Aliya-by-Aliya Sedra Summary
Numbers in [square brackets] are the
mitzva-count of the Sefer HaChinuch
Kohen - First Aliya - 17+7=24 p'sukim - 16:1-24
The first part of the sedra deals with the Yom Kippur service in the Beit HaMikdash - Seder HaAvoda. An emotional element is introduced when the Torah tells us that G-d gave these commands "after the deaths of Aharon's two sons". We cannot help but be struck by the combination of the Kohen Gadol performing the loftiest of spiritual tasks with the background of personal grief. These feelings are especially powerful as we
hear this reading on Yom Kippur morning.
Before the Service is described, kohanim in general are warned not to enter the Beit HaMikdash other than when they have tasks to perform there . (It is hard to miss the additional connection to Nadav and Avihu, who entered the Mikdash for the performance of an "improper" task.)
The entire Yom Kippur service, with all of its details, constitutes one mitzva . Aharon is to take a bull as a sin-offering and a ram as a burnt-offering. He is to wear his special garments (the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur alternates between his full set of eight garments and a special set of four pure white garments which he wore when he entered the Holy of Holies).
The Kohen Gadol washes his hands and feet ten times throughout the day and immerses in a mikveh five times. "From the People", Aharon takes two goats for sin-offerings and a ram as an Olah. The bull is an atonement for Aharon and the kohanim. Lots were cast to determine which of the two (identical) goats was to be offered as a korban and which was sent out alive into the wilderness as the scapegoat.
[SDT] There are two very different styles of sin - rejecting what G-d says and distancing oneself from the Divine, and violating His commands in an attempt to get closer to Him. Most sin is of the former type; that of Nadav and Avihu was of the latter kind. Corresponding to these two opposite motivations for sin, we have two special offerings on Yom Kippur - one that was offered inside the Beit HaMikdash, its blood actually being brought into the Kodshei Kodoshim, and the other being sent completely away from the Beit HaMikdash. Both goats were identical.
The Kohen Gadol performs all of the duties of the Day, with minimal assistance from other kohanim. The Holy of Holies filled with smoke from the incense offering when the Kohen Gadol entered. The service of Yom Kippur is complex; it is detailed in the repetition of the Musaf Amida on Yom Kippur as well as in the Torah reading.
This next portion continues to describe the complex service of Yom Kippur. Among the many tasks of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, is VIDUI on behalf of all the people of Israel.
His confession of sin must be accompanied by that of each Jew, if complete atonement is to be achieved. Rambam says that there is "communal forgiveness" for "minor" offenses, but major sins require that the individual do his own T'shuva. Even when there is "communal forgiveness", an individual still has to be part of the community in order to benefit from it. He who distances himself from the community does not receive the benefits of communal prayer, repentance, and atonement. (Oversimplified, to be sure, but there is a point here.)
Levi - Second Aliya - 10+7=17 p'sukim - 16:34-17:7
The Torah continues detailing the Yom Kippur service. It concludes with a reiteration of the rules of Yom Kippur for each of us, and the statement that the Day of Yom Kippur helps bring atonement to the People. It is thus the Day itself, the Temple service, communal prayer, AND our individual prayer, T'shuva, and confession that combine to attain true forgiveness for ourselves and all of Israel.
It is forbidden to slaughter an animal that is to be offered as a korban, outside the area of the Beit HaMikdash .
It is similarly forbidden to slaughter an animal for personal use within the precincts of the Temple. A korban slaughtered outside is invalid and must be burned, "personal" meat inside is likewise forbidden. Both are wasteful, hence sinful, acts which the Torah implies are akin to "bloodshed".
Shlishi - Third Aliya - 14+16=30 p'sukim - 17:8-18:21
The Torah reiterates the prohibition of slaughtering korbanot "outside" and states emphatically that it is forbidden to eat blood. Blood symbolizes life.
When one slaughters a bird or a "wild" animal (e.g. deer, wild goat — as opposed to the domesticated farm animal for which this mitzva does not apply), it is required to cover the first amount of blood with "dust" (sand, sawdust, etc.) . The prohibitions relating to blood are repeated and stressed. Blood of korbanot goes on the Altar as an atonement; blood of animals that are not eligible for korbanot must be covered.
