In the Torah portion of “Acharei “ we read the following regarding Yom Kippur: “For on this day it shall atone for you to cleanse you. Before the Lord, you shall be cleansed from all your sins”( Vayikra/ Leviticus 16:30).
Our sages based on these words have explored the redemptive power of the actual day of Yom Kippur.In the words of the Rambam “ On yom kippur , it is the day itself that atones ..as it is written “For on this day it shall atone for you”( Mishneh Torah ,laws of repentance 1:3)
The Jewish people are returning out of a long and painful exile. The healing that needed to occur has been long and arduous. It is a process that will undergo many phases and changes, just as Ezekiel prophesied regarding the return of “the dry bones “( Ezekiel 37).These challenges and changes of our people are mirrored in the lives and journeys of each individual Jew as well. Perhaps an exploration of the rituals and challenges facing an individual in the process of return will give us direction in understanding the challenges facing our people.
We are living in a world that seems to be moving towards upheaval and confusion. We see signs of that upheaval all around us. How are we to understand those signs. How wary must we be of reading too much into those signs? In the parsha we see that there was a time when G-d openly used signs and wonders to help us re-navigate back towards Him and His purpose. The malady of Tzaraat was such a sign.
“Aaron lifted up his hands” …..The strength of a Jewish Army
We are entering into another period of unease around our borders. The Hamas is sending missiles into Beersheba and Ashdod. The Hezbollah is busy arming themselves and the Fatah are cozying up with their more militant allies in the Gaza strip .Murderers are being sent by Palestinian leadership into the houses of innocent civilians .Terror has returned to the streets of Jerusalem. It is a time of concern and edgy readiness..
As we enter the week of Purim we are very aware that it is a time of “NaFochHu” , a time of dramatic overturn.” as the days when the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month that was reversed for them from grief to joy and from mourning to a festive day-“( Esther 9:22) . Yet such a time also bespeaks of a difficult and painful time that precedes the reversal into days of joy and gladness. Such is the situation during this Purim which will fall just as the mourners for the Fogel family “stand up” to re-enter life. A life that is a mixture of spiritual fire together with the cold ashes of what was.
The book of VaYikra begins with a mystery. The verse reads “And He called to Moses, and HaShem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying, (Leviticus 1:1). The word VaYikra (and He called) ends with the letter “Aleph “that is shrunken in size.
Our sages explain that small “Aleph” with a Midrash that points to Moshe’s trait of humility.
The Ananei haKavod, the clouds of glory, conveyed a message. Their arrival and their departure clearly imparted a lesson and deep instruction. We read the following after the beginning of the building of the Mishkan:
And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of HaShem filled the Mishkan. . Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud rested upon it and the glory of HaShem filled the Mishkan. ( Exodus 40 :34-35 )
Why did that cloud fill the tent specifically at this time? What did it signify? What was it about this Anan of HaShem’ , Glory that caused Moshe to stand outside of the tent of Meeting.