Vayikrah / Lev. 16:1 – 18:30
Haftarah: Yechezkel / Ezekiel 22:1-19
Brit Hadashah: Matittiyahu / Mt. 15:10-20; Mark 12:28-34
Acharei mot means “After death“.
Summary of Parsha Acharei Mot
HaShem orders the kohanim to be very careful when entering the Mishkan.
On Yom Kippur, the Kohen HaGadol must approach the holiest part of the Mishkan, after certain special preparations and dressed in specific clothes. The Kohen HaGadol presents offerings that are unique to Yom Kippur, including the two identical rams that are designated by lottery or luck. One is “for HaShem,” and is offered in the Temple, and the other is “for Hazazel,” and is offered in the wilderness.
The Torah enunciates the individual obligations of Yom Kippur: On the tenth day of the seventh month, the individual must abstain from eating, drinking, smearing, wearing leather shoes, washing, and maintaining marital relations. The consumption of blood is prohibited. The blood of sacrificed animals and wild beasts must be covered.
People are warned not to engage in the evil practices that were common in Egypt. Incest is defined and prohibited. Marital relations are prohibited during the woman’s monthly cycle. Homosexuality, bestiality, and child sacrifices are prohibited. The nation is called upon to be all holy, not to desecrate themselves with these prohibitions so that they merit living in the Land of Israel.
Thus begins our parashat:
Vayikrah / Lev. 16:1
Vayedaber Adonay el-Moshe ajarey mot shney beney Aharon bekorvatam lifney-Adonay vayamutu.
“And Adonai spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aharon, who died when they appeared before Adonai: “
Lev 16:2, 4: The LORD said to Moses, Tell your brother Aaron not at all times to enter the holy place behind the veil, before the mercy seat on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat… He will dress in the sacred linen robe, and the linen underpants will be on his flesh, and he will gird himself with the linen belt and cover himself with the linen tiara (these are sacred garments). He will wash his body with water and dress with them.”
Who can enter the Holy of Holies?
Only on one day a year could the earthly high priest enter the holiest place in the tabernacle. That day is called Yom hakipurim or Yom Kippur, which means “day of atonement.”
That day falls on the tenth day of the seventh biblical month. That day is the holiest of all the days of the year. All the people are obliged to fast as a sign of repentance and ask for forgiveness for the sins committed against Adonai. On that day all the sins that the whole nation has committed against HaShem throughout the year are forgiven. It is an extremely critical day. If the high priest failed in his mission, the people could not obtain forgiveness of their sins, and this would bring very serious consequences to the whole nation.
Now, I want you to understand something, the whole earthly worship is a replica of the heavenly cult.
The letter to the Hebrews describes in detail the entire messianic heavenly fulfillment of this service and shows how the Messiah entered the holiest in heaven with his own blood once for all and produced an eternal atonement and purification for those who are destined for eternal life and a priestly ministry in the heavenly tabernacle. If we do not see that there are two dimensions, one heavenly and one earthly, we will understand neither earthly worship nor heavenly worship.
The Messiah died and rose again to officiate in heavenly worship, not earthly worship. All earthly worship is a shadow of the celestial, but the shadow is not a substitute for the heavenly nor does the heavenly remove the earthly shadow. On the contrary, there is a perfect harmony between the two cults, and they can coexist without conflicts.
By studying the details of Yom hakipurim service we can learn greatly from the heavenly ministry of the High Priest according to the order of Malki-Tzedek, which is eternal service based on the life of resurrection, the indestructible life.
On Yom Kippur the earthly high priest had to take off the high priestly clothes that he wore for daily ministry and dress in linen clothes in order to enter the holiest place. That constitutes a shadow of the death and resurrection of the Messiah. The high priest had to strip naked, a figure of the death of the Messiah. And then he would put on a new linen garment that speaks of the body and ministry of the Resurrection of the Messiah. Linen is not only the garment of all priests but also of angels which shows that it is a heavenly garment (Eze. 9:2,3,11; 10:2,6,7; 40:3; Dan. 10:5; 12:6,7; Rev. 15:6; 19:14).
The relationship between Yom Kippur and the Messiah is also seen in the fact that linen was present all the time in the process of His death and resurrection (Matt. 27:59; Mark 15:46; Lk. 23:53; 24:12; Jn 19:40; 20:5-7). Fine linen is also the clothing of the resurrection of the saints (Rev. 19:8). Through the Messiah, we have access to the heavenly throne that is in the holiest place in heaven.
In Hebrews 4:14-16 it is written: “Having, then, a great high priest who transcended the heavens, Yeshua, the Son of God, let us retain our faith. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in everything like us, but without sin. Therefore, let us approach with confidence the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy, and find grace for the timely help.”
Shabbat Shalom Mishpochah!