In the Jewish tradition, the Five Books of the Torah are read sequentially during the course of the year, divided into sections called parshiot, or “portions”. Every week, synagogues the world over read the same portion of the Torah and this shared scripture reading helps unify the Jewish people.
This week, we are reading a so-called “double portion” entitled Acharei Mot-Kedoshim.” There are certain times of the year when two portions are read in tandem, and this week is one of those occasions.
Acharei Mot-Kedoshim is a double portion that comprises several chapters of the Book of Leviticus. Translated into English, it reads “After the Death” and “Holiness”. “After the Death refers to the sudden and horrific demise of the sons of Aaron in a ball of flame after they approach God’s altar in an inappropriate manner. “Holiness” refers to a section of Leviticus which commands the Israelites to live in a holy and ethical manner.
This order of the Torah portions takes on new significance this week. We watched in horror as smoke and flame erupted on the streets of Boston, bringing death in its wake. Yet immediately followed holiness, as hundreds ran towards the smoke and debris. Immediately followed holiness, as exhausted runners ran on to donate blood. Immediately followed holiness, as doctors and nurses on the scene saved countless lives.
To contribute to assist victims, the City of Boston has set up the OneFundBoston.org.