The New Shul

Parshat Aharei Mot

This week’s parashah, Aharei Mot, describes the service of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, on Yom Kippur in the days when the Temple stood. The parashah opens with God’s warning to Aaron and his sons not to enter the Holy of Holies except on that one day, and except with extraordinary preparation, because “in a cloud I appear [above the ark].”

Rabbi Meir Shapira of Lublin understood those words as a promise, not a warning. He interpreted them to mean that, even when the sky is at its cloudiest, God can still appear to us. Even when the world is at its darkest, God can still be found.

Today, the 27th of Nisan, is Yom Hashoah, the day on which we remember the victims of the Holocaust. One of the most important ways in which we honor them is by recalling that so many of them refused to surrender their humanity even under the most dehumanizing circumstances. Only a small number had the means to resist physically, but a much greater number resisted spiritually. They did so by refusing to give up their dignity as human beings, and their compassion for each other, even as they lost control of everything else. They refused to let the darkness around them obscure their tzelem elohim, the image of God that they embodied. In that way they exemplified what Rabbi Meir Shapira taught: that God’s presence can be visible even in the darkest cloud.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service is from 9 am to about 11:45 am. Now that Maricopa County is in the “Green Zone” (low Covid risk), masks are optional during our services.
  • This Shabbat, April 30, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Gershon Yaniv in memory of his wife Daphna.
  • Weekday minyanim at The New Shul are on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm, and on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am. Kabbalat Shabbat is on Friday evenings at 6 pm at our rabbis’ home (please contact us for directions).