Parashat Acharei Mot (After the death of) Leviticus 16:1-18:30
Haftarah: Malachi 3:4-24
This Shabbat is special, as it is the Shabbat before Passover. It is called the Great Shabbat and reminds the people during the days when the Temple stood of the commandment to bring the lamb into the home on the tenth day of Nissan (see Exodus 12:3).
There is a connection between Passover and this week’s Torah reading. Passover is the festival of redemption and it should be emphasized that HaShem brought the Children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt in order to reflect His holiness before the nations. Hence there is a clear admonition not to follow after the ways of the world.
“And HaShem spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them, “I Am HaShem your G-d, according to the deed of the land of Egypt, which you dwelt in, you shall not do, neither according to the deed of the land of Canaan, which I am bringing you there, you shall not do, nor in their statutes do not walk. My judgments you shall do and My statutes you shall keep to walk in them. I Am HaShem your G-d.”‘” Lev. 18:1-4
The word which I translated “deed” implies “a way of life”; hence HaShem is commanding that His people must behave in a way which is vastly different than the rest of those who dwell in this world. In other words this text is speaking about sanctification. As believers in Messiah Yeshua we are the only individuals who have been equipped to truly live a life pleasing to the Living G-d. It is because of the Holy Spirit, Who only dwells in Messiah’s followers, that one can embrace the standards which are recorded in the Scripture.
I am not speaking about legalism, but obedience. Such obedience is not rooted in fear of punishment, but rather is an outcome of experiencing the love of HaShem which is ONLY expressed and made available through Yeshua. It is not an accident that the parasha opens up with the words, “after the death”; because it is only after dying to oneself that obedience will be a desire for the believer. Remember that on Shabbat HaGadol Israel brought the lamb into their homes, only to sacrifice it four days later. Not only the children, but the entire family would grow fond of the lamb that appeared so gentle and dependent. It was not easy to lead the lamb to the Temple, and that day was full of tears for the children and the parents could easily sympathize with their children’s emotion.
The lesson that is gleaned from the Passover sacrifice is that our sin brings death. Perhaps if we remember this Biblical truth we would be more motivated to die to self and live in the Spirit, bringing joy to our G-d. Once one knows the feeling of honoring G-d by means of obedience it becomes a personal means of joy and gladness.
Passover offered the people a choice and that choice still has to be made each year and in reality each moment.
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