Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 2020 by: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
The Process of Purification
There are various parallels between this Parsha, talking about the purification of the People from sin and the national atonement for impurity in the Temple on Yom Kippur, and the previous Parsha, talking about the purification of the individual leper. Fascinatingly, we also see similar themes in the purification of the Red Heifer mentioned in Parshat Hukat.
Beginning with the Red Heifer and the purification of the leper we see that three substances used for the purification are identical: scarlet wool, cedarwood, and hyssop. Both involve “going out of the encampment.” Yet still, the full purification of the leper is accomplished when he brings his offerings to the Beit Hamikdash. In the case of the Red Heffer too there is a clear connection to the Beit Hamikdash when the Kohen is to sprinkle the blood of the Red Heffer seven times while looking at the Beit Hamikdash.
In regard to the purification of the leper and the purification on Yom Kippur, we find that both involve two animals, two birds or two goats, one slaughtered and the other one left alive too be “sent out” [the depth of this parallelism is discussed at length by the Arizal]. Also, here too we see the theme of the scarlet wool, since also on Yom Kippur the halacha is that scarlet wool was tied to the two aforementioned goats. According to our Sages, the cedarwood and the hyssop of the purification of the leper hint to grandeur and to humility, respectively. On Yom Kippur, there is also the combination of the gold clothing of the Kohen Gadol which hint to grandeur while beside them are the white clothing of simplicity and humility that the Kohen Gadol also wears on this day.
Although a full examination of these parallels is outside the scope of our discussion, we would like to focus on one element that reappears in all three cases mentioned here, and is also unique to these three cases, not mentioned anywhere else in halacha: the scarlet wool [there is mention of a scarlet thread in the clothing of the Kohen, but this is woven with other threads as one fabric and not distinguished as a separate element as in these cases]. Our Sages make a link between this scarlet wool and the verse saying that “if your sins be like scarlet, they shall be cleansed like snow.” This reference clearly evokes the connection between the process of purification and cleansing from sin. According to the Arizal, the period of the Omer is a time to cleanse ourselves from the “impure blood.” Obviously, the comparison of sins to scarlet red evokes the red “impure blood” analogy. However, through the process of purification the “dam,” blood, becomes “adam,” man, and we rectify ourselves to be called Adam who received a soul from the Divine. When we “love our fellow man as ourselves,” as mentioned in this Parsha, recognizing the Divine soul of man in our fellowman, we rectify the blemish of the students of Rabbi Akiva who perished at this time for not adequately honoring each other. As a consequence, we can indeed be called “Adam” – “man” – ourselves.
Here in Hebron this message is especially potent, for here is the burial place of the first Adam, and also the righteous figures of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs who are an example of love to the fellowman and an example for all mankind.
Miracles from the Holy Land:
To win the Six-Day War, Israel needed to retake the Egyptians’ heavily fortified Kusseima outpost. The Egyptians were in control of powerful forces capable of a great counterattack, while the Israelis were weary from a full day of battle. As the Israeli Defence Forces drew near, they heard massive explosions. When they arrived they saw that the Egyptians had destroyed their equipment and abandoned the base, for no apparent reason! As the day continued, it became clear that the Egyptians were hastily abandoning many of their outposts and their supplies along with them. One mysterious report of the battle was from Egyptian soldiers who, when approaching the Israeli border, saw a gigantic hand come out from the sky. Immediately terrified, they turned around and ran the other way, unable to deny that they were witness to a supernatural event.