05 May Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Acharei Mot – 5776
This Shabbat we read from Parashat Acharei Mot, from which we also get the Torah reading for both Shacharit and Mincha of Yom Kippur. The reading from Shacharit, the morning service, talks in specific detail about the ritual of Yom Kippur that was done at the Tabernacle. It was this ritual with the two goats that was then converted into a Temple ritual and eventually became the basis for the liturgy we have today when we recall those rituals during the Avodah service on Yom Kippur. The actions taken by the High Priest in ancient times were meant to absolve the Israelites of sin, just as we stand before God in our own time but with words of prayer as opposed to sacrifice. Despite that clear and important difference, it is a moment where we can plainly see the transition our religion has gone through during its long history – taking a ritual and tracking it through the millennia. I have no doubt that thousands of years from now, the Yom Kippur rituals will have developed even further and people will look back at our Day of Atonement and the ways we practice now.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik