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Weekly Drash - Acharei Mot 5767

Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
reprinted by permission of FFOZ

Parashat Hashavuah

Acharei Mot - אחרי מות : “After the death”
Torah : Leviticus 16:1–18:30
Haftarah : Ezekiel 22:1–19
Gospel : Luke 14–15


Thought for the Week:

In Leviticus 16 we read about the Tabernacle ritual for the Day of Atonement. That passage speaks of an intersection of three spheres of holiness. On the holiest day of the year (the Day of Atonement), the holiest man in the world (the high priest of Israel) goes into the holiest place in the world (the Holy of Holies).



Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. (Leviticus 16:3)

The high priest had to enter in order to make atonement for Israel, atonement for the Holy of Holies, atonement for the Tabernacle and atonement for the altar. What does atonement mean? We have to be careful not to oversimplify the concept of atonement as if it simply meant “forgiveness for sins.” The word our English translations render as “atonement” is the Hebrew kaphar (כפר). The word has different shades of meaning. In Torah Club, we often point out that it implies a protective covering. When the Torah describes how Noah applied pitch to the exterior of his ark, it uses the term kaphar. “You shall cover (kaphar, כפר it inside and out with pitch (kopher, כפר)” (Genesis 6:14). In the ritual context of Israel’s worship system, the worshippers, the priesthood and even the Tabernacle and its furnishings all require kaphar in the sense of ‘covering.’ They all need to be covered in order to stand in the presence of God. Without such covering, they would not survive the encounter with the consuming presence of God. The sense in which the word is used is as a covering/protection from danger. The idea is that God is dangerous. If common, mortal, finite and sinful man is to enter the presence of the holy, immortal, infinite and righteous God, the man must be covered (i.e., atoned for), or he will be consumed and destroyed by the presence of God. Typically, the Torah prescribes sacrifices or the application of blood as a protective covering; i.e., atonement.

The word kaphar (כפר) has a second, not unrelated implication. It can also be rendered as ‘ransom’ for one’s life. In the Torah, kaphar can mean a monetary payment made in exchange for a blood-debt.

The need for atonement is well illustrated by the story of Adam and Eve. Our first mother and father enjoyed the presence of God in Eden. They walked with Him daily in the garden. Then they sinned. Their eyes were opened and they immediately realized that they were naked. They realized that they were without covering. Instinctively they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves because they knew God was coming, and they knew they could no longer stand in His presence. They could not enter His presence without covering.

Their effort to cover themselves, however, was futile. Fig leaves are inadequate. When they heard God’s voice and knew that He was entering the garden, they hid themselves. They could not come face to face with Him.

God made garments of skin to cover them. Thus the story of the fall of man gives us our first glimpse of sin, the subsequent need for covering, the first glimpse of judgment and the first provision of atonement. The sin of Adam and Eve required a sacrifice to cover them. “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)

Shavuah Tov! Have a Good Week!

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Restoration Products

Restoration Workbook

We are pleased to announce 3 different Restoration products, now available at the FFOZ Store (  The Restoration Book, the Restoration Workbook and the Audio Book. The new workbook contains fifteen chapters that correspond to the chapters in the book Restoration, written by D. Thomas Lancaster. Each chapter contains an introduction and questions to help the reader explore the concepts and ideas presented in the book in more detail.

Ideal for Study Groups

This workbook is primarily intended for use in a group setting. Group leaders could set up a book study, where participants read a chapter during the week, and then the group could go over the workbook portion of the chapter during the study.

The Restoration Audio Book, read by D. Thomas Lancaster, contains six CDs and is narrated by the Author.

FFOZ's Weekly e-Drash is based on our popular Torah Study Program,
Torah Club. For an introduction to Torah Club click here.

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