Soon it is Yom Kippur. The most holy day of the Jewish year. It is important to search our hearts and to make sure that nothing stands in between the Most High and us. We are being taught in this matter by Torah, in which is written regarding the death of two of the sons of Aharon (Aaron). It is in that text, parashat Acharei Mot (Vayikra, Leviticus16-18) that we are taught to observe the Yom Kippur service. It seems there is a connection between the death of these two tzadikim and Yom Kippur. These two sons of the cohen Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, did something which brought judgment upon them. In parashat Shemini (Vayikra 10-11) these two men put alien fire in their pans and through it they performed a non valid sacrifice. They die on the spot. Cohanim need to listen closely.
After that parashot Tazria (Vayikra 12-13) and Metzora (14-15) are next, before this event develops more. Globally speaking Tazria and Metzora cover the subjects of purity and the affliction of metzora – and the healing thereof. Immediately after that, in Acharei Mot, the event regarding what took place after the two cohanim died continues. The context is: holiness. Everybody’s attention is raised. Aharon is in mourning although he is not allowed to have his head unshorn nor was he allowed to rend his garments. The contrast between G-d’s holiness and purity and the unholiness and impurity of humankind is painfully clear. It creates an area of tension which becomes unbearable. This is the prime moment to talk about atonement, of reconciliation.
This shows that there is hope. And it shows that this hope exists also for Nadav and Avihu, because it is right around their violation that this hope bringing service is being taught. The difference between G-d and man is enlarged by the commandment of two Covers, one through which the priest goes in order to enter the Holy; and one enter ohasev ase (Kodesh Hakedoshim, Holy of Holies) once a year. As if this shows that man not only dies and goes through a gate after his life has ended, but also that during his life he has got to die to his old sinful life, in order to be able go through that gate and be able to enter eternal Life. Even though his passing away will take place at the end of his life on earth.
We will not become G-d by these two deaths, nor will we become like Him. But we are to become holy, as G-d is holy (Vayikra 11:44). Who experiences Yom Kippur like this will not experience the death which is: not entering eternal Life, sometimes called the “second death”. We need to work at this as hard as we can. Only then will Yom Kippur atone and reconcile. Yom Kippur atones and reconciles only for people who recognize it as a holy day and treat it as such.
What should we do on Yom Kippur in order to experience atonement and reconciliation? During the fast – which is made light by the noble purpose – and work stop, we think of how dependent we are on G-d’s grace, G-d’s love, G-d’s life, G-d’s judgment, the health and the healing He gives in this life or in the olam haba, the world to come. He reconciles us with Himself. It was Him who came as Yeshua to us by passing through two Covers: the first one by coming from the heavens to earth and the second one by His life giving and atoning and reconciling sacrifice, like our prophets Isaiah (chapter 53) and Zachariah (chapter 12, look at verse 10) told us.
This is also how the Most High passed through the gate to and from the heavens in order to be with us, when He spoke with Avraham and when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorra (Bereishis, Genesis 18-19). It was this gate to the heavens which He also showed to Ya’akov. Later on He passed through this gate when He was on mount Sinai in order to give Torah. It should be clear: our G-d is really interested in atonement, in reconciliation. That which we have broken and which we cannot repair ourselves He wants to and is able to restore by atonement and reconciliation, namely our relationship with Him, as we had it with Him in Gan Eden. ke oum (Tzom kal, a light fast).