Achare mot

Special Selection preceding Rosh Hodesh: Ezekiel 22:1-19

Just before the feast of Pesach the Parasha, the text of the week in Torah, teaches about Yom Kippur. The text starts with mentioning the death of two of the sons of Aharon, namely Nadav and Avihu. And so Yom Kippur but also Pesach are connected with death: death of the disobedient and careless. There might be a wake up call in that situations: stay alert and stay close to the Lord of Israel who is your Maker and Comforter. it is G-d who will judge those who are guilty. Pesach is a time of intense cleaning, outside – our homes and cars – and inside – our hearts and thoughts. We will have to die to our old nature, also symbolized by discontinuing the usage of chametz which is a sign of our old character and habits. Chametz is what we use in every bread we make as if it is sin we relay through our generations. So either we stop radically performing the old trusted manners, or we die like Nadav and Avihu who used strange fire.

A bit like the two birds when somebody who suffers from tzara’at (named as leprosy but different) two goats are used to make atonement. One of them stays alive, the other one goes literally to Azazel. It pictures again the choice we all have. It sounds so old fashioned to talk about hell and heaven and absolute truths these days. But see it this way: people who do not believe in  G-d seem to believe in other things and almost everything. So it looks like people are bound to trust and believe in whatever they see as reality and trustworthy. In the meantime the real world goes on, no matter what somebody has chosen as his or her faith. Let me present the faith in the G-d of Israel to you as ultimate reality. Make your choice, this Pesach.

You shall be holy is what Israel received as commandment from the Lord. Holiness is a virtue which we consciously have to choose to be. It does not just come by osmosis from Moses. Many character items can be grouped under holiness and Parashat Kedoshim mentions quite some. The list starts with honoring our parents, which starts with obedience, continues with appreciating their opinion and ends with not stealing their money and possessions when we wait for their death. Honoring Shabbat is second and staying away from idols is another important one of them (verses 3 and 4). One important idol is our own importance which we think we have, linked with the high value we give to our opinion and our judgment in comparison to other’s. It is curious to see that the church chose to do away with these ingredients of holiness, while using the same Bible as we do. Their parents are the Jewish people who produced the roots of the faith of the church. Shabbat was forbidden soon and disappeared after the 4th century completely. Idols have entered the church and they are still there, by way of man-made rules and antisemitic church “fathers”.

Then conscious believers recognise this and they are slowly but surely returning to the roots of their faith. Gossip is another issue which has to go in order to become holy (verse 16). When gossip is going on the action can be compared with shedding the blood of the one spoken about, read verse 16, which is called murder. The Lord ends the verse by stating He is Adonai, which means that when people gossip they condemn the person talked about and murder him or her. And condemnation is the job of the Judge, while life and death are also in the hands of the Lord being our Creator.

Shabbat shalom,
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehillat of Beth Yeshua
Amsterdam, Holland