Times: Shabbat starts tonight with candle lighting at 4:50pm, and ends Saturday night at 5:52pm. The weekly Torah portion is Chukat.

Mincha in the CBD: Friday mincha is currently on recess and will resume on 20 July. Mincha (Mon-Thu) continues next week at 1.00pm with the SMS reminder.

Study: The Wednesday shiur & lunch continues this week at Billing Bureau, following 1.00pm mincha..

Thought of the Week with thanks to Isaac Balbin. We are taught that the death of Aaron the High Priest, as related in this week’s Torah reading, in a manner similar to his Holy vestments, atoned for the sins of the Jewish people. The notion of death serving also as an atonement for one’s *own* sins is palatable. The idea that a leader’s death atones for *other* people is perturbing. One can deduce that this notion of “death atoning for sin” is the source for a well-known religion’s tenet that “Jesus saves”. What is the meaning of this phenomenon and how does it work?

Aaron’s death, and indeed the death of any Tzadik (righteous person) does indeed atone, but it does not atone through some automatic death-triggered reality. The true Tzadik is comprehended more after their death than during their lifetime. By nature, the Tzadik does not spruik or seek to display the gamut of good deeds and breathtaking wisdom which underpinned their life. Only after departing this world, when people gather personal stories of interaction and build a mosaic of the Tzadik’s pre-eminence, does the full bearing of their God-derived persona become conspicuous. Indeed, once the mosaic takes form, that in of itself is not the atonement.

Rather, the fuller picture serves as a catalyst to effect atonement. Like the holy vestments, it is only when they are used in the service for which they have been designated are they able to draw down commensurate holiness from above. So it is with we, who in each generation sadly witness the passing of great luminaries. Over time, we witness a more fulsome tapestry of greatness take form. Are we inspired to the extent that we improve our own adherence to the laws between man and man, and man and God? If so, we will have achieved the desired atonement. The passing of Aaron left an enormous void which catalysed exactly such action.

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