CLARIFICATION... Mammals divide into two categories: B'HEIMA and CHAYA. All kosher B'HEIMA - cow, goat, and sheep - are "fit for the Altar". They are not included in the mitzva of KISUI DAM, covering the blood. Their blood is "atoning". No CHAYA is fit for the Mizbei'ach. Among the birds, only two types - the dove and the turtledove - are ever used as korbanot. All other birds cannot be korbanot. Therefore, the rule for birds follows the majority, and covering the blood applies to birds (including doves).
Chapter 18 contains the many forbidden sexual relationships. First there is a general warning against copying the negative practices of Egypt (whence we came) and those of the peoples of Canaan (to where we are going). We have only to follow the laws and statues of G-d and live by them.
[SDT] From the term V'CHAI BAHEM, "and live by them", we are taught two important concepts. Judaism is not just a religion; it is a way of life. Furthermore, this pasuk is (one of) the source(s) of the concept that many mitzvot are to LIVE by, not to die by, in other words, that for most mitzvot, we may violate them if it means saving a life.
It is prohibited to be intimate with any of the forbidden relations .
Homosexual relations are forbidden with one's father , (in addition to the general prohibition of homosexual conduct).
One may not have sexual relations with his mother , his father's wife (even if she is not his mother) , his sister (from same father or mother or both) , his
granddaughter from a son  or from a daughter , his daughter  (This prohibition is derived by KAL VACHOMER, the logical reasoning that if a man is forbidden to have relations with his granddaughter, how much more so is he forbidden to his daughter.)
The Torah singles out the daughter of one's father's wife and forbids relations with her  although she is his sister, already being forbidden to him by mitzva #192. There are different opinions as to the significance and ramifications of this "seemingly" extraneous prohibition.
One may not have relations with his paternal aunt , nor his maternal aunt , nor may a man have homosexual relations with his paternal  or maternal  uncle.
One may not have relations with his daughter-in-law , his brother's wife  (except for the unique circumstances of YIBUM). A man is forbidden to have relations with his wife's mother or daughter , or her grandmother or granddaughter from son or daughter [204,205]. A man may not have relations with his wife's sister, during the wife's lifetime - even if he divorced her first .
Relations with a woman in a state of NIDA is forbidden .
Relations with a married woman is forbidden. (This prohibition is counted elsewhere, but restated here with all the other forbidden relationships.
It is forbidden to give one's child to the pagan rituals of Molech .
R'vi'i - Fourth Aliya - 9+19=28 p'sukim - 18:22-19:14
The "bridge aliya" of combined sedras is R'VI'I.
Homosexual acts are forbidden . Sexual conduct with animals is forbidden for men, women [210,211].
We must not defile ourselves by doing any of the above. These abominable practices defile the Land and result in expulsion therefrom. We must scrupulously shun these practices.
Note: In addition to the Torah's prohibitions, there are many other relations that the Sages forbid in the spirit of the Torah's prohibitions.
BE HOLY! - HOW? In light of the exceptionally large number of mitzvot in this sedra, one can fairly assume that the answer to that question is - by the observance of mitzvot. This means more than "just going through the motions". It means a Torah way of life, mitzvot for the right motives and with the right enthusiasm.
One must revere his parents , yet keep the Shabbat, meaning (among other things) that if one's parents tell him to violate the Shabbat (or any other mitzva - Torah ordained or rabbinic), he may not listen to them. (Neither may he be disrespectful in his refusal to obey.) Parents and their children are all commanded by G-d to keep the Shabbat (and all mitzvot).
We may not "turn towards" idolatry in thought or words  nor may we make idols . This specifically prohibits making idols for others. Both these mitzvot are among the many that are designed to keep the Jew far away from idol worship.
Korbanot must be offered in the Beit HaMikdash in a proper and pleasing manner. Specifically, one must keep to the time limits presented for eating sacred meat . Violation carries a death penalty from heaven.
Watch this next set of mitzvot: Leave the corner of your field uncut, so that poor people might come and find grain to reap ; do not reap your entire field . A positive mitzva and a prohibition that basically say the same thing. Here's another pair: Leave the gleanings of the field for the poor ; do not take the gleanings . And then these two pairs of mitzvot are doubled again - each pair of mitzvot is counted separately as applied to a vineyard [220-223].
