Torah: This Shabbat the Torah reading is Ahrei Mot, which we also read on Yom Kippur. Among the topics are the multiple sin offerings that culminated in sending the scapegoat bearing the people’s sins to die in the desert. In our tradition, Yom Kippur is a moment to reassess our past and to start anew. And yet, we do not wait for Yom Kippur to reflect on how we have missed the mark and how we might improve. In our thrice-daily amidah prayer, which outlines the process of enabling a redeemed world, we pause to beat on our chest with the words, “selach lanu avinu ki hatanu”- “forgive us our Divine parent because we have sinned.” At the completion of that prayer, we traditionally sit, place our head on our left arm, and read further supplications for forgiveness. The goal is not to diminish ourselves, but to elevate us. This Shabbat when we read of Yom Kippur, we are reminded that each day is an opportunity to become more fully human, more fully identified with the hopes and expectations of our Divine parent.
Rabbi Morty Leifman, z’l. Rabbi Leifman passed away yesterday. I loved him. He was a spiritual giant. He spent two Shabbatot at CBI, during which time I got to know him more closely. When I would go to NYC, I would visit with him. He served as a Vice-President at the Jewish Theological Seminary and as the head of the Cantorial school. He knew so much Judaism and loved telling colorful stories of his teachers, both elevating and humanizing them. He touched and inspired with a big heart and much wisdom. I share with you a tribute by his beloved friend, Rabbi Jack Riemer.