Communal Responsibility

*Leviticus 16:1 – 20:27

This week’s double portion of Acharei Mot/Kedoshim draws our attention to the balance between communal and personal responsibility. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, addresses both personal and communal sin, repentance, and atonement, publicly.

What is the lesson?

While there is great comfort in private confession, holiness is a communal endeavor, as the word, “you shall be holy,” “you” is plural – the community. This is the honing of personal ethics, based on the ethical norms of the Torah, by communal association.

As James writes, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas. 5:16).

In this we find personal responsibility, as well as, communal accountability.

The beauty of our reading is that we recognize personal and communal shortcoming, while endeavoring to turn the page of renewal together, as we trust in the Messiah, Who is the “the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

Shabbat shalom.

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