[SDT] The last Mishna of Makot - R. Chananya b. Akashya says: G-d wanted to merit the People of Israel, therefore he HEAPED upon us Torah and mitzvot... (not just GAVE us Torah & Mitzvot). He says we should leave the corner for the poor and He forbids us from cutting the corner. He forbids us from eating and drinking on Yom Kippur AND He commands us to fast. He forbids Melacha on Shabbat AND commands us to abstain from Melacha. This is a demonstration of G-d's special relationship with the People of Israel. To the people of the world He "simply" said DO NOT STEAL. Many things are included in that prohibition, but the Ben Noach is commanded (one of the 7) on GEZEL. The Jew is given a whole set of mitzvot - in this case, prohibitions - against stealing and robbing, and withholding that which belongs to others, and cheating in business, and moving the boundary marker to illegally increase one's land, etc. Of course, the violator has an impressive set of charges against him. But the Jew dedicated to Torah and mitzvot is showered with the benefits of many mitzvot. (This was one understanding of the multiplicity of mitzvot.)
Stealing , denying holding that which belongs to someone else , and swearing to that effect  are all forbidden. Swearing falsely  is forbidden.
Two observations: "A" lent his camera to "B" and later B denies that he has A's camera, and then swears that he doesn't have it. One might think that there are two violations here. But actually, there are three. Mitzva  overlaps both  and .
Second observation: Swearing falsely is different from swearing in vain. Both are serious prohibitions. Take the following example as an interesting distinction between the two. If someone swears (with G-d's name) that a banana is an apple, that is NOT a false oath; it is an oath in vain. Of course, it is not true that the banana is an apple, but everyone knows that and can see it for himself. The oath did not falsely convince anyone that is was an apple. Such an oath is a frivolous misuse of G-d's name and the sanctity of an oath and is a violation of "Thou shalt not take G-d's name in vain". A false oath is one that people accept as truth, since they have no first-hand knowledge of the issue. When the lie deceives others, then there is falsehood.
That the Torah says one who swears falsely disgraces G-d's name by doing so, is echoed by Rambam when he distinguishes between "serious" sins and "light" sins. Rambam puts into the serious category all sins that carry a death penalty... and swearing falsely. So destructive are false and vain oaths to the underpinnings of society, that it is categorized with the capital offenses.
Withholding someone's property , robbery , and delaying payment of a laborer  are prohibited. Note that most people would rationalize the situation and not consider delaying payment as a form of theft. Nonetheless, the Torah implies that one is (can be?) as serious as the other.
It is forbidden to curse a fellow Jew ; and one may not place a stumbling block before the blind , meaning [not exclusively] that one may not mislead or entrap others. Care must be taken not to mislead anyone, even inadvertently. This can include stretching the truth or saying something that is not actually a lie, but it will convey to others that which is not really so. (Helping someone do the wrong thing is part of this prohibition - even if the other knows what he's doing and wants to do it.)
Chamishi - Fifth Aliya - 8+10 p'sukim - 19:15-32
Do not pervert justice , nor show honor to a prominent person during a trial . We must always carry out true justice . Once again, notice that we have a positive mitzva which, in essence, is the "flip side" of several prohibitions, the violation of which results in distorting and perverting justice.
Technically, this positive command is directed to the judges and courts. However, the individual Jew must draw from these mitzvot the importance of being fair and apply some of these rules on an informal basis, to everyday life.
Neither gossip nor slander (regardless of whether what you say is true or false) ; do not stand by while your fellow is in danger of life, limb, or property . Do not hate your fellow Jew in your heart ; reproach SENSITIVELY your fellow  being careful to avoid embarrassing him  (even while reproaching him).
Look carefully... Embarrassing your fellow is an EXTREMELY serious sin. The source is the context of reproach. Here is a Jew who is reproaching his neighbor for Shabbat desecration (let's say). If he doesn't handle it well and causes undue distress to the Shabbat violator, then the reprover is guilty of embarrassing his fellow. If someone in the process of fulfilling the important mitzva of HOCHACHA must be sensitive to the feelings of the transgressor, how much more so must we be careful never to embarrass others under "normal" circumstances.
Do not take revenge  nor bear a grudge ; "Love thy neighbor..."  Notice the constant reminder: "I am G-d", or words to that effect. Being nice to others is not just nice; it is part of Torah and the fulfillment of G-d's commandments..
