The Torah portion, or parasha, this week depends on whether seven or eight days are celebrated for Passover. For those celebrating eight days, the Torah portion is still on Pesach and is from Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17 where God commands the Israelites to: (1) eat meat only of Kosher animals, (2) set aside tithes from flocks and field to consecrate to God and to ensure that the Levites who served in the temple also had food, (3) to pay back debts every seven years and to take care of those who are less fortunate, and (4) remember they were once slaves in Egypt. Then God commands them to celebrate Passover.
For those celebrating seven days of Passover, Acharei-Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:30) is divided into two parts and the first part is read this week. This weeks’ portion discusses the Yom Kippur rituals for the high priests and Moses tells the people that animals, whether they were intended for food or as sacrifices, were to be slaughtered only at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, rather than outside the camp, and that they were strictly forbidden to eat blood since it represented the life force.
Both Torah portions outline the importance of rituals that set things apart for holy purposes, put us right with God, and engages in actions that respect and preserve life. Deuteronomy focuses that respect for life in the choice of the food we eat and in how we treat others. Leviticus addresses respect for life in how and where the animals are slaughtered and in the prohibition of eating blood. As we conclude the Passover season, may we continue to look for ways to respect life, to take care of others with fewer resources than what we have, and to bring a little holiness to the world around us.