Achare Mot/ Kedoshim

How do we prepare for anything of importance in our life? 

First we must prepare ourselves physically and mentally. 

Physically, we put on our gear. 

Mentally, we need a specific mindset.

It is clear that one type of preparation without the other, does not work. 

We actually need both mental and physical preparation for success in anything important in our life.

Our heart should be aligned with our mind. 

It is like the Jewish concept of KAVANAH:

KAVANAH is the Hebrew word for having the intention, 

or inner connection to what we are doing. 

To do this, we need focus and preparation, 

And training is part of the preparation, and 

it is equivalent to the Hebrew word KEVAH.

The partner of KAVANAH is KEVAH, 


KAVANAH ( intention)


KEVAH ( routine ) the fixed and external parts,

Most things that we do with 

kevah, the external preparations, 

and kavanah, the internal intention,

will have a good outcome. 

How can we have one without the other?

In this week's parasha, 

Acharei Mot, 

we read about the rules for Aaron, the High Priest, when he entered the Holy of Holies to get rid of his sins and the sins of the Israelites.

There are many details in the way Aaron physically prepares to enter this holy place. These preparations are external; they are the kevah. 

• Aaron had to put on linen clothing, 

• The fire had to be built in a specific way. 

• He had to sacrifice the bull for atonement of his sins and to sprinkle the bull’s blood on the altar facing the direction toward G-D, sprinkling 7 times. 

All these details were G-d’s directions and they had to be followed specifically or else Aaron would die like his children had. 

Aaron’s sons died for lighting an unauthorized ‘strange fire’ !

G-d also had specific instructions on how to atone for the sins of the Israelites. 

Aaron had to place a lot for the two goats. 

One of the goats was to be for G-d, and the other for Azazel. 

G-d's goat later got sacrificed, 

while the goat marked for Azazel was taken to the wilderness and set free,

This goat carried all the Israelites’ sins.

• What is the internal aspect, 

the kavanah, 

of all these detailed preparations? 

• Why did Aaron have to put on linen clothing, why not leather? 

• What about the goat for Azazel? 

Don’t you think that it is wrong for a goat to carry sins that he didn’t even do? 

We live in a world of personalresponsibility. 

• Aren’t we accountable for our own wrongdoings? 

• So, what is the meaning of all this? 

• Where is the internal meaning, the kavanah in all of these rituals?

The Kavanah comes from our inner-self. 

We are accountable for our own sins. 

G-d probably chose a goat because the goat doesn’t know any better and it doesn’t affect him either, 

he is just going by his instincts. 

The goat was an object for the Israelites to look deeper into themselves and repent.

This parasha is telling us that as long as we really do repent for our sins, then we might be forgiven. 

If you are not repenting from our inner-self, then it is like wasted time and wasted words. 

So as for Azazel’s goat, 

G-d’s intention was to let us know that we can be free of our sins if we repent and really mean it.

The special rituals and sacrifices in this parasha were the external kevah.

The genuine repentant feelings of the High Priest, and of the people of Israel, were the internal kavanah. 

Both kevah and kavanah need each other to co-exist in a balance.

G-d does not care about the offerings from the sacrifices unless the Israelites fear G-d and truly repent for their sins. 

So, G-d wanted a repentance that came from the Israelites hearts, a repentance done with Kavanah.

The Israelites are defrauding G-d, 

but if they turn to G-d, 

then G-d will turn to them: 

“Shuvu Ely veashuva Aleichem.” 

We all prepare for things of importance in our lives. 

Some of us only do the external kevah at times without showing intention. 

Some of us might only have the passion, the kavanah, for things without taking the time for external preparation and all of the details. 

Freedom is important because we have and we want free will. 

This free will gives us the choice of how to prepare, and it gives us options to put our passion into things.

In this parashah, Aaron receives instructions for Yom Kippur. 

G-d tells Aaron that the sacrifices for his sins, and the sins of Israel, will be replaced by a Day of Atonement.  

We need limitations, and we also need to repent when we break them.

The limitations are like the kevah, they are at many times external people or rules telling us how to behave. 

Our free will to choose how we will live, and our ability to think or feel guilty for our wrong-doings is like our Kavanah. 

So in a way, freedom and repentance need each other to co-exist, just like Keva and Kavanah.

As Jewish people, we have learned to prepare both internally and externally, 

in other words:

to feel the Kavanah

and to do the Kevah, 

for what we do in our life.  

I hope we all understood that Aaron’s preparation in today’s Parasha needed to be accompanied by the true feeling of repentance that comes from Kavanah.