This week, on the Reform calendar of Torah Readings, we revisit ParashatAcharei Mot where we read:
And it shall be a law for you forever: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and shall do no manner of work, the citizen, and the stranger that lives among you. For on this day Atonement shall be made for you, to cleanse you from all your sins… (Leviticus 16:29-30)
Wait a minute, Yom Kippur? We are just days past our Passover Seders. Why are we talking about Yom Kippur? But if you think about it, there is a tie that binds these two greatest holiday of the Jewish year – and that is Hunger.
On Yom Kippur we fast all day to remind ourselves of our pressing duty to redeem the world.We read from the great Haftarah of Isaiah:
Is it such a fast I asked for? A day to afflict your soul? To bow your head like a bulrush, to wear sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable unto God? … Rather, you shall give bread to the hungry and bring the poor into your house. (Isaiah 58:5-7)
This is why, on Yom Kippur, we collect food for the Hungry, so that those who fast every day simply because they haven’t enough food to eat might find sustenance.
On Passover, for one week, we eat Matzah – the poor bread, the bread of affliction, to remind ourselves that we are the descendants of slaves, that we were strangers in the land of Egypt, and so we say:“Let all who are hungry come and eat,” and we open our doors for Elijah, and we make contributions to Hunger organizations, so that through our remembrance we might become builders of a better world.
Parashat Acharei Mot is all about the Yom Kippur fast. Now, isn’t that the perfect Torah Portion to follow after Passover this year. Make a contribution to feed the hungry, so by our hands and our hearts we may be builders of a better world.