This week’s Torah portion comes after the death of the two sons of Aharon HaKohen, the High Priest. Nadav and Avihu were killed for bringing a sacrifice that they weren’t allowed to bring.
The parasha continues to speak about particulars of bringing sacrifices, where they can be brought, which parts can be eaten, and the prohibition to eat blood. Now Hashem instructs Moshe Rabbeinu in all the specifics of Aharon HaKohen‘s service on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The different sacrifices of the day include animals, incense, and the mystifying lots of two goats. One is brought as a sacrifice, and one is sent out to the desert. The laws of the Kohen Gadol‘s service on Yom Kippur are intricate and many. Yom Kippur is an eternal holiday set aside special for the atonement of the Jewish people.
Next we learn about the value of relationships and which types aren’t allowed between different people. The parasha ends talking about the holiness of the Land of Israel. If we’re not careful with how we act within it, the Land can become contaminated, and we certainly don’t want that charge on our accounts!
It struck me over the last couple of days that so many things in Judaism are based on time.
Shabbos starts eighteen minutes before sunset. We can’t eat chometz, leavened products, after a certain time on Erev Pesach, the day before Passover. (I don’t claim to know the particular calculations for how that works… to find out specific times for your location check out My Zmanim!)
Yom Kippur‘s services are on a strict time schedule. The Kohen Gadol can actually only enter the Kodesh Hakedashim, the Holy of Holies, on one specific day of the year – Yom Kippur!
Why is everything in Judaism so time-oriented? I can’t tell you a deep philosophical answer ’cause I don’t know it. But I’ll tell you my thoughts…
When the events and activities in your life are regulated by specific time frames, the rest of your time opens up for other things.
Imagine if there weren’t guidelines for when the three daily prayers should be said. We’d spend our lives worrying that we should be praying, because we don’t know how much we’re supposed to pray. Instead, Hashem gave us three different prayers to say, three time frames that they should be said, and now we’re free to spend the rest of our time on our other obligations and pursuits, sticking in mini-prayers whenever we need to.
Many people hold by the opinion that the Afikoman, the “dessert” of the Pesach Seder, should be eaten by midnight according to Jewish law. (This is different from 12:00am – you can find this time on My Zmanim also!) If there wasn’t an “end” time for the Seder, we could go on talking about Yetzias Mitzrayim, the Exodus, forever (like the guys arguing at the end of this video about how late their Seder went!) and never move on to the other things we have to do in our lives!
Most people enjoy structure. It allows them to plan their time most productively and enjoy the moment while they’re in it since they know it won’t last forever. Do you like structure?
By the way, I heard from Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein on Torah Anytime that it’s most preferable for the Seder table to be set by young girls under the age of Bas Mitzvah (12 years old)! (If there’s no one in that age range, any girl or woman, the younger the better!)
Listening to “Tov” on Sheves Achim Volume 2. Awesome album :)
Have a great Shabbos and a super fantastic Pesach Kasher V’sameach (Kosher and happy Passover)!!!!! Check out more on Pesach!