This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.
Parshat Acharei (5763)
This week's section, Acharei Mot, falls after the holiday of Shevie Shel Pesach – the Seventh day of Pesach; the day that the Jews went through the Reed Sea.
Both have something in common: death.
The very first sentence of our section mentions death twice; "After the death of Aaron's two sons when they entered before G-d (in the Holy of Holies) and died."
And the Splitting of the sea, besides killing the enemies of the Jews, also hinted at and contributed to the 'Raising of the Dead' (see Rashi on Exodus 15:1) It doesn't say "Then Moses and the Jews SANG but "they WILL sing"
What is death? Why did the sons of Aaron die? Why will there be the RAISING of the dead? What does it have to do with Judaism? What does it have to do with the Splitting of the Sea?
Here is a story that I just read in a monthly publication from the city of Baraket (mostly populated by Yemenite Jews) that might help explain.
Mrs. G. had been married for twenty years and had yet to be blessed with children.
After trying various treatments all the doctors had given up and she and her husband had almost given up as well. For twenty years she and her husband included a request for a child every time they prayed (religious Jews pray to G-d three times a day) but they were beginning to accept the fact that it was not their fate to have children. Until a friend of hers told her of the trip that they were taking to the Lubavitcher Rebbe in New York.
Mrs. G had heard a lot about this Rabbi from her Chabad friends but she had never really believed it. In Yemen where she was born she had been warned about Rabbis that claim to draw powers from the Zohar and other esoteric books. But on the other hand she had good friends and even some family in the city of Baraket that were very enthusiastic followers of the Rebbe.
She and her husband talked it over and decided to go. The trip would be a welcome diversion, and as far as the Rebbe goes they would decide when they arrived.
They arrived in New York got settled in the Hotel and when Sunday arrived they went with everyone else to receive dollars from the Rebbe. (Every Sunday he would pass out single dollar bills (to encourage the giving of charity) accompanied by a short blessing and often advice, to thousands of people.
The line was really long, one for men another for women and she had to wait over two hours but the people were in a good mood and the time passed quickly. As Mrs. G. approached the Rebbe she suddenly felt that perhaps this is where her hope lay after all. As the Rebbe handed her the dollar she looked at him and said "I've been married for twenty years with no children."
Suddenly twenty years of frustration welled up but before she could begin to cry the Rebbe interrupted
"Were you ever engaged to be married and broke off the engagement?"
The question caught her by surprise "Yes" she answered.
"And did you ask the forgiveness of the man?" "No" she answered.
"You must ask him to forgive you."
Her head was swimming but she realized the implications of what the Rebbe was saying. "Rebbe, that was over twenty years ago. How can I find him?"
The Rebbe looked at her, "Go to the train station in Rechovot on such-and-such a date at such-and-such a time. May you have success and blessing." The Rebbe turned to the next person in line.
When they returned to Israel a week later she remembered what the Rebbe had said and when the day came she made her way to the train station. After walking about for a few minutes she noticed a lone man sitting on a bench as though he was waiting for something. She approached him and asked if perhaps his name was M. and he replied to the affirmative.
"Do you remember me? We were engaged to be married over twenty years ago and I broke off the engagement. Do you remember?"
He again replied to the affirmative.
"I'm sorry for what happened. I'm asking you to please forgive me. Do you forgive me?"
"Yes, I forgive you completely" was the answer.
She returned home completely shaken by the strange occurrence. Three months later she was pregnant and nine months afterwards she gave birth to a baby boy! Eight days later at the Brit (circumcision) ceremony she stood and emotionally told the story to all those present.
Exactly how the Rebbe had diagnosed the problem and found the miraculous solution; how and where to find a man that she hadn't seen for twenty years and that the Rebbe had never seen.
The next day one of her older relatives came to visit her at her home. He entered, sat down in the front room and asked. "Tell me, I remember that fellow that you were engaged to twenty some years ago, his name was M… correct?
"Yes" she answered.
"Well, you should know that I knew M. well ….. and he died ten years ago"
That is what this week's section teaches us, that Ahron's two sons died because they went against G-d's will. In fact if the Jews hadn't sinned with the Golden Calf at Mount Sinai there would be no death in the world.
That is what happened at the splitting of the sea. Not only the water but ALL the 'water' all the spiritual levels also split to the point that even the simplest of cleaning ladies saw visions like the prophet Ezekiel!
In other words; death is a spiritual event; the soul goes to heaven or hell for spiritual reward or punishment. That is the basis of all the other religions.
But Judaism stresses the fact that death and spirituality are only temporary. The real essence of G-d's will is HERE in this PHYSICAL world. Here the Torah was given, here we can serve the Creator and here will be revealed the truth; that EVERY Jew (and those connected to them i.e. Bnei Noach) have eternal physical bodies ABOVE all spirituality. (That is possibly what brought Mr. M. in our story back… he had to forgive her so she could have physical children)
See the book Avodat HaKodesh by Rabbi Mair ben Gabbai (Part 2 chapt. 19) where he explains this in great length and adds that Moshiach will be such a person. Like Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and Elisha the Prophet … although we might not see it he has an eternal physical body. But he will reveal the eternal bodies of all the Jews i.e. the Raising of the Dead.
That is the message of Shvee Shel Pesach …. That we should all do all we can to attach ourselves to the eternal; to do another good deed to bring
Copyright © 1999-2017 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.