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Acharei Mot

Acharei Mot

5 Facts About Parshat Acharei Mot that You (Maybe) You Didn't Know

Published on Thursday June 10th, 2021

Discover and learn every week, "5 Facts" written on the weekly Parsha that you can share at your Shabbos table.


וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר ה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה אַחֲרֵ֣י מ֔וֹת שְׁנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י אַהֲרֹ֑ן בְּקָרְבָתָ֥ם לִפְנֵי־ה וַיָּמֻֽתוּ׃

The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they drew too close to the presence of the LORD.

Why the need to mention that they died?

  • The word “Vayamutu/and they died” seems to be unnecessary since the beginning of the verse already mentions their deaths. It, therefore, comes to teach us that they died 2 deaths:  an actual physical death and the “death” of childlessness.


בְּזֹ֛את יָבֹ֥א אַהֲרֹ֖ן אֶל־הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ בְּפַ֧ר בֶּן־בָּקָ֛ר לְחַטָּ֖את וְאַ֥יִל לְעֹלָֽה׃

Thus only shall Aaron enter the Shrine: with a bull of the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.

What are the 3 ways to nullify a negative heavenly decree?

  • There are 3 ways to nullify a negative heavenly decree: through Tzom (fasting/repentance), Kol (prayer), and Mamon (money/tzedaka). Each of these words has the numerical value of 136, thereby totaling 408, which is the numerical value of the word “zot”. This teaches us that with these 3 “things” one can become close to Hashem.



כְּתֹֽנֶת־בַּ֨ד קֹ֜דֶשׁ יִלְבָּ֗שׁ וּמִֽכְנְסֵי־בַד֮ יִהְי֣וּ עַל־בְּשָׂרוֹ֒ וּבְאַבְנֵ֥ט בַּד֙ יַחְגֹּ֔ר וּבְמִצְנֶ֥פֶת בַּ֖ד יִצְנֹ֑ף בִּגְדֵי־קֹ֣דֶשׁ הֵ֔ם וְרָחַ֥ץ בַּמַּ֛יִם אֶת־בְּשָׂר֖וֹ וּלְבֵשָֽׁם׃

He shall be dressed in a sacral linen tunic, with linen breeches next to his flesh, and be girt with a linen sash, and he shall wear a linen turban. They are sacral vestments; he shall bathe his body in water and then put them on.

What do the 4 white garments of the Cohen Gadol represent?

  • The Cohen Gadol had 2 sets of clothing: a golden set and a white set, each of which was made up of 4 garments. When seeking forgiveness for the people, the Cohen would always wear his white clothes. This is because gold clothes would remind Hashem of the sin of the Golden Calf, which would be very inauspicious when seeking forgiveness. As the Sages teach us: A prosecutor cannot become a defender.
  • The 4 white garments symbolize the 4 camps of angels that serve Hashem.
  • The Kittel worn on Yom Kippur is intended to be reminiscent of the Cohen Gadol’s white garments.


וְכִלָּה֙ מִכַּפֵּ֣ר אֶת־הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ וְאֶת־אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵ֖ד וְאֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּ֑חַ וְהִקְרִ֖יב אֶת־הַשָּׂעִ֥יר הֶחָֽי׃

When he has finished purging the Shrine, the Tent of Meeting, and the altar, the live goat shall be brought forward.

When and why was the red wool string custom terminated?

  • There was once a custom for people to attach a red wool string to their windows on Erev Yom Kippur. Some of these strings who turn white, while others would remain red, thereby embarrassing the members of the household. The custom was therefore terminated and a red string was hung only on the doors of the Heichal, inside the Ulam. This too was eventually terminated since it sometimes remained red which upset many people. In the end, they would only attach it to the rock from which the goat would be thrown down.


וְסָמַ֨ךְ אַהֲרֹ֜ן אֶת־שְׁתֵּ֣י ידו [יָדָ֗יו] עַ֨ל רֹ֣אשׁ הַשָּׂעִיר֮ הַחַי֒ וְהִתְוַדָּ֣ה עָלָ֗יו אֶת־כָּל־עֲוֺנֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאֶת־כָּל־פִּשְׁעֵיהֶ֖ם לְכָל־חַטֹּאתָ֑ם וְנָתַ֤ן אֹתָם֙ עַל־רֹ֣אשׁ הַשָּׂעִ֔יר וְשִׁלַּ֛ח בְּיַד־אִ֥ישׁ עִתִּ֖י הַמִּדְבָּֽרָה׃

Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their sins, putting them on the head of the goat; and it shall be sent off to the wilderness through a designated man.

What would the Cohen Gadol do right after Yom Kippur as a special commemoration?

At the conclusion of Yom Kippur, the High Priest would go to a goldsmith to have a golden tablet made and engraved with the date that he served in the Temple and a prayer that his son is worthy of performing the service. There would also be a prayer for mercy for the nation engraved on it, as well.

Eytan Yéhouda DZIKOWSKI - © Torah-Box Account

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