THE TORAH READING FOR 8 IYAR 5783 APRIL 28-29, 2023
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/acharei-mot-kdoshim
Acharei Mot – K’doshim (אַחֲרֵי מוֹת – קְדֹשִׁים After the Death [of the Two Sons of Aaron] / [You Shall Be] Holy) – Leviticus 16:1-20:27
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. – Leviticus 16:1 The Eternal One spoke to Moses saying: “Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the Eternal your God, am holy.” – Leviticus 19:1-2
- The duties that the head kohein must perform on Yom Kippur are delineated and the ceremony of the scapegoat is outlined. (16:1-28)
- Moses instructs Aaron about the Yom Kippur laws for fasting and atonement. (16:29-34)
- Warnings are issued against the offering of sacrifices outside the Sanctuary and the consumption of blood. (17:1-16)
- Moses condemns the sexual practices of some neighboring peoples. Certain forms of sexual relations are prohibited. (18:1-30)
- God issues a variety of commandments, instructing the Israelites on how to be a holy people. (19:1-37)
- Various sex offenses are discussed and punishments for them are presented. (20:1-27)
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acharei_Mot#Parashah_Acharei_Mot-Kedoshim
When parashah Acharei Mot is combined with parashah Kedoshim … the haftarah is the haftarah for parashah Kedoshim:
- for Ashkenazi Jews: Amos 9:7–15
- for Sephardi Jews: Ezekiel 20:2–20
Amos (Haftarah) [The Haftarah Commentary, p.292]:
Connection of haftarah and sidra:
Opinions are divided over the reasons for the selection of this haftarah. According to one view, the sidra deals prominently and memorably with the ethical prerequisites of the kingdom of priests that Israel was meant to be, while the haftarah shows how widely, at the time of Amos, Israel diverged from its destined path. Another opinion finds the reason for the selection at the end of the sidra, which contains the warning that a sinful nation will be plucked from its land. Amos speaks in like tones, though in the end he holds out the vision of a brighter future.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/acharei-mot-kdoshim
By: Rabbi Dvora E. Weisberg
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Leviticus that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) from Amos 9:7-15. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Leviticus.16.1-20.27, and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/Amos.9.7-15
NB: In her Erev Shabbat, 4/22/22, D’var Torah on Acharëi Mot Rabbi Andrea Berlin, Sabbatical Substitute for Senior Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin, argued that the verse dealing with male same-sex relations is actually an extension of the incest prohibitions contained in the proceeding verses and NOT a prohibition on same-sex relations per se. Referring to and using the Rabbinic “sevara” and “pilpul” analytical methods of interpreting Torah, she made a strong case for this particular reading of Leviticus 18:22. Rabbi Berlin’s D’var Torah is accessible by clicking on the Shabbat Services tab on the Temple Sinai website: https://www.oaklandsinai.org/
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
אחרי מות Acharei Mot – Leviticus 16:1-18:30
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Gail Labovitz, pp. 694-5
Thus only shall Aaron enter the Shrine (16:3). According to Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 21.11, the three animals sacrificed on the Day of Atonement together evoke the merits of the patriarchs who will intercede on Israel’s behalf. Thus, the bull represents Abraham, who prepared a calf for his visitors (Genesis 18:7), while the ram stands for Isaac, in whose place a ram was sacrificed (22:13). The two goats recall Jacob, who deceived Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing with goat meat and skins (27:9–29). According to the Rabbis, the high priest also calls upon the merit of the matriarchs in 16:4, when he replaces the usual ornate vestments with four linen garments (tunic, breeches, sash, and turban), one for each Mother of Israel.
Aaron is…to make expiation for himself and for his household (16:6). According to rabbinic law, the high priest who officiates on the Day of Atonement must be married. The Hebrew word beito (“his household,” literally “his house”) is said to mean “his wife.” In Mishnah Yoma 1:1, Rabbi Yehudah suggests that a “back-up” wife must be prepared for the high priest–lest something happen to the first and the priest be disqualified. Other Rabbis respond, however, “If so, there would be no end to the matter!” JT Yoma 1:1 and BT Yoma 13a-b (also Midrash Sifra, Acharei Mot 8.6), consider the possibility that the high priest is forbidden to have more than one wife, noting that the verse demands that he atone for his “house,” in the singular.
