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6/7 May: Parshat Acharei Mot (HEMS and Reform)

rabbipaulsmlShabbat comes in 8.17pm: goes out 9.29pm 

In Chapter 16 of Leviticus, in Parshat Acharei Mot, the Torah explains the rites of purification that were to take place annually on Yom Kippur and that part of the purification ritual on Yom Kippur included fasting.

The Torah states that in the “seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall practice self-denial (‘t’anu et nafshoteichem’) and you shall do no manner of work”.  Some translations explain the Hebrew “t’anu et nafshoteichem” as “you shall afflict your souls”.  This implies that abstaining from food, drink, and other pleasures on Yom Kippur is a way to punish ourselves for having sinned.  I would suggest that a better translation is: ”To practice self-denial” — which has a different implication.

The purpose of the Yom Kippur abstentions is to demonstrate that we can exercise control over our instincts.  Animals do not have this power; their instincts control them.  So although we may have sinned, and thereby diminished our dignity, we  have the capacity to rein in our appetite — to control and redirect our energies.


Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

May 2, 2016