Parashat Achrei Mot (After the Death)
Vayikra (Leviticus) 16:1–18:40
Haftarah: Ezekiel 22:1–16
Jerusalem is the most important city in the world. As I was reading this week’s Parasha and Haftarah portions, I couldn’t help but think about Jerusalem’s complicated reality and how much God cares for this city. It is the only place in the world where God has chosen to put His name. It is a city whose unique destiny is to unite people around God and ultimately, to point them to Him. And it is a city that I cherish with all my heart. Yet, the reality is that Jerusalem is far from fulfilling its destiny.
In Leviticus 17:10–14, we read of the important connection between blood and the flesh, and of not eating blood due to its connection to life. These verses can also be understood to point us to the significance of Messiah shedding his blood for us:
And anyone from the house of Israel, or from the strangers who reside among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats the blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’ Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘No person among you may eat blood, nor may any stranger who resides among you eat blood.’ So when anyone from the sons of Israel, or from the strangers who reside among them, while hunting catches an animal or a bird which may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dirt.
For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.’
We continue to read in Leviticus 18:1–7:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am the LORD your God. You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the LORD your God. So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, which, if a person follows them, then he will live by them; I am the LORD. ‘None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the LORD. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness.”
In these verses, we see the importance of not being like those around us — being set apart. We also see specific instructions regarding not uncovering the nakedness of our father, mother, or any of our blood relatives. Interestingly, the instructions from Leviticus 17 and 18 remind us of God’s instructions to Noah and his sons in Genesis 9.
They also connect to our Haftarah reading from Ezekiel 22:1–16, and the judgment which will come (or in some ways, has already come) on Jerusalem for defiling the name of the LORD, for making it a bloody city, for shedding innocent blood for idols in its midst, for taking the lives of others, as well as uncovering the nakedness of the fathers:
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then inform her of all her abominations. And you shall say, ‘This is what the LORD God says: “A city shedding blood in her midst, so that her time is coming; and a city that makes idols, contrary to her own good, for defilement! You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and you have become defiled by your idols which you have made. So you have brought your days closer and have come to your years; therefore I have made you a disgrace to the nations, and an object of mocking to all the lands. Those who are near and those who are far from you will make fun of you, you of ill repute, full of turmoil. “Behold, the rulers of Israel, each according to his power, have been among you for the purpose of shedding blood. They have treated father and mother with contempt among you. They have oppressed the stranger in your midst; they have oppressed the orphan and the widow among you. You have despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths. Slanderous men have been among you for the purpose of shedding blood, and among you they have eaten at the mountain shrines. In your midst they have committed outrageous sin. Among you they have uncovered their fathers’ nakedness; among you they have abused her who was unclean in her menstruation. And one has committed abomination with his neighbor’s wife, another has outrageously defiled his daughter-in-law, and another among you has sexually abused his sister, his father’s daughter. Among you they have taken bribes to shed blood; you have taken interest, you have injured your neighbors by oppression, and you have forgotten Me,” declares the LORD God. “Behold, then, I strike with My hand your profit which you have made and the bloodshed which is among you. Can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong for the days that I will deal with you? I, the LORD have spoken and will act. And I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you among the lands, and I will eliminate your uncleanness from you. Then you will defile yourself in the sight of the nations, and you will know that I am the LORD.”
God’s judgment came upon Jerusalem in the expelling of the Jewish people from the Land; I believe more judgment is coming on Jerusalem for defiling His name with its sin. In writing this, my heart grieves for the place that I love so much, a place which I know that in the end will fulfill its destiny to be God’s everlasting dwelling place and to unite people together in worship of the LORD. However, until then, I am inspired to pray more and cultivate the way for the future acknowledgement and welcoming of our Messiah back to His city. What a glorious day it will be!
Would you join me today in asking for God’s peace to come to Jerusalem?
Check out previous blogs on this parashah!
Did you know? — Lone Soldier
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HE IS THE LORD. What a teaching.
The FATHER is touching hearts, … you are remembered, we are one with you in fervent prayers, Israel has incessant aggression, unprovided attacks, constant prayer intercessions are not in vain.
Thank you very much for the parashah blog, Bro Moran. The richness of G-D’s Word is a well of unconsuming upliftment, comforting, I sense spiritual satiation of HIS Wisdom. HalleluYAH, bless The L-RD !