For the life of all flesh–its blood is its life (17:14). Discussing this verse, the 13th-century commentator Nachmanides notes that the relationship between life (nefesh) and blood (dam) is referred to three times in this unit. According to 17:11, the life is “in” the blood (ki nefesh habasar b’dam hi) while the beginning of 17:14 teaches that the blood is “in” the life (ki nefesh kol basar damo b’nafsho hu). Using the analogy of wine mixed with water, Nachmanides suggests that one can equally say that the water is “in” the wine or the wine is “in” the water. Thus, the end of v. 14 states that the life “is” the blood (ki nefesh kol-basar damo hu). Ultimately, he claims, the two are inseparable; one cannot be found without the other.
None of you men shall come near anyone of his own flesh to uncover nakedness (18:6). Translated hyperliterally, this verse reads, “A man, a man (ish ish), to any of his near flesh, you (plural) shall not come near (lo tikr’vu).” Although one might think that these incest prohibitions are directed only at men, the Sifra (Acharei Mot 13.1) explains that the verse applies to everyone: the repetition of “man” (ish) is said to include non-Jews, while the second-person plural (tikr’vu) includes women.
Do not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter; nor shall you marry her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter (18:17). Mishnah Sanhedrin 9:1 makes clear that although the Torah in this passage does not explicitly mention incestuous relations with a daughter or step-daughter, it prohibits such relations as well, and deems them punishable by death. The Talmud points to this verse as the source for these prohibitions (JT Sanhedrin 9:1, BT Sanhedrin 76a). The Rabbis understood this verse to prohibit a man from sexual relations with a woman when he is married to her daughter or to her mother (based on the parallel verse in Leviticus 20:14, which forbids a man from marrying a mother and daughter). Thus, a man’s sexual connection with his own daughter by his wife or with his wife’s daughter by another man also means that he has violated this prohibition. As for incest between a man and his daughter by a woman to whom he was not married, the Rabbis derived the prohibition by logical inference: since this verse (and similarly in v. 10) forbids relations with a granddaughter, then all the more so it must forbid relations with a daughter.
Do not marry a woman as a rival to her sister (18:18). In his commentary on this verse, Nachmanides observes that sisters should not be rivals since they are meant to love each other. In their interpretations, Rashi and Sforno both note that following his wife’s death, a husband may marry her surviving sister. According to BT P’sachim 119b, at the end of days God will reward the righteous with a great banquet. The patriarch Jacob will decline the honor of leading the blessings after the meal, because his marriages to Leah and Rachel violated this prohibition.
קדשים K’doshim – Leviticus 19:1-20:27
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Ruth H. Sohn, pp. 716-8
You shall be holy (19:1). Commentators have been challenged by the interweaving of ritual and civil commandments in parashat K’doshim. Observing that both Leviticus 18 and 20 list prohibited sexual partners, Rashi suggests that 19:1 teaches that separating ourselves from forbidden sexual relations and transgressions is the path to holiness, “for every place (in the Torah) you find instruction to fence yourself in against such relations, you also find mention of holiness.” Nachmanides views this verse as commanding moderation in satisfying physical urges such as eating, drinking, and sexual relations.
Do not deal basely with members of your people (19:16). The Rabbis identify these words as the source for the prohibition against l’shon hara (evil speech or gossip). Even if what we are saying is true, if it is negative and the person is not present to defend herself, it is prohibited (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot 7.2). The Talmud teaches that l’shon hara kills three parties: the person speaking, the person listening, and the person against whom the comment is being made (BT Arachin 15b-16a).
Reprove your kin…incur no guilt on their account (19:17). The double verb in the command hochei-ach tochi-ach (whose plain sense is: “you shall [surely] reprove”) has inspired much commentary. According to BT Arachin 16b, the first part of this verse teaches that when someone has done something offensive, confrontation is essential. While many people might hesitate out of fear of stirring up conflict and resentment, Midrash B’reishit Rabbah 54.3 urges confrontation as a way to improve understanding and increase caring. BT Arachin 16b also suggests that the command to rebuke is doubled in order to teach us that when we do confront the offending individuals, if they do not correct their behavior we must go back and confront them again. But–the Talmud continues–we must not embarrass such persons, making sure that we “incur no guilt on their account.” Rashi advises that we avoid causing embarrassment by making sure not to confront others in public.
In BT Bava M’tzia 31a, Rava teaches that the Torah’s double verb in the command means that we must rebuke even an authority figure, such as a teacher, parent, or employer. Ibn Ezra comments that confrontation can clear up misunderstandings and obviate resentment or even hatred. BT Shabbat 54b insists that we speak out to prevent wrongdoing; failing to do so leaves us partly responsible for injustice, whether in our family, our community, or even the world at large. Our sources are divided on what to do about the person who will not listen. BT Shabbat 55a suggests that only God really knows how a person will respond, and so we are always obligated to confront the person who is doing something wrong.
