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May 2, 2019
Beis Moshiach in #1164, Acharei, Acharei-K'doshim, Parsha of the Future

By Rabbi Nissim Lagziel

A Joke to Begin with…

An elderly couple was celebrating their golden wedding anniversary, their 50th. For this occasion, a fancy hall was rented, and the entire extended family was invited. In the middle of the celebration the “bride,” age 76 years old, lifted up a cup of l’chaim for a heartfelt toast.

L’chaim to my husband, to the family and to all! I want to let you know, that these fifty years flew by like two days!”

The crowd cheered. Everyone was ecstatic from these powerful, heartwarming words.

“I’m not done yet,” the grandmother hushed the cheering crowd. “I meant to say that it was like TWO really important days in the Jewish Calendar…”

“Yom Kippur and Tishah B’av!!!”


This week we will read Parshas Achrei-Mos, which discusses the work of the Kohen Gadol in the Beis Hamikdash on the holy day of Yom Kippur. The korbanos that were offered, and the G-dly atonement which was achieved. For the Kohen Gadol to serve on this holy day, he needed to have many qualities; he had to be intelligent and G-d fearing, so he’s worthy of entering the Kodesh Hakodashim (the “Holy of Holies”), but he also must have…. a wife!

Why can’t the Kohen Gadol be single? Why can’t he do the service of this holy day, unless he is married?

Furthermore, the Rambam teaches us after the conclusion of the Avodah, people would escort the Kohen Gadol to his home, and there he would celebrate…

“He would make a celebration for exiting the Kodesh Ha’kodashim in peace.” (Laws of the Yom Kippur service 4:2)

Why is it important for the Rambam to teach us that? As we know, the Rambam defines his book in his introduction as a book of “halachos, halachos” —  namely, that every section, clause, sentence, and word in this book is supposed to teach us a clear and practical halacha. This description of the Kohen Gadol throwing a party on Motzei Yom Kippur is just some story telling. What practical halachic value does it carry?

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, and it’s meant to infuse our hearts and minds with Kedusha —  purity and sanctity, and leave a profound impact our day-to-day lives to be and act better.

But we sometimes encounter a problem. What exactly is real Kedusha? What does being holy look like and feel like?

Many of us tend to think that Kedusha means to “fly high”; to abandon connection with the physical world and dive into a world of spirituality and become Malachim. We can think that an ideal holy life means that we fast, wear ragged clothes, recluse ourselves and separate from our families, and then we have attained the desired level of Kedusha, we became an “angel.”

However, all we have become is a Jewish version of a monk or an Indian guru, not a G-d fearing Jew! Other religions look at seclusion from the world as an advantage. They admire those individuals that separate themselves from regular life in order to “elevate” themselves to G-d. Yiddishkeit, on the other hand, generally views such behavior exactly as the opposite, as distancing oneself from his G-dly mission.

A Nazir, a person who chose to dedicate a portion of his life exclusively to Hashem by refraining from cutting his hair, becoming impure from dead corpses and drinking wine, is told by the Torah to bring a Korban Chatas, a sin offering, at the end of his period of Nezirus!

What sin has he transgressed? He just became holier and closer to Hashem! The Gemara explains that he committed a sin by refraining from wine — a drink that is kosher and can be used for a mitzvah.

The Midrash (quoted in Tanya, chapter 36) famously teaches that נתאוה הקב’’ה להיות לו יתברך דירה בתחתונים” — Hashem desired to have a dwelling place down here, in this world, nowhere else!

The point of Avodas Hashem and of a person elevating himself is that we will be able to draw the Kedusha downwards, into the world. Moshe Rabbeinu went up to the Mount Sinai, not to stay there, but rather bring Kedusha in the form of the Holy Torah down to the world.

It is in this light that we must understand the holiness of Yom Kippur:

The Kohen Gadol’s entry once a year into the Kodesh Hakodoshim was not in order to let him experience a G-dly sight, rather infuse him and give him the ability to bring that which he has seen out to the world — to his wife, his kids, his family, the other Kohanim and to the rest of the Jews!

In these 2 halachos, the Torah teaches what real Kedusha is all about. It’s about elevating the home, your family relations with your spouse, and the rest of the world.

Halacha requires that the Kohen Gadol be a married person. And while the Kohen Gadol had to separate from his wife and family 7 days before Yom Kippur to purify himself, that is only so he can achieve holiness that he will bring …right back home!

It’s about coming home after a full day of G-dly service and being able to apply all we achieved at shul and in the Beis Hamikdash at home. The real test of the Kohen Gadol’s service in the Beis Hamikdash on Yom Kippur is his ability to come home to his wife after being separate for 7 days.

The Rambam is teaching us a very strong message; that Yom Kippur starts the day after; when we bring the Kedusha back with us to our homes and families. The real Yom Tov of Yom Kippur is the Yom Tov that the Kohen Gadol celebrated by returning home that night.

The same is true about the Geula, the ultimate redemption. Many of us think that the Geula is something esoteric; holy, lofty and sublime. But that’s a partial picture.

Moshiach is no monk dressed in white, riding a white donkey somewhere in the Judean desert, waiting for a G-dl’y signal to fly on a cloud and blow the shofar. Moshiach and Geula are a part of the real world. They are here, now, and today. In Hebrew, the majority of letters that make up the word “Geula” are non-other than the word Gola (exile). The only difference between them is one letter, the letter “Aleph.”

The Rebbe gleans a very empowering message from this enigmatic fact. The Geula is not coming to distort the world. The Geula is coming to elevate, release and unbind all aspects of the world from their slavery to the laws of nature and to our misconception of reality. The Geula will reveal how all of humanity (not only the Jewish people), all life forms, all events, and all activities exist just to reveal the glory of Hashem!

A Story to conclude…

A french Baal Teshuva once related the following answer of the Rebbe to him as he was coming closer to Yiddishkeit.

At that time, he was working long shifts and the only time that he had to eat was close to sunset of the short winter days. He wrote the Rebbe a proposition; as he is a Baal Teshuva and the Alter Rebbe in Igeres Hateshuva writes a specific amount of fasts for certain aveiros, maybe he should delay his meal until after sh’kiah, and like this, he will be able to gain fast days as a correction for his past. The Rebbe answered, “He should eat at the earliest opportunity he has. As a Jew, he needs to be strong to serve Hashem B’simcha. If he wishes to redeem the fasts mentioned in Igeres Hateshuva, he should just avoid eating apples.”

He was amazed at the answer. “How did the Rebbe know that apples were my favorite fruit?”


It’s not about becoming holy; a Jew comes holy from birth. It’s about making the world around us holy.

Good Shabbos!

Based on: לקו”ש חלק ל”ב; סה”ש תשנ”א


Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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