Parshiyot Aharei Mot-Kedoshim 5783

April 24, 2023

Rabbi Rob Scheinberg

“Hokheiah tokhiah et amitekha.” “You shall surely reprove your fellow.” (Leviticus 19:17) Giving critical feedback, or tokhehah (often translated as “reproof” or “rebuke”), is a positive mitzvah in the Torah. Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise us, as constructive critique and feedback is a primary way that we learn and grow. And yet, already in the time of the Talmud, two of the greatest sages of their generation indicated that almost everyone who attempts to fulfill this mitzvah is doing it wrong. In the Babylonian Talmud, Arakhin 16b, Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah differ about why the system of tokhehah seems to be broken. According to Rabbi Tarfon, “I would be surprised if there is anyone in this generation who can receive rebuke. If the one rebuking says ‘Remove the splinter from between your eyes,’ the other responds: ‘Remove the beam from between your eyes!’” In other words, the experience of receiving criticism, even when generously offered, tends to activate the hearer’s defensiveness, which in turn makes the...

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Parashiot Aharei Mot / Kedoshim 5781

April 23, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashiot Aharei Mot / Kedoshim By Rabbi Jill Hackell (’13) You shall rise before the aged and respect the elderly; you shall fear your God, I am the Lord.” [Leviticus 19:32] This verse is found in parashat Kedoshim, a parashah which begins with Moses transmitting these words of God to the community of Israel: “You shall be holy , for I, the Lord God, am holy.” [19:1-2] What does it mean to be holy? What does God ask of us? Let’s look at our verse as an example. At one time, Israeli buses displayed the first part of this verse – mip’nei siva takum – literally, ‘Rise before the gray-hairs’, on signs, to remind younger riders that society expects them to give up their seats to their elders. What a wonderful way to create a society which teaches the...

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Parashat Aharei Mot Kedoshim

May 1, 2020

A D’var Torah for Parashat Aharei Mot Kedoshim By Cantor Sandy Horowitz (’14) Parashat Kedoshim consists of a series of commandments which God wants Moses to convey to the Israelite people. As is God’s wont, God has a lot to say as the verses in this parashah jump from one topic to another– keep My sabbaths; when you reap your harvest, leave the corners of your field for the poor and stranger; do not curse the deaf; do not cross-breed your cattle; and so on. These are a few of the laws which appear just in the first two aliyot of the Torah reading. Imagine how the Israelites might have listened to this series of commandments while trying to remember it all; it must have felt overwhelming, and perhaps a bit confusing. What harvest? What stranger? Then we arrive at the beginning of the third aliyah: “When you come into the...

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Aharei Mot/Kedoshim 5778

April 26, 2018

Torah, sexuality and #MeToo A D’var Toroh for Aharei Mot/Kedoshim by Rabbi Irwin Huberman ’10 Within Judaism, there exists a debate regarding the reading of some explicit sexual material on the afternoon of Yom Kippur. Orthodox Judaism encourages us to read from the Torah what are commonly referred to as the arayot – forbidden sexual relationships. Conservative Judaism offers an alternative — suggesting a second reading dealing with interpersonal relationships, business practices, ritual behavior and criminal law. Reform Judaism often bypasses sexuality, choosing Biblical texts that highlight reconciliation, ethical behavior and social justice. Indeed, the discussion of forbidden sexual practices on the holy and reflective day of Yom Kippur is a challenging one. Yet, is it possible that the same Torah reading, which so many rabbis and congregations have struggled with in recent years, demands a rereading in light of so many sexual abuses and allegations that have come to light this...

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Parashat Aharei Mot-Kedoshim

May 3, 2017

by Cantor Sandy Horowitz Parashat Aharei Mot-Kedoshim: A Look Back Max: Aaron has asked us to divide into groups and share our reflections about what we heard from Moses today.  So many laws!  I lost track after fifty. Hannah: “You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by….”* Max: What? Hannah: I heard that in a dream once. Shira: How long will this take? Miriam’s doing folk-dancing tonight and I promised her I’d bring my timbrel… Shmuel: What’s with all those Ani Adonai (“I am Adonai”)s? He kept repeating it. Max: Perhaps it helps us remember a Higher Purpose whenever we consider these laws. Shmuel: Or maybe he’s still mad about the golden calf… Max:  I was struck by hearing the laws regarding land: we’re commanded to leave the corners of our fields for the poor and hungry, fruit-trees grow unpicked for three years...

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