This week, we read the double parshah of Acharei Mos-Kedoshim, which is about Bnei Yisrael’s responsibility to be a holy nation and how to retain that status. Parshas Acharei Mos begins with a discussion of the service the Kohen Gadol performs on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is the most important day of the year for us, it is the day Hashem decides the fate of each and every person in the world. As Bnei Yisrael, our fate is most significant, therefore, every single detail on this day was carefully arranged by Hashem Himself to provide the greatest merit possible for each of us.
One of the first items the parshah discusses is the korbanos the Kohen Gadol would bring. The pasuk reads, “בְּזֹאת יָבֹא אַהֲרֹן אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ בְּפַר בֶּן בָּקָר לְחַטָּאת וְאַיִל לְעֹלָה” “With this Aharon shall enter the Holy: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering” (Vayikra 16:3). Later, the Torah adds two more korbanos, “וּמֵאֵת עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יִקַּח שְׁנֵי שְׂעִירֵי עִזִּים לְחַטָּאת וְאַיִל אֶחָד לְעֹלָה” “And from the community of the children of Yisrael, he (Aharon) shall take two he goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering” (16:5).
The medrash (Vayikra Raba 21:11) explains that the reason for these specific animals is explained through our history. In Parshas Vayeira, we are shown an example of the tremendous Hachnasas Orchim that Avraham provided his guests, as he rushed to prepare several oxen for the visiting angels. In order to invoke the merit of Avraham, Hashem commanded the Kohen to bring a bull. Yitzchak was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of Hashem by the famous episode of the Akeidah. We all know that an angel stopped Avraham from killing Yitzchak, and Avraham brought a ram instead. Therefore, we bring a ram to remind Hashem of the tremendous merit gained by Yitzchak. Lastly, Yaakov brought two kid-goats in order to have the blessings bestowed on him by his father. These blessings were integral to the growth and success of Bnei Yisrael both physically and spiritually. Therefore, we bring two goats to remind Hashem of the great merit of our father, Yaakov.
The medrash goes on to prove how each one of these stories actually happened on Yom Kippur! Therefore, they become even more fitting to use on this special day.
The Kli Yakar explains that the main point this medrash is bringing out is that no one, not even Moshe (See Shemos 4:5) can accomplish anything without the merit of our forefathers. Hashem wants nothing more than for us to come to Him on Yom Kippur with full hearts and ask for His forgiveness; and He is more than willing to grant it. However, not even the Kohen Gadol, the holiest man alive, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, in the holiest place on earth, the Kodesh Hakedoshim, can even begin to ask forgiveness without first acknowledging the greatness of our ancestors, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, who made all of it possible.
We should be constantly thanking Hashem for the opportunity to be born a Jew; we are the luckiest people in the world! Where else can you find such kindness, purity, modesty, dedication, and holiness than among the Jewish people. But when we take an admiring look around at everything our generation has accomplished, and think back to the previous generations who have paved the way, we must go all the way back, back to the times of the Avos and Imahos, who truly paved the way, and gave us guidance for how we live our lives until this very day.
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