Parshat Archei Mot
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
Before Hashem you Shall Be Purified
On leap years we read parshat Aharei Mot, which begins with the laws of Yom Kippur, in conjunction with Pesah. Similarly, according to Ashkenazic custom the special white garment, the kittel, is worn yearly only on Seder night and Yom Kippur (aside from some also on Rosh Hashana). This connection between Pesah and Yom Kippur points to the special cleanliness and purity attached to these holy days. Even after Pesah, we can contemplate the laws of Pesah and attempt to internalize them in the methods of repentance, the major theme of Yom Kippur.
On a Biblical level, our Sages teach us that simply nullifying hametz in one’s heart, as if it is the dust of the earth, is sufficient, when done before noon of Erev Pesah. [In practice, we also do a verbal nullification of hametz twice on Erev Pesach.] Similarly in regard to repentance, Rambam and Shulhan Aruch in the laws of betrothal, rule that even if one wicked person betrothes a woman on stipulation that he is fully righteous person, the woman is betrothed in doubt, for perhaps he decided to repent in his heart. From these laws we see the high power of a person’s consciousness, and how meaningful human resolve is.
Nevertheless, our Sages knew that the power of evil inclination is many times stronger than human resolve, and they enacted and decreed numbers of laws that keep hametz far away from reach, not to mention, consumption. For example, we check our houses for hametz on the eve of the 14th of Nissan and burn the hametz we found the next morning. These laws teach us in regard to repentance, that although will and thought are crucial, we must not suffice with them. Rather, we must probe our daily conduct, the “corners and niches” of our regular behavior and search where there may be an alteration from our decision of self-improvement. After we have found the problematic issues we must “burn” them, i.e eliminate them entirely, from our lives, and not suffice just on our decision to change.
Other laws pertain to the koshering of utensils, pots, pans, etc. The general rule in these laws is “as the vessel received [the (hametz) taste] so it must be koshered.” Therefore, vessels that were used directly by fire must be koshered directly by fire – libun. Vessels that were used by hot water must be koshered also through hot water – hagala. Similarly, in regard to repentance if one put energy and “heat” into the negative behavior then in correcting this behavior also energy must be exerted in a similar opposite process.
These are just examples, and there are many more valuable lessons of self-improvement that can be learned from the laws of Pesah. Hebron teaches us to find the connection – “hibur” – between things that, from the outset may seem distant. Hebron also teaches us to follow in the righteous ways of our Patriarchs and connect to these righteous, which is also an important part of repentance. This type of repentance can be hinted to in the authorization of the rabbi, the spiritual leader of the community, to sell our hametz.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #313
The entrance to Bet Shneerson: We felt that there was no other option but to take action and seize the building. Since the army was guarding the building we decided to cause them to be distracted by something else and meanwhile enter Bet Shneerson from Bet Hadassah. We told the truck driver who empties the dumpster in the neighborhood that that morning he will be “stuck” with the dumpster for half an hour. When this happened a huge traffic jam was formed and the soldiers were involved with this this traffic jam. Meanwhile families moved from Bet Hadassah to the adjacent Bet Shneerson. The entrance was known only in the afternoon. The army closed the location and did not allow any accesss whatsoever. Afterwards, they allowed food to enter the building. After three days an agreement was made to evacuate the building in order to reenter later. The building was renovated and settled, and is occupied till this day.
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