Achrei-Mot Kedoshim

  1. With Azazael we see two goats which die. One before Hashem and one off a cliff. In our world, everything dies. Azazael is just reminding us that there are two ways to die. One is with your life being dedicated to Hashem and timeless Kedusha and the other is just hurled over a cliff. We have a choice and Azazael puts it into stark contrast for us. Why lots? Because Hashem can enable us to choose the higher path – we can’t just go it alone. Perhaps those two messages are why Azazael is so central to Yom Kippur.
    1. I had used a dvar about two goats from Yaacov’s deception. One used to deceive and one to feed. Except the goats were used together so they falls apart.
  2. Their blood will be upon you. That’s ominous. Who’d guess we were talking about a cow you kill outside the camp. Cows and other animals have real value – they can’t just be slaughtered. This restriction was later lifted, but there is still something to learn. When they are slaughtered before Hashem, they reach their physical and spiritual potential. In my opinion, when they are slaughtered just to have a tasty barbeque they might be reaching a physical potential, but they are being spiritually short-shifted. I’m beginning to think we should only eat animals on Shabbos – before Hashem as it were. (although you could argue brachot bring meat before Hashem). But I don’t think fish or chicken should get the same treatment.
  3. Here we have a very strange thing. Molech. The word literally means someone in the role of a King. A Kohen or Mohel has the same word construction. Without vowels it is identical to the word for King – Melech. And the Torah makes the connection – putting your children through the fire for Molech profanes Hashem’s name. I think we can understand Molech clearly. It is a conception of a god-king. But instead of encouraging the realization of potential, it cuts it down; seemingly in service to the divine. To me, this kind of offering is just like suicide bombing and religious terrorism. Sacrifice of one’s self for no productive end.
  4. The land receives the sins of its inhabitants and actively kicks the inhabitants out. The land itself has a soul. It too has physical and spiritual potential. And if it is denied, it disgorges the problem. So animals have souls and potential, and now the land does too. It seems pagan. But there is a very important difference, which we’ll get to later.
  5. Now we have two more kinds of prohibited sorcery. Ovot and Yidoni. We learn from the Rabbis that these are ways of learning about the future. The whole Torah is supposed to speak to us today. What are these things and how do they contaminate? Ovot is derived from Father and Yidoni is from Knowledge. If we look at two aspects of holiness – that it is built off of creation and then the use of that creation for spiritual energy we might be able to break these down. Yidoni is knowledge. Perhaps it is the idea that you can predict the future through observation. Like IBM’s Smarter Planet using Big Data to know the future – but without understanding the role of G-d. It is antithetical to spiritual energy and ultimately fails. And perhaps Ovot is the mirror image. Looking to the holiness of our fathers to understand the future – but failing to recognize the importance of creativity in our own lives.
  6. Why are proper weights holy or improper ones unholy? If holiness is taking creativity and converting it to spiritual energy then you end up with the whole process being perverted as soon as theft is involved. Then, instead of creating you cheat. And whatever you give or rest with is perverted and denies your connection to G-d.
  7. In this final portion G-d controls the land. In fact, all natural forces are servants of Hashem. The land might eject you, but that is because the land of Israel is holy. It must be holy and in service to Hashem. And this is where it breaks from paganism. These are not independent forces, but souls in service of Hashem.

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