Parshat Acharei: After Words

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16 Apr 2008
Arts & Media

These words come after.


The sophisticated might call them Experience;

Let us call them After Words:

Words that cannot be denied, because

They come post-event and are privy to

The mistakes of the past so they can

Inform the present and the future.


Or, for all intensive purposes

(And grownup grammar school nerds):

Present tense built on past tension.


After the death of

Aharon’s two sons

When they approached…


One would think approaching the face of G-d

Would be a good think: isn’t this every soul’s dream

(Or, if we were more philosopher than artist, raison d’être)

To thirst for the Divine, to yearn for the Truth?


Isn’t this why we are born?


He shall not come

At all times

To the holy…


People have died with holy intentions.

His own two sons, people of greatness,

Were consumed by their own passion.


But passion really isn’t the issue here –

We all know how to want, how to yearn;

It’s easy to wish to get high, to want to get holy,

It’s easy walking through the curtain –


What’s hard is walking back out.


Our challenge isn’t coming to the Holy.

Our challenge is coming away from it.

(Channeling it.)


But to know how to come to and away from

The Holy of Holies

We first must know how not to come to it.


The Holy of Holies: a place of Reality.

And a place of Reality does not tolerate

False pretenses or unnatural smiles.


The only way to enter the holiest is if we

Are the holiest. The only way to be the

Holiest is if it’s not about us: he shall not

Come at all times, not when he wants to

Come to the Holy of Holies; only when

The Holy of Holies wants him to come to it.


With this shall

Aharon come…


We must come in peace

In order to leave in peace.


We must come complete

In order to leave complete.


If it’s for a fix that we come –

We will leave so broken.

If it’s for a high that we come –

We will leave so low.


With this shall we come:

With our purity, our humility;

We shall come not to come close,

But because we are close.


There is only one High Priest

And he can only enter once a year.

But we must learn.

Even when we enter our own Holy of Holies

Even when we are so high, so holy,

We must remember another’s pain,

We must know that it’s not about our

Selves but about the Holiest of all Holies


After Words:

After the death of Aharon’s two sons –

Let us live and be holy.

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.