Vol 17.22 - Acharei 1                      Spanish French Audio  Video

Hebrew Text:

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(5736) "his 'house'  means his 'wife'" (Tal. Yoma 2a). Discussion regarding the Din that a Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur
must be married; Explanation of Chazal  (Tal. Shab. 118b) " I have never called my wife 'my wife'.. rather 'my house'";

Connection of the above mentioned beginning of the tractate to the siyum of tractate Yoma (85b): "R' Akiba said: Happy are you, Israel! Who is it before whom you become clean? and who is it that makes you clean? Your Father which is in heaven"

Explanation of the statement of R' Akiba  and the innovation (Chiddush) compared to the preceding statement of R' Elazar ben Azariah.



This week's Torah portion, Acharei, begins with a detailed description of the service of the high priest (kohen gadol) on Yom Kippur. It continues with the admonition to not offer sacrifices outside of the designated areas. It ends with laws of morality and forbidden relationships. However, it is interesting to note that nearly half of the Torah portion is taken up with the discussion of the High Priest's service on Yom Kippur.

At first glance this is somewhat surprising, as Yom Kippur occurs only once a year. The Torah portion of Acharei thus opens with commandments that pertain to a very limited time and place.

The Torah then goes on to enumerate the daily service of the "regular" kohanim (priests) in the Holy Temple. These commandments apply to the entire year.

This particular section of the Torah was given to the Jewish people in the Hebrew month of Nisan. Thus it is even more surprising that its subject is Yom Kippur, which was then six months in the future, as opposed to a subject which would have had immediate relevance.

One explanation offered is that the service of the priesthood was performed in the holy of holies. In order for the priests to perform their daily service successfully, their powers must be derived from the very highest level of holiness.

The holy of holies is the most sanctified place on earth. The holiest time of the year is Yom Kippur. The Yom Kippur service is performed in the holiest place, by the holiest individual of the entire Jewish people, the high priest.

Accordingly, the Yom Kippur service represents the very highest level of holiness, from which all kohanim draw their ability to perform their daily service in the Holy Temple.

Every member of the Jewish people belongs to a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation." In order to be able to perform his own Divine mission in life, a Jew must receive a pure, Torah-true education while he is still young. The education a child receives in his youth has an influence over his entire life, as it is written, "Even when he grows old it will not depart from him." Giving a Jewish child a Torah-true education ensures that he will grow up to be an adult worthy of belonging to a "kingdom of priests."

Just as kohanim derive the power to perform their daily service from the highest level of holiness, so too must we expose our children to the purest and most uncompromising Torah-true education if we wish to prepare them properly for Jewish adulthood.


Synopsis 2:

In describing the service of the High Priest on Yom Kippur , the Torah portion Acharei tells us that the Kohen Gadol “shall atone for himself and for his home.”1 Our Sages explain2 that “his home” means his wife.

By stating that the Kohen Gadol is to atone for both himself and his wife, the verse implies that the High Priest must be married.

However, the requirement that the Kohen Gadol be married is germane only to Yom Kippur ; during the rest of the year a Kohen Gadol may serve even if he is unmarried.

Yom Kippur represents the acme of spiritual service, when the holiest of the Jewish people — the Kohen Gadol — served in the most holy place — the Holy of Holies — on the holiest day of the year.

Why was it necessary for the Kohen Gadol to be married in order to perform this most sacred service? This is even more puzzling in light of the fact that it was necessary for the Kohen Gadol to separate from his wife during the week preceding Yom Kippur.3

The fact that the Torah refers to the Kohen Gadol ’s wife as “his home” rather than simply “his wife” shows that not only must the Kohen Gadol be married, but also that at the time of his service on Yom Kippur he must also have a wife that is “his home.”

But what superior quality makes a wife one’s “home”? Furthermore, what exactly do we mean that the Kohen Gadol ’s wife was his “home”?

The great Sage Rabbi Yossi once said:4 “I have never referred to my spouse as ‘my wife,’ but rather as ‘my home.’ ” R. Yossi’s statement about how he would refer to his wife was one of a number of statements concerning how careful he was to conduct himself in an exemplary fashion. What was so special about his always referring to his wife as “his home”?

In referring to his wife in this manner, R. Yossi sought to indicate his awareness that the ultimate purpose of marriage is to fulfill the commandment “be fruitful and multiply” — to establish a Jewish home filled with children. He therefore saw his spouse not as “his wife” but as “his home.”

Rabbi Yossi’s conduct differed from the other Rabbis’ who would refer to their spouses as their wives. The other Sages would not relate to their spouses only as “their homes,” for they realized that to have a wife — even without children to make her “one’s home” — is a desirous end in itself.

Thus we find that during the first year of marriage — when there are no children — a husband is exempt from military service so that he may “gladden his wife.”5 So too, a husband is freed from certain obligations during festivals so that he will be able to “gladden his wife.”

Clearly, the Torah recognizes the value of the relationship between husband and wife in and of itself.

R. Yossi’s degree of sanctity, however, was such that his view of married life centered around the fact that marriage would enable him to have children. Thus, when thinking of his wife he would envision the result of his marriage — a Jewish home replete with children.

On Yom Kippur the Kohen Gadol was charged with the awesome responsibility of achieving atonement not only on his own behalf and on behalf of his “home,” but — most importantly — on behalf of all Israel.6

Understandably, in order to accomplish this he had to rise to the greatest of spiritual heights. Part of this process lay in sanctifying himself to the degree that he — like R. Yossi — viewed his wife solely as “his home.”

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XVII, pp. 172-176.



1.Vayikra 16:6.

2.Opening Mishnah of tractate Yoma.


4.Shabbos 118b.

5.Devarim 24:5.

6.Vayikra ibid.




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