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Acharei Mot ויקרא אחרי מות

April 28, 2023
By Simone Stern and Lily Lampert,

Our first parasha Acharei Mot, begins by mentioning the deaths
of Nadav and Avihu - the 2 Sons of Aharon. They were Kohanim

who tragically passed away. The Midrash say that while they
were walking behind Moshe and Aharon, Nadav said to Avihu,
“When will these two old people die and you and I take over
the leadership?”

We learn from this Midrash how important it is to respect your
parents and grandparents. Just like how we are honoring them
today at Lehrman’s grandparent and special friends’ day!  
The parasha then discusses the importance of the Kohen
HaGadol – the High Priest of Israel -- and the important rituals
that he performed on the holiest day of the year, the day that
Israel is forgiven for its sins, the day we know today as Yom

These days, we spend most of Yom Kippur at the synagogue
praying for our forgiveness, but thousands of years ago, when
both the Mishkan and later the Beit Hamikdash still stood, the
Jewish People would rely on the very exciting spiritual work of
the Kohen Hagadol to represent them. The fate of the nation

depended on him serving Hashem through the many rituals he performed at the holiest of holy spots, called the KODESH HAKODASHIM.

We learn that no one but the Kohen Hagadol could ever enter the Kodesh Hakodashim because the “Shechina” – The divine presence of God was there.

God teaches all B’nei Yisrael saying, “You should be holy because I am holy”. God teaches that being holy is about doing things like honoring parents, not worshiping idols, observing Shabbat, leaving the corners of your field for those who are hungry, not stealing, not taking advantage of handicaps, judging cases fairly, not hating people, and – ואהבת לרעך כמוך- loving your neighbor as yourself.

Rabbi Akiva teaches us that loving your neighbor as you love
yourself is the most important lesson in the Torah. We think that being Jewish means being in a big caring family where each individual loves the other like themself. Where one Jew faces rough times, others should hold his hands. Where one meets good fortune all of us should celebrate. A Jewish community is somewhere where no one is labeled or alienated. Where we live in kindness with one another and shy away from any mean or hurtful behavior!

Once I saw a kid getting bullied at my camp. She was new to the camp and I wanted her to have a good first year. I noticed that she didn't have a lot of friends and when I was going to archery, I saw her getting bullied at soccer and older kids telling her that she wasn't good at it. I walked up to them and told the older kids to stop. I told them to walk away and to stop bullying. They said sorry to the girl and walked away. I then told her that I'm so sorry that happened and gave her a hug. I feel really good about doing this.  

Parshat Kedoshim is all about performing a mitzvah. My example of a mitzvah I love to do is to celebrate the traditions of holidays! For example, on Hanukkah I help set up the table with latkes, dreidels, jelly donuts and chocolate gelt! I spin the dreidel, light the Menorah, and then put it by the window before I open the presents! Another chag I love is Pesach. I help with the Seder plates, set them up with eggs, chicken bone, charoset, parsley, and maror. My Mom then helps lead the Seder and then me, my sister and my cousins answer the questions. I love celebrating the Jewish holidays and keeping all the mitzvot.

This parashiot talks about how we as Jews should “Keep Hashem's Laws and Live in them.” This means that we should not wait until we are older to study Torah and perform mitzvot. Instead, we should actually live a life of Torah and perform the mitzvot right now when we are young and full of life! These two parashiot also teach us to be kind, happy, and respectful to family and friends!

If we follow the lessons of the Torah then we can continue to
make the world an even better place.

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!

Written by Simone Stern and Lily Lampert (Grade 5)