It is forbidden to cross-breed animals of different species , to sow mixed seeds , and to wear Shaatnez, mixtures of wool and linen in a garment. Note that in this one pasuk, there is a forbidden animal-animal mix, a plant-plant mix, and an animal/plant mix, making the point (among others) that G-d allows us a dominance over nature that has restrictions and limits.
This second Aliya of K'doshim finishes with the complicated issue of the atonement for improper relations with a maidservant who is partially freed and partially still a slave.
Fruits of the first three years of a tree's life are forbidden, i.e. ORLA . The fourth year's yield is sacred  and must be eaten only in Yerushalayim, or redeemed and the money used for food and drink in Yerushalayim. From the fifth year on, the fruits are permitted.
One may not eat gluttonously .
One may not consult and rely on omens, divination, conjuring, or some aspects of astrology [249,250].
Shaving the temple area of the head is forbidden  as is shaving the face with a razor . These 2 prohibitions apply to men only. They are unique in that all other prohibitions apply to both men and women. (Actually, there are some other exceptions, but this is the classic example.)
Permanent tattooing is forbidden .
Protect your daughters from loose behavior.
Keep the Shabbat and respect the place of the Mikdash (even when no Beit HaMikdash stands there) .
Ov and Yid'oni (mediums and wizards) are forbidden [255,256].
One must rise and otherwise respect the elderly and Torah scholars .
Shishi - Sixth Aliya - 5+7=12 p'sukim - 19:33-20:7
One must not take advantage of the newcomer to the Land (convert and/or stranger). The convert shall be treated with love; we must learn from our Egyptian experience. It is forbidden to cheat with any false measures ; one must be honest in weights and measures . Keep all of G-d's statutes and laws.
The punishment for Molech (a perverse idolatrous practice involving child-sacrifice) is death by stoning. G-d will cut off the one who serves Molech. If society does not punish the violator, G-d will. So too for the practice of Ov and Yid'oni.
Sanctify yourself and be holy.
Sh'vi'i - Seventh Aliya - 15+5=20 p'sukim - 20:8-27
Preserve the statutes and do them, for G-d sanctifies us because of our deeds.
Cursing one's parents, even after their deaths, is forbidden , a capital offense.
The Torah reiterates the forbidden relationships that were presented at the end of Acharei. They are all capital offenses. The specific death penalties vary, but it is in the context that Rambam learns the command to Sanhedrin to carry out the punishment of "internal burning" when called for . Rambam holds that each of the four death penalties is counted separately among the 613 mitzvot.
Again, the Torah commands us to preserve all of the mitzvot, thus preventing the Land from expelling us.
It is forbidden to follow the practices of the nations amongst whom we find ourselves . This ISUR applies to idolatrous practices, immoral acts, and that which has no apparent reason. IOW, there is no prohibition of following a non-Jewish practice that is reasonable and constructive.
In order to inherit the land of Israel, we must not behave in the abominable ways of nations who preceded us. We must distinguish between kosher and non-kosher animals (and life-styles); we must be holy and distinct from others. We are not automatically different from anyone else. Torah makes us different. Torah gives us our unique identities.
Every Jew must play a dual role. We are each individuals and we are part of Klal Yisrael. We are exhorted to keep the Torah as individuals, but we are also "advised" to be faithful to G-d so that tragedies will not happen to the People of Israel as a whole.
Ov & Yid'oni are punished by stoning.
Maftir is the final 3 p'sukim. They make a powerful summary of all the mitzvot of Acharei-K'doshim. There is a repeat of the command to be holy, and the reason: that G-d is holy. And we find G-d's promise that He will keep us apart from the other nations, to be His.
Haftara - 9 p'sukim -Amos 9:7-15
This short haftara really belongs to both Acharei and K'doshim. Whenever the sedras are read together (in all 12-month years), HALO CHIVNEI CHUSHIYIM is the haftara. In most of the year-types when the sedras are separated, one sedra or the other is a special — Rosh Chodesh or Machar Chodesh or HaGadol, in which case the special Shabbat gets a special haftara, and the other sedra gets HALO.
The haftara basically clarifies the "deal part" of the command to be holy. Amos stresses that we will be just like all other of G-d's children on Earth, no different from the Ethiopians, the Philistines, etc. That is, of course, if we don't remain faithful to G-d. Because if we do, and keep the mitzvot sincerely, then the promises of the Torah will be realized and we will be unique among the nations. It's really up to us. That's our challenge.
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