Rabbi David Schneider’s Weekly Words of Wisdom 14: Acharei Mos

achareimot042(Leviticus 16-18)

First of all, I must apologise for last week’s article. I personally don’t feel I need to, but our glorious comrade leader Herr Editor feels I “must”. So I’m very sorry if some of the things I wrote may have been interpreted as offensive and distasteful by certain empty-headed, easily offended, dimwitted morons who like to read the JC while eating and found that reading about a harmless, hideous, leprous-like skin disease which is making my life a living gehenem put them off some extortionately expensive pastry that’s probably full of seafood and sweetened with concentrated pig.

There. A full and frank apology. Happy now?

On then to this week’s parsha, which describes the High Priest on Yom Kippur, dressed in simple white, alone in the Sanctuary, face to face with G-d. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all try and be like the High Priest on Yom Kippur every day of the year. And by that I don’t mean we should all dress in white, which stains easily. No. Like him, we should always make sure we are not distracted by other people, by events around us, that we stay face to face with our Creator.

Aaron would not have been put off by the anxious prayers of the people or the howling of the desert winds or an email to the JC from “Very Concerned Rabbi (Orthodox), North London”, who alleges that by asserting last week that the Torah isn’t referring to a literal skin disease but a metaphorical one, I’ve shown that I don’t believe in Torah min hashomayim, that the Torah is literally the word of G-d. I should therefore be publicly stripped of my Rabbinical position, JC column and “Thought for the Day” for Radio 4. His further idea that this stripping should involve the public shearing off of my beard and payes, followed by a ceremonial fist punching a hole through the top of my Rabbinical hat, all of which he’s happy to video and post on the internet, proves who Very Concerned Rabbi (Orthodox) is, as if we had any doubts: the Very Envious and Twisted Rabbi (about as Orthodox as the Cheeky Girls), Rabbi F.

So you want to talk literal, Rabbi F? OK, how about this? I must be the first man since the destruction of the Temple who has literally used the cure for the skin ailment tsora’as as prescribed in the Bible literally. I literally got the cedar wood and the scarlet yarn and the running water and have you any idea how hard it is to find hyssop nowadays? And I got two birds and slaughtered one then dipped the other in its blood, and the disappearance of those pigeons from the coop on top of the house next door to the synagogue was merely coincidental, and anyway with the amount of droppings that fall on the cheder kids when they stand near that wall at playtime, the owner doesn’t have a leg to stand on. I did all this because I believe at least three times more literally than Rabbi F. Maybe even four times because I’m taller than him and therefore, literally, closer to G-d.

But back to the parsha. Where was I? Oh, yes. Don’t get distracted. Keep your eye on the ball. Especially if that ball is a football being kicked directly at your face by a seven-year-old half-boy half-tank called Space who’s shouting “Stranger danger!” at you when all you were doing was trying to raise him up through Torah by reading to him from this week’s parsha as he played in the park. Not the bit about the High Priest and Yom Kippur, of course. It’s important to teach kids at their level, to know what’s appropriate, so I chose the bit about adultery and homosexuality being an abomination, and how bestiality was as well, which also takes in his mother the builder, my wife’s lover, because she’s built like a buffalo and looks like one too.

Still, at least after weeks trying to sleep in a cramped synagogue cupboard I finally got a good night’s rest. Those police cells –  tam ganeyden, a taste of paradise.

This article first appeared in The Jewish Chronicle.

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