Parshas Acharei Mos-Kedoshim

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By Rabbi Shoime Lindenbaum

דבר אל אהרן אחיך ואל יבא בכל עת אל הקדש…בזאת יבא אהרן אל הקדש (פרק טז פסוק ב-ג)

As an introduction to the Yom Kippur service in the משכן, Hashem says that Aharon cannot frequent the קדש הקדשים (Holy of Holies), and only with the described service can he enter. Rashi, in one explanation, says that the command was just that Aharon shouldn’t often come to the קדש הקדשים, but he can come infrequently (even on days other than Yom Kippur), provided that he does the Yom Kippur service when he enters. The Vilna Gaon explains that this was a special allowance for Aharon alone, any other כהן גדול (High Priest) could only enter the קדש הקדשים on Yom Kippur. Aharon had a special privilege that he could enter with the service whenever he wants, but he was warned not to overuse it. R’ Aharon Leib Shteinman added that we can assume that although Aharon got this unique dispensation, he didn’t take advantage of it. He says that we are taught that learning Torah is more precious than pearls (פנינים) which חז”ל explain to mean that it is more precious than the כהן גדול entering the innermost chamber (לפני ולפנים). Therefore, as long as Aharon had the opportunity to be learning Torah, it would be logical that he didn’t use his privilege to enter the קדש הקדשים, rather he spent that time in the elevated and exalted pursuit of the study of Torah.

קדשים תהיו כי קדוש אני ה’…והייתם לי קדשים כי קדוש אני ה’ (פרק יט פסוק ב, פרק כ פסוק כו)

Both in the beginning and end of Parsahs Kedoshim, the Torah exhorts us to emulate Hashem specifically in the area of being holy (living elevated lives distanced from עריות and not chasing after worldly pleasures). The באר משה points out that every time the Torah tells us to be holy it spells the word חסר- lacking the letter “ו”, while every time it describes Hashem’s holiness that we are trying to emulate, it spells it מלא- full, with the “ו”. He says that this is to teach us that our holiness will always be lacking and Hashem’s holiness is always complete. This reminds us that we always have room to grow and regardless of how far we have come, we can always strive to be more similar to Hashem and live even holier lives.

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