Newsletter                April 30, 2015 - 11 Iyar, 5755 

Young woman in shirt sitting in chair on rock top

  From Top, Down 

The nation had quieted from the traumatic deaths of Nadav and Avihu (See "The First Step"), and God instructed Moses, and through him, Aaron, in the Temple Service on Yom Kippur. "He shall bring atonement upon the Holy of Holies, and he shall bring atonement upon the Tent of Meeting and the Altar, and upon the Cohanim and upon all the people of the congregation shall he bring atonement (Leviticus 16:33)." The first atonement listed is for the holiest place on earth, the Holy of Holies. The Kohen Gadol, High Priest, first atones for himself, then the other Cohanim, and then for the people. Atonement begins at the top.


No wonder when King David expresses, "One thing I request of God, only that shall I seek, that I may dwell in the House of God all the days of my life, to behold the pleasantness of God, and to meditate in His Sanctuary (Psalms 27:4)," he includes, u'livaker b'Heichalo, to carefully examine His Sanctuary. The king must examine even God's Sanctuary. When King David would find an area in Israel that lacked goodness, he immediately turned to God's Sanctuary; the way spiritual lessons were being transmitted to identify the fault in the transmission from the top, God's Sanctuary, to the people. He did not begin by rebuking the people he perceived as weak in their observance. He did not start his research with those who were spiritually weak. He began by examining God's House. The examination begins at the top.


We can listen to words of instruction from those who understand that both atonement and examination begin in the holiest places and within the most powerful people. We are instructed, "You shall be holy, for holy am I, God, your Lord (Leviticus 19:2)." Holiness begins at the top, with God. Only those who live in a society, in which the holiest and most powerful seek atonement and examine them, can begin the process of becoming holy.


We can criticize those who do not observe the instructions in the portion of Kedoshim, "Building A Society of Holy Individuals," but we will not find answers unless we examine the top and bring atonement for those who stand above the nation in holiness and power.


Rabbis, teachers, and parents, wonder why so many children are rejecting the precious lessons they learned in school and home. In this week's double portion we are reminded that the answers begin at the top, in the schools, in the teachers, in the parents, in the rabbis.


Atonement begins at the top. The examination begins at the top. Holiness begins at the top. The answers can be found at the top of the ladder. We need only remember where to look. Perhaps we will find atonement, and through that, holiness.



Shabbat Shalom,



Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg 

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