei Mot I,  reminds us of this unsettling truth right before God instructs Moses to inform Aaron about the ritual of Yom Kippur:

What Judaism Says About the Golden Rule

For the last few years, I have been a member of a local hospital’s ethics committee.

D'var Torah By: 
Working Toward a Shared Goal of Holiness
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Aimee Gerace

In these turbulent political times, it may sometimes feel easier to withdraw, to choose to not engage with our community members around difficult topics — particularly those community members who d

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?"

D'var Torah By: 
Setting Limits on Displays of Wealth, Even for the High Priest
Davar Acher By: 
Joshua M. Z. Stanton

Our tradition braves the middle ground between materialism and the denial of aesthetic power. To make worship solely about our attire undermines its power to elevate us beyond the physical realm. To ignore ritual garb overlooks a meaningful way, in the words of Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, to "take off the earthly street… when we arrive at the shul door, and feel closer to the angels."

Yom Kippur All Year Long

In the first part of this week's parashah, Acharei Mot/K'doshim, the Torah's fullest description of Yom Kippur appears.

D'var Torah By: 
Repentance and the Wilderness
Davar Acher By: 
Scott Hausman-Weiss

Rabbi Sherman offers us eternal lessons for the long-lasting effects that Yom Kippur can and should have on us throughout the year.

Nakedness and Vulnerability

In Leviticus 18:3, in Acharei Mot, it is written, "You shall not copy the practices of the land of Egypt where you dwelt, or of the land of Canaan to which I am taking y

D'var Torah By: 
Vulnerability and Accountability
Davar Acher By: 
Amy L. Memis-Foler

Rabbi Zoë Klein interprets a verse from Acharei Mot (Leviticus 18:6) teaching us not to uncover or reveal the vulnerabilities of the people who are closest to us.

A Rambling Rose

As the great flood story begins, we learn that Noah was "a righteous man; in his generation he was above reproach" (Genesis 6:9) and we wonder what kind of compliment has Noah just been paid.

D'var Torah By: 
Don't Make It Personal
Davar Acher By: 
Stephen Kahn

Every now and then, while I am driving around, I listen to AM talk radio to hear the latest fare from commentators from the "right" and the "left." Based on what I hear, it appears the sole p

Just Like Me, They Long(ed) to Be Close to You

In this week's double parashah, Acharei Mot/K'doshim, there's a one-sentence reference to the mortal sin of Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, who brought "alien fire" into the Mishkan

D'var Torah By: 
I'll Keep Working My Way Back to You (God) with a Burning Love Inside
Davar Acher By: 
Marci R. Bloch

In our "get-it-now" culture, we have come to expect everything we want in an instant. We are hooked on instant messaging, instant answers to our searches, even instant coffee.

Being Holy - and Staying Alive

Acharei Mot, the first of this week's two parashiyot, begins on an unsettling note—a reminder of the death of Aaron's sons and the suggestion that such tragedies might occur again unless the priests take specified steps to prevent them

D'var Torah By: 
A Self-Reflective God
Davar Acher By: 
Elizabeth W. Goldstein

Sometimes a dream dies. And the death of that dream becomes the focal point for how we choose to shape the future.

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