Parshas Acharei Mos-Kedoshim

Iyar 12, 5775
May 1, 2015

Pandora’s Box

By Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum

The High Priest appeared regal in his special attire when he performed the different services in the Beis Hamikdash. The underlying theme of his illustrious apparel was not a fashion display rather it was to augment the prominence of his appearance in the Beis Hamikdash thereby enhancing the entire performance of his duties. However, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year an unusual modification of his garb occurred. When he served in his capacity of High Priest on the outside area of the Beis Hamikdash, he wore his regular priestly garments. But when he performed his duties inside the Beis Hamikdash he only wore white linen priestly garments. Rashi cites the Talmud that explains that the regular priestly clothing contained golden fibers amongst the others and this would ‘remind’ Hashem of the golden calf fiasco that had transpired when Moshe failed to return on time. The dictum which obligated this change of clothing is referred to as ‘the prosecutor cannot perform as the defense attorney.’ Since we are seeking Divine forgiveness on that holy day it warrants that we should not incite the Heavenly court to become accusatory with a reminder of the golden calf episode. This seemingly obvious approach requires a deeper understanding. After all, just because a few golden threads are present when the High Priest is bringing the sacrifices on Yom Kippur that shouldn’t be such a critical action. There should be other factors that need to be taken into account, such as our repentance as a whole and are we reassessing our path in life and attempting to improve our lifestyle.

It is difficult and truly beyond our comprehension to envision the intense concentration required by the High Priest as he was engaged in his duties on Yom Kippur. He is connecting with Hashem in a sphere of linkage that borders on the superhuman. Specifically when he enters the Holy of Holies on that special day he must be totally focused on creating a bond between the nation and Hashem in such a fashion that will enable us to gain forgiveness for a year of mistakes and folly. Due to its involvement in the golden calf tragedy, gold became associated with sin and its included depravity. When the High Priest would enter into the internal areas of the Beis Hamikdash, the gold would serve to divert his attention from the importance of the matters that he is engaged in and therefore create a distraction that would potentially ruin our chance to receive a full atonement. Rav Dessler writes that this is the meaning that the prosecutor will not serve in the capacity of a defense attorney.

Of course, the High Priest indeed intends to create an atmosphere of holiness and sacredness during the Yom Kippur service with all its immense detail. However, that ambiance will shatter when faced with the inner struggle of man to escape from his indulgence in sin which has created a barrier between him and Hashem. Now, when the sinner is attempting to emerge from the depths of his corruption and regain his footing and reconnoiter a path that will allow him to serve Hashem with purity and vision, this moment of clarity is imperiled.

This is the road that the Evil Inclination employs to deter us from our goal of advancing the proper goals and objectives in life. Our aim must be to establish a course free of obstacles that can undo our progress and hinder our future accomplishments. Although in the past we may have stumbled we can plan to walk into our potential prospects if we plan accordingly and eliminate those roadblocks that may block our progress.


A Byte for Shabbos

Shabbos is referred to as the bride and we, the Jewish nation are the bridegroom. If the choson honors and treats the bride respectfully, then the father-in-law will shower him with gifts and bless Shabbos.

– from the CHOFETZ CHAIM