Parshat Acharay Mot

Leviticus: 16:1-18:30

1. [18:6] This list of forbidden sexual relations is read in the synagogue on Yom Kippur—the holiest day of the year. Why?

2. [18:6] “Do not defile yourself with any of these things…” The Torah emphasizes sexual modesty and there are many rabbinic laws which distance us even more from immodesty. Some communities emphasize these laws, while others keep the laws, but don’t emphasize them as much. Some argue that putting constant emphasis on the laws of sexual immorality is counter-productive, because it causes people to think about sex more than they should. Do you agree or disagree with that thinking?

3. [17:4,9] There is a severe punishment for someone who offers a sacrifice in a place other than the Temple. Today, our prayers (which are in place of the sacrifices) can be said almost anywhere. Why does the Torah look so negatively at someone who offers a sacrifice to God outside of the Temple?

4. According to some of our commentators, our ancestors didn’t really have to go through the sea—they could have gone around the sea. Why did God specifically want us to go through the split sea?

5. The midrash tells us that the angels started singing praises to God when the Egyptians were being drowned in the sea. God told them to stop singing because it wasn’t right to sing while His creations were dying. This midrash is teaching us to see all of mankind as equally human. Modern Jews are criticized for being too exclusive, but are also criticized for being too cosmopolitan—too universal. What is the proper balance between being exclusive and being universal?


Through being joyful, a person can energize someone else and that is a very big thing. Most people are full of suffering and worries and different troubles and it is impossible for them to express what is in their hearts. When a person with a happy face comes along, he is able to energize them.

–R. Nachman of Breslov, 1772-1810, Ukraine.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker
And this study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

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