Unwritten Book!

Our Portion is called Acharei Mos – ‘After the death,’ because it begins after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died during the inauguration service of the Temple. The Torah then details the elaborate service the Kohain Godol (Aaron) was to perform on Yom Kippur.

In general, people seek to understand the world of souls and wonder what happens after one passes away and his Neshama ­­– soul is taken back to the heavenly spheres where it came from.

We are quite familiar with the Kaddish prayer that is recited during the 11 months after one loses a loved one. The Kaddish makes no reference to the deceased, rather it is a statement sanctifying and glorifying G-d. When the mourner recites the Kaddish and the Minyan responds, it brings merits to the soul of the deceased. It also generates a certain degree of connectivity to their loved ones.

On the last day Pesach Yizkor is recited. During its recital we pledge to charity on behalf of the deceased in order to add merits to their souls.

We see from this that doing spiritually related things in memory of the deceased is a way of elevating their souls. This is important because souls are judged by a heavenly tribunal based on how they lived their lives. Since no one lives a perfectly flawless life, we seek merits on their behalf to elevate and assist their souls.

Recently in the Daf Yomi – the daily page of Talmud study – Rava mentions that when he dies, Rebbe Oshiah will greet him. This is because Rava would explain Rebbe Oshiah’s sometimes vague statements and clarify how they conform to the authoritative Mishna of Rebbe.

The great Kabalists derive from this that when one delves into Torah insights written by a great person, the soul of the teacher will escort the soul of the one who studied his work and will speak well of him when he passes away and will shield him from exacting judgement.

The Talmud also tells us that our forefather Avraham, stands at the door of Gehenom – hell – and protects those who have a Bris from entering.

A person recently shared with us that they felt that the book biographies of great spiritual and accomplished people did not speak to her children, because they could not aspire to emulate such great people.

During the course of the conversation the following idea was proposed. Although children may not be inspired from books about exceptionally great people, but surely they can be inspired by how their parents conduct themselves, how they treat others and talk about others. How they value Torah and Mitzvos, give Tzadaka, care about their own parents, volunteer and seek to promote peace.

What if parents live their lives as if they were writing a book about themselves? The example of parents and their influence are the most impactful, and truly shape their children. They are the authors of the greatest unwritten biographies.

King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs captures this in the verse, “Listen my son to the reprimand of your father, and don’t stray from the Torah of your mother.”

We are truly fortunate and privileged to call our forebears, Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaacov, Sarah, Rivka, Rochel and Leah, our Avos and Imahos – our fathers and mothers – for they are the outstanding people to whom we look up to for guidance and direction. We continually evoke their names in Tefila – prayer –to remind us of how to conduct ourselves.

The world has gone wild and haywire and we are witnessing bizarre anti-Semitic chants, slogans and behavior. This stems from the hatred towards us they heard in their homes, or from the lack of direction given to them by their parents which allowed their children to shape their beliefs and opinions based on the agenda of misguided educators and the media.

At the conclusion of the Torah portion, the Torah delineates forbidden marriages and relationships in which the Egyptians and Canaanites were steeped. These nations indulged in the worst and most decadent behaviors.

The Torah mentions an idolatrous worship called Molech. The father would have his son walk through two rows of intense fire. The child would either be burned alive or become severely burned and maimed if he made it through. How did this totally absurd behavior become the norm? Commentators point out that the name Molech comes from the root Melech – king/ruler. Perhaps, what enabled the people to do the unthinkable, was because they allowed themselves to be ruled by ridiculousness. They put no thought into what they were doing. They killed their children in an insane way and felt that it was normal because it was the craze at the time.

The majority of anti-Israel activists and people who are expressing an opinion about Israel or Jews have never been there to experience and witness the beautiful fully functioning democratic country. Yes, there are differences, but as we saw October 7th, our true essence, our brotherhood and intuitive trust in Hashem was ignited and shined. May this good, spiritual and peaceful energy, continue, and through it we will be a beacon to the nations of the world as the exalted​ children of Hashem!