Acharei Mot: The Map

Keep My laws and guard My statutes to walk in them… (Vayikra 18:4)

When we walk in Your ways
we need a good map
to navigate obstacles,
to warn us of paths
leading nowhere.

That’s what You gave us,
but we need to re-read it,
study what’s meant
as we gaze at the landscape,
the rocky ascent.

The Ktav Sofer* (Al HaTorah, Vayikra, 18:4) and Tallelei Orot** in the name of the Ktav Sofer (Vayikra, 18:4), wonder what the phrase “to walk in them” adds to the command to keep God’s laws. They contrast the word “to walk (or go)” with that used about angels who are described as “standing”: “The Serafim stand opposite him.”(Isaiah 6:2). The Ktav Sofer teaches that the use of the word standing with regard to the angels means that they remain stationary in their spiritual level – there is no concept of spiritual growth. In contrast, the Torah, we are being told, is a gateway to a state of “going,” facilitating an ascent in the spiritual level of those who walk in its ways.

*Rav Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer (1815–1871) was the eldest son of the Chatam Sofer the famed Rabbi of Pressburg, who was the leader of Hungarian Jewry and one of the leading Rabbis of European Jewry. His mother Sarel was the daughter of Rabbi Akiva Eger, Rabbi of Posen, one the greatest Talmudic scholars of his time. When his father died the Katav Sofer succeeded him as Rabbi of Pressburg and when the Ktav Sofer died, his son Rabbi Simcha Bunim Sofer known as the Shevet Sofer followed him into the position. The Ktav Sofer is known for his commentary on the Chumash, as well as for his Responsa on the Shulchan Aruch and a commentary on the tractate of Gittin.

**Rav Yissachar Dov Rubin (1962-2008), a contemporary rabbi who died prematurely, was well-known both for his kindly ways, reaching out to the sick and the needy, as well as for his scholarship. A prolific author of some 40 books, he started to write his first volume at age 13 and published it some 11 years later (Orot HaGr”a) and subsequently he published further books every year. Tallelei Orot – a commentary on the Torah is possibly his most well-known work but he also wrote commentaries on prayer and other subjects. His works have been translated into English and French and he left material for some further 20 books which were published posthumously. He also spent much time teaching Torah.


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