Love your fellow [Israelite] as yourself (19:18). Rabbi Akiba said that this is the most important teaching in the Torah. For Ibn Ezra, this verse teaches us to treat others the way we want to be treated (so also Midrash Sifra, K’doshim 2.4). Other rabbis suggest we should express this love by being a good friend and neighbor, and by accepting the rebuke of others in a loving way.
If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman…they retain the bloodguilt (20:13). While Rashi and others understood this verse as specifically prohibiting anal intercourse, BT Sanhedrin 54a-b saw it (along with 18:22) as prohibiting male homosexual acts in general. While Rabbi Judah forbade two bachelors to sleep under the same blanket, a majority of the Rabbis of the Talmud permit it (BT Kiddushin 82a). Maimonides agreed, stating that “Jews are not suspected of engaging in homosexual relations” (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Forbidden Intercourse 22.2). This disagreement persists in later codes, with some, like the Shulchan Aruch, counseling against two men sleeping under the same blanket.
The Rabbis limited their reading of this verse to male homosexual acts, noting that the Torah nowhere explicitly prohibits sex between two women. However, in BT Y’vamot 76a, Rav Huna argued that women who engage in lesbian sex cannot marry priests. Rabbi Eliezer urged leniency, on the grounds that sex between women does not involve penetration and therefore is “mere indecency.” Sifra, Acharei Mot 9.8, prohibits marriage between women as something done by the Egyptians that, based on Leviticus 18.3, we must not imitate. Maimonides combined these two teachings in his Mishneh Torah (Laws of Forbidden Intercourse 21.8), noting that sexual relations between women are prohibited because they are among the “ways of the Egyptians,” but that such acts are not punished with stoning or even lashes, as there is no act of penetration and the women violate no explicit biblical prohibition. A woman who has engaged in lesbian sex would be permitted to marry or stay married, even to a priest. Still, Maimonides says that such a woman should be punished with lashes for breaking a rabbinic law, and he advises husbands not to allow their wives to spend time with women known as lesbians, to avoid their being tempted to engage in sexual relations with another woman.
SEFIRAT HA’ÓMER (Counting of the ‘Ómer) – April 6-May 25
We are in the 49-day period of Counting the ‘Ómer, which this year began Thursday evening, April 6 and continues until Shavuot (Festival of Weeks), which starts the evening of Thursday, 25 May and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 27 May 2023.
Today, Friday, day 23 begins this evening at sundown. Before the ‘Alëinu, after stating that one is ready to count the ‘Ómer, the following blessing is said:
Baruch atah Adonai Elohëinu Mélech ha’olam, asher kid’shánu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivánu ‘al S’firat Ha‘Ómer.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the ‘Ómer.
After the blessing, one recites the appropriate day of the count. If after the first six days, one also includes the number of weeks that one has counted. For example:
“Hayom sh’loshah ve‘esrim yom, shehëm sh’loshah shavua’ot ushenëi yamim la‘Ómer/ba‘Ómer.”
“Today is 23 days, which is three weeks and two days of/in the ‘Ómer.”
PIRKË AVOT – Ethics of the Fathers
From Pesach to Shavuot on each Shabbat some study a chapter a week from Pirkë Avot. Following are two selections from the fourth chapter for this Shabbat:
From Sefaria https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.4
15: Rabbi Yannai said: it is not in our hands [to explain the reason] either of the security of the wicked, or even of the afflictions of the righteous. Rabbi Mathia ben Harash said: Upon meeting people, be the first to extend greetings; And be a tail unto lions, and not a head unto foxes.
19: Shmuel Hakatan said: “If your enemy falls, do not exult; if he trips, let your heart not rejoice, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and avert his wrath from him” (Proverbs 24:17).
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, natural disasters, war and violence.
This coming week, 8 Iyar through 14 Iyar, we lovingly remember:
Grandson of Founding Member Harvey Ross, z”l
TKH Memorial Board, sister of Holly Sickles
Those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, April 28, 2023. We will discuss Haftarah Acharei Mot-Kedoshim Amos 9:7-15.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Acharei Mot-Kedoshim: Amos 9:7-15
Time: April 28, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: April 28, 2023 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos!
PS – About the Book of Amos (listed third of the Trei Assar):
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From My Jewish Learning
Timelines from Wikipedia