Acharei Mot: Going above and beyond is not always the better choice. – by Barbara Heller

Acharei Mot: Literal translation means “After Death”.


Definitely a foreign fire.

The “Death” referred to here is the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu whereas, in Parshat Shemini, decided to take the law into their own hands and sacrifice beyond the time and place allotted.

And the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, when they drew near before the Lord, and they died. (Vayikra 16:1)

Going above and/or beyond the law is not always the better choice. The road of good intentions is sometimes bumpy and full of debt, bad break ups, and break outs. But hopefully, we can learn from the deaths or mis-fortune of others and if we’re wise enough take a path that is more kadosh, (or separated) from that which is not the best for us. The difficulty in olam ha ze (this physical world) is making the path our own and full of joy when we are trying to follow a deemed kosher blueprint.

Especially living in a society where as the above video portrays quite humorously, we’re surrounded by a budding generation of kids who believe if they just say it, will it, or believe it millions of dollars and fame will come to them as they sit in Starbucks drinking their lattes and getting high.

I was talking with a Police Officer this morning about how nowadays many people believe police people or laws are the enemy and led mostly by how they feel on any given day. We can’t always follow what we feel otherwise we may stay in bed way too long and not accomplish our life’s purpose. The Torah is full of law, or as I like to think of it, a recipe fashioned by G-d given over to Moses and the Israelites in order to reflect a big light to the rest of the world. A recipe to make us all into our biggest happiest most peaceful and fulfilled shining lights to make the world a better place.

It made me sad that the police officer gets sneered at while he’s trying to only protect those around him. I’m not saying that all police officers are perfect people and only to do good. But, I would challenge those who think they’re all bad and that the practice itself of having laws to protect us isn’t a great thing. I’ve had the privilege of living in 12 different countries all for at least about a month or so and I’ve seen some corruption and terrible things happen without democracy accompanied by simple civil laws. Please note that most of the civil laws we know of today got their start in Judeo-Christian law.

Main points from this parsha.

This parsha tackles a few important laws dealing with, pardon the vulgar connotation, things that could/should/shouldn’t go inside of us.

1) It is forbidden to bring a korban (sacrifice), anywhere but in the Holy Temple. 2) It is forbidden to eat blood in any way (this is why all kosher meat is salted– to take out the blood, and why we check eggs for blood before using); and 3) a discussion of those who we are forbidden to marry.


  1.  The Korban (sacrificial animals) mustn’t be kept anywhere except inside of the Holy Temple. This is a place within the metaphysical heart of the Jewish people. We don’t get to choose to put that Temple just anywhere. There is an actual physical place where this Temple belongs. Rav Kook once said about the land of Israel;
    “It will enflame every heart and exalt every spirit, sanctifying and encouraging everyone.” (Moadei Harayah, pp. 419-20) And “the magnificent light of its Torah, the glorious light of its wisdom, and the holy spirit effervescent within it.” (Eretz Cheifetz, p. 38)In other words, The land of Israel is like a battery pack for the Jewish people and when we’re there we are re-charged in a way that no other physical place can re-charge us.


  2. We are advised not to eat un-kosher meat for several reasons but one of the biggest is due to the blood that is not carefully taken out of most meats and eggs before being served. We don’t want to put un-pure substances inside of our body. We also don’t want to eat animals who had unlawful treatment including dying in a distressed state. I’m not saying here that all kosher meat is always abiding by these laws. That’s why we have organizations like Uri L’Tzedek around to keep abiding by the Torah laws when it comes to kashrut and how we treat and educate the workers within our farms and butcheries. But without laws we don’t have a starting place to keep things in line.


  3. When it comes to sexuality I’m not here to speak out against any love between two human beings. Love is love. What I am out to talk about here though is that monogamy is pretty explicit in these words and the idea that there is one partner in your life who will enhance your life so that you may grow into the best human that you can be. This teaching for me is less about the physicality of what we put into our bodies (again please excuse the vulgarity) but instead what we do with our time-whom we spend out most valuable precious hours of the day with, whom we let into our hearts/minds/souls.Are you marrying someone because its convenient? Because that person will look good on your arm when you walk into the Gala Fundraiser? Or is this the person you share the most goals and values and movie quotes with? Is this the person who makes you laugh at yourself when you’re being foolish or lazy? Is this the person who gets you better than anybody you ever dated before? This is the kind of love that I am after and have sought for over 15 years of crazy shidduch dates/singles events/and therapy sessions. The Torah speaks of this kind of love. Maybe not specifically in a law like “thou must find-eth the person who shares the same love of movies with” but if there were movies when this was given out you better believe it probably would’ve been in there.

We just got out of Egypt as a people. We finally have our freedom and I don’t know about you but I can feel in the air there’s been a shift in terms of breaking free within my life (albeit by force in most cases) of the things that are not good for me and keep me locked up in chains in some way. Whatever these things are for you, take a deep breath, stand up in a vav (the Hebrew letter vav) or Tadasana-closest to this pose in yoga, and ask your Creator, what holds me back in my life from being my most free, fulfilled and peaceful self? See what comes up for you and see if there are maybe one or two of these laws that maybe you need to pay attention to a little more?

Sending you only blessings as we embark closer to our full reception of The Torah coming up in a few weeks on Shavuot, and all things truly good in our lives.



Barbara Heller is a writer, actress, singer, educator, and voice over artist living in the Pico Robertson ‘chood. She often finds herself doing voice match for big celebrities on Hollywood movies, or writing one of her films, or new media projects in coffee shops. She loves Shabbat in the ‘chood, and enjoys baking and meditating. Check out more of her creativity at:, and SixDegreesOfKosherBacon is delighted to have Barbara as a guest blogger this week. 

One response to “Acharei Mot: Going above and beyond is not always the better choice. – by Barbara Heller

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