Acharei Mot: to walk the path

Parashat Acharei Mot establishes boundaries for visiting the Sanctuary and articulates the consequences for desecrating it. Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come at will into the Shrine behind the curtain, in front of the cover that is upon the ark, lest he die; for I appear in the cloud over the cover (Leviticus 16:2). Only specific people may enter on specific occasions with a specific state of mind and spirit.

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During my rabbinical studies, I visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. I came to understood that some people live in the shadow of buildings that no longer exist. Observant Orthodox Jews do not ascend the steps toward the Dome of the Rock because the Temple once stood there. During the period of the Second Temple, the High Priest was supposed to imagine the Ark resting in the Holy of Holies and the Tablets within it.

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This emptiness, together with the silence of Aaron experiencing the death of his two sons, can be disappointing. But it might inspire us to focus not on words or objects. Walking around the Dome, my colleagues and I spontaneously recited, I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘We are going to the House of Adonai’ (Psalm 122:1). Walking the path is the essence of Jewish tradition, however differently in each generation. Once we brought sacrifices; today we bring our intentions and prayers to God. We must prepare ourselves to walk the path.

(Published at CCAR News)

About the Author
Rabbi Binyamin Daniel Minich leads Kehilat Daniel in Jaffa and works at the Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism in Tel Aviv. He is a PhD student at the department of Jewish philosophy of Bar Ilan University and a rabbinic fellow of Beit Midrash Har'el in Jerusalem. Rabbi Minich is a proud member of the Israeli Council of Progressive Rabbis (MARAM) and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He also serves at the board of MARAM, at Limmud FSU Israel's organizational committee and at the board of the Israeli Association of Crimean Jews. Benny is married to Dr. Elena Minich and together they raise three children - Hadar Yosef, Levi Moshe and Haleli Yerushalaim.
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