Friday, 3 May, 2024 - 4:29 pm

I visited an elderly member of Boise’s Jewish community today in the hospital. We chatted a bit and then we said the Shema. The doctors indicated that his health was deteriorating, but he was in good spirits.

An hour after I left I received word from his family that he had passed. Although he was in poor health, it still seemed sudden.

I was thankful that I was able to say some prayers with him and offer him and his family support in his final moments.


This week’s Torah portions is called Acharei Mot, or “after the death,” based on the opening verse, “And G-d spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron's two sons, when they drew near before the L-rd, and they died.”

Why do we name a Torah portion in such a fashion? What message is there in this name that the Torah wishes to convey?

Much ink has been spilled on the meaning of death, the effects of tragedy and the Jewish approach to mourning. Certainly there are lessons to be learned from the death of Aaron’s two sons. But the Torah’s emphasis on after death, versus death itself must mean more.


What people leave behind are legacies of friends and descendants inspired by their lives and following in their footsteps.  As it is written in Ecclesiastes, “And the living shall take to heart.”

Our parsha is teaching that there is another dimension besides the after-life. The after-life is the eternal journey of the soul in ‘heaven.’  But what influence does the soul have here on earth?

That’s the after-death.  Aaron’s two sons taught a great lesson to mankind through their passing.

I’m certain he left a legacy that continues here on earth beyond his bodily years.

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