The pasuk in Parshas Acharei Mos says, “For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to cleanse you, from all your sins before Hashem.” (Vayikra 16:30). The Ribono shel Olam gives us one day out of the entire year to be forgiven from all our sins and to achieve tahara (purity). A very famous Mishna at the end of Maseches Yoma states: “Rabbi Akiva says: Fortunate are you O Israel – before whom are you purified and who purifies you? Your Father in Heaven. As it is written, ‘I will sprinkle upon you pure waters’ – so too the Holy One Blessed be He purifies you.”
I recently received a sefer written by my fifth grade Rebbe, Rav Chaim Tzvi Hollander, entitled Zevach Mishpacha. Rabbi Hollander learned in the Telshe Yeshiva (Cleveland). He writes that they once heard a question from Rav Aharon Kotler: What is the meaning of “Ashreichem Yisrael” (fortunate are you O Israel) that the Ribono shel Olam washes you off and cleanses you? He asks, “Is this not a source of embarrassment and disgrace that the King of Kings needs to clean us off?”
Picture in your mind – someone becomes soiled and dirty. Should the king need to wash him off? Why is that “Ashreichem Yisrael?” The answer is your Father in Heaven. The Ribono shel Olam is not acting here as the King of Kings. He is acting as our Father in Heaven. Just like a father has no problem washing off a child who becomes dirty, and the child has no problem being washed by his father because that is what fathers do, so too, Israel is fortunate that they have this relationship with their Father in Heaven.
Then Rav Hollander makes a beautiful connection to a Gemara in Maseches Taanis (25b): There was an incident (during a time of drought) when Rabbi Eliezer led the tefilos. He recited 24 blessings (praying for rain) but he was not answered. Then Rabbi Akiva descended to lead the tefilos and said: “Our Father, our King, we have no King other than You. Our Father our King, for Your sake, have mercy upon us.” Then it began to rain. Rabbi Akiva’s prayer is in accordance with his opinion in Yoma that our relationship with the Master of the World is not only one of ‘our King,’ but it is also a relationship of ‘our Father.’
What is the source of the Avinu Malkeinu prayer? The one who instituted this prayer was none other than Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva may not have composed the entire Avinu Malkeinu – every stanza that we have today – but the essence of this tefilla is from Rabbi Akiva, as recorded in the Gemara in Taanis. Rabbi Akiva felt that the relationship between Klal Yisrael and the Ribono shel Olam is not only that of a Monarch-Subject, but also that of a Father-Child. It is Rabbi AKiva who teaches Ashreichem Yisrael – how lucky you are that you are cleansed by your Father in Heaven. In front of a father, there is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]
Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]
This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Achrei Mos – Kedoshim is provided below:
- #008 – Lifnei Ivair (Accessory to an Aveira)
- #052 – Prohibition Against Revenge
- #143 – Inviting the Non-0bservant to Your Shabbos Table
- #095 – The Mezonos Roll: Does it Exist?
- #190 – The Prohibition of Negiah
- #236 – The Do’s & Don’ts of Giving Tochacha
- #280 – “Lo Sa’amod Al Dam Re’echa”
- #326 – Mipnei Seiva Takum: Honoring the Elderly
- #370 – Desserts – Do They Require a Bracha?
- #414 – Giving An Injection to One’s Father
- #458 – Giving Tochacha: Private or Public
- #502 – Kisui Hadam
- #546 – Treating Mitzvos With Respect
- #590 – Sofaik Be’racha
- #634 – The Prohibitin of Hating Another Jew
- #678 – Tochacha – Is Ignorance Bliss?
- #722 – Stealling As a Practical Joke
- #766 – Making Shidduchim Among Non-Observant
- #810 – The Prohibition of Hating Another Jew
- #854 – Tattoos – Totally Taboo?
- #898 – Paying the Plumber and Babysitter
- #943 – Oy! They Shaved Off My Peyos
- #985 – Giving the Benefit of the Doubt – Always?
- #1029 – Should You Eat Bread In Order To Perform the Mitzva of Benthcing?
- #1074 – Paying for Someone’s Expensive Medical Treatment – Am I Obligated?
- #1116 – Eating Before Davening
- #1158 – “I Don’t Want You Spending Time With So-and-So”- Must a Child Listen to Parent?
- #1247 – The Kiruv Workers Dilemma: Inviting Non Shomer Shabbos for a Shabbos Meal
- #1289 – Performing Mitzvos During the Holocaust
- #1378 – Standing Up for One’s Parents – Why Don’t Most People Practice This Mitzvah?
- #1421 – A Capella Music During Sefira-Is There a Problem?
- #1422 – Giving Directions to a Jew Who Is Driving on Shabbos-Lifnei Ivair or Not? and Other Lifnei Ivair Shailos
- #1466 – Wearing Gloves While Performing a Mitzvah Is There a Problem?
- #1509 – Does the Mitzva of Tochacha Apply In Our Day?
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