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Achrei Mot – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis

This week’s Torah portion, Acharei Mot, “After the death” [of two of Aaron’s sons], continues the focus on ritual purity that began earlier in Leviticus It begins the section of the book known as the Holiness Code.  It sets out not just the Yom Kippur services but sacrifices, food and our relationships, both to one another and to God.

But why does the Torah mention the deaths of Nadab and Abihu here in Acharei Mot, when the story of their deaths was told in its entirety in Parashat Sh’mini? Aaron and his sons, Eleazaer and Ithamar, are commanded not to mourn their brothers.

And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons, “Do not leave your heads unshorn, and do not rend your garments,

But they would have remembered them.

This week we commemorate Yom HaShoah and some of us will light yellow candles to remember those who were lost. My own candle commemorates Yute Shtain, a Romanian boy of 7, who died in Birkenau in 1944.

As we count the Omer and look forward to Shavuot. We will also be celebrating Yom Ha’Atzmaut next week.  Non-Jews sometimes ask

“Why do you Jews need a land? After all, Judaism is a religion, not a country or a nation.”

It is because in Israel, Judaism is not just the private, space of synagogue, school and home; Israel is our homeland. We do not want any more yellow candles.

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