Acharei Mot ויקרא אחרי מות
This week's parsha is Parashat Acharei-Mot. In this parsha, Hashem tells Moses to tell Aaron all about the Yom Kippur service in the Mishkan, and later in the Holy Temple in Yerushalayim. Aaron was told to only enter the Kodesh Hakodashim, or the Holy of Holies, once a year on Yom Kippur. This place was so holy that even Aaron, the Kohen Gadol, and all his descendants, only entered it once a year because of its holiness.
Also in this parasha Aaron needs to learn the steps of the Yom Kippur service. When Aaron enters the Kodesh Hakodashim he must wear plain linen robes. Among other things, he is to be pure of heart and then confess to Hashem his own sins, and the sins of his family and all of Israel.
Today we don’t have the Beit Hamikdash or a Kohen Gadol to do all of this. So instead, 40 days before Yom Kippur, at the beginning of the month of Elul, we begin improving ourselves by doing acts of teshuva, tefillah, and tzedakah. On Yom Kippur, we fast, go to Shul and pray to Hashem and tell him all the sins that we have committed.
The rabbis teach us that you don’t have to wait for Yom Kippur to improve. Instead, we can decide today to begin to live up to our potential. This is a lesson we take to our hearts every day here at Lehrman.
For example, in the middle of this year I wanted to try out for the Lehrman Lions basketball team. I didn't make it, and I got really disappointed. Then I realized that all the other girls have probably been working hard at basketball for a longer time than me. I wanted to get to their level so I asked my dad if he could practice with me and give me tips. I have been practicing really hard at home. Now, I have been playing intramural basketball and I have been really helping my team. I even shoot the ball and I have made some baskets. I know that I have improved and most importantly, I have demonstrated to myself and everyone around me what I can do. I intend to keep practicing and keep improving.
Just like on Yom Kippur when you think about all the stuff you want to throw away and start the new year with a fresh start, I work on improving myself everyday.
I know there are some things I need to work on, like not always listening to my parents, not always treating my sister with kindness, and not always trying my best in school. I know all of these things and more are things I can improve. I have been working very hard to improve myself. For example, recently I have learned how to fight less with my sister by just walking away instead of arguing. This is also a way of respecting my parents, because it brings shalom bayit, or peace to the home.
Everyday when I wake up I think about how I can try my best and be my best.
We learned from this parsha that with Hashem’s help we can keep improving every day of our lives!
Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!