TWO LESSONS,TWO NAMES
In retrospect, the Divine serviceof Aharon’s sons provides us withtwo lessons:a positive one, the potential a Jew has to draw close to G-d; and,a negative one, that their servicelacked the thrust toward shuv, life within the context of our world. According to popular custom,there are some who refer to thisTorah reading as Acharei and others who call it Acharei Mos.It is possible to say that thedifference between the two namesdepends on which of the dimensionsis chosen for emphasis. Acharei means “after.”The height of connection reached by Aharon’s sons generated thepotential for similar closeness to beachieved by the Jewish people“afterwards.” Acharei Mos, (“After the deathof”), by contrast, places the accenton the negative outcome thatresulted from their inability tocomplement the closeness to G-d with the commitment to develop anawareness of G-d within thismaterial world. 
Lubavitch custom is to call theTorah reading Acharei, highlightingthe closeness every Jew shares withG-d.For the inner dimension of thesoul of every Jew is at one with G-d, bound together in an inseparableconnection.This bond surpasses thatestablished through the observanceof mitzvos.For although mitzvos create a bond between the commanded andthe Commander, the two remainseparate entities.In essence, however, the Jews andG-d are one. And this is the level of consciousness which surfaces on Yom Kippur. On this level, a Jew’s obedience toG-d is not a matter of choice, for which there is reward or punishment, but a natural response, an expressionof his inner self. As R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev would say, it is not a commitment toobservance which prevents a Jew from eating on Yom Kippur. On YomKippur, who wants to eat! And from Yom Kippur, thisconnection can be continued Acharei, “afterwards,” lifting theentire scope of our Jewishobservance to a higher level.The inner point of connection between a Jew and G-d can suffuseevery aspect of our lives. As such, living within the material world will not represent a challengeto dedication to G-d. At this level,one’s life is one of simple connection which does not allow for anypossibility of separation.Mankind as a whole willexperience this level of connection inthe Era of the Redemption, when theG-dliness which permeates the world will be revealed: “The world will befilled with the knowledge of G-d likethe waters that cover the ocean bed.”In this setting of manifest G-dliness,man’s natural, spontaneous desire will be to obey G-d’s will.
Adapted from: Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXII, p.98ff; Sefer HaSichos 5750, p. 428ff
NOTES:1. See Rashi, commenting on Leviticus 9:23.2. Leviticus 9:23-24.3. Ibid.4. Ibid. 10:1-2.5. Ibid.:3.6. In his commentary to this verse, based onToras Kohanim, commenting on Leviticus9:24; Midrash Tanchuma, Shemini, sec. 1, etal.7. Toras Kohanim, commenting on Leviticus10:1; Vayikra Rabbah 12:1, 20:6,8,9, et al.8. Moshe represented the embodiment of theattribute of truth (Midrash Tanchuma,Shmos, sec. 28). As such, he did not makethis statement as an expression of humility, but rather, as an honest appreciation of thespiritual level of Aharon’s sons.9. One of the interpretations he offers toLeviticus 16:1.10. See the maamar entitled Acharei, SeferHaMaamarim 5649, p. 237ff and LikkuteiSichos, Vol. III, p. 987ff. See also the essayentitled “After Yom Kippur,” in TimelessPatterns in Time, Vol. I, p. 52.11. Cf. Midrash Tanchuma, ParshasBechukosai, sec. 3.12. On this basis, we can understand ourSages’ statement (Avos 4:22): “Against your will, you live.” The natural desire of a Jew’ssoul is to abandon material existence and tocling to G-d. Living within our world is“against your will,” contrary to this desire. Itremains within the body only out of acommitment to fulfill G-d’s will.See the commentary to this mishnah in In thePaths of Our Fathers p. 141 (Kehot, N.Y.,1994).13. The Hebrew word for sin - chet - canalso be rendered as “lack.” (See I Kings1:21.)14. The Or HaChayim explains that thisconcept is underscored by the opening verseof our Torah reading (Leviticus 16:1): “AndG-d spoke to Moshe after the death of thetwo sons of Aharon, when they drew close toG-d and died.” Why does the verse say “and died”? Toemphasize that this was the negativedimension of their service. The closenessthey achieved was desirable. But “they died,”and this closeness did not serve to advanceG-d’s purpose in creation.15. In this context, the death of Aharon’ssons can be compared to a sacrifice, for theygave up their lives to cling to G-d.16. Within this context, the connection onthe mention of Aharon’s sons to theremainder of the Torah reading is that, on Yom Kippur, the High Priest enters the Holyof Holies, drawing close to the manifestationof the Divine Presence. He must rememberthe importance, not only of entering the Holyof Holies, but of departing, and drawing thespiritual closeness into everyday life.17. This level of connection transcends thethrusts of ratzu and shuv, uniting one withG-d in a simple and constant bond. See theessay entitled “A Time to Take Stock,”Timeless Patterns in Time, Vol. II, p. 147ff.18. Isaiah 11:9, cited by the Rambam,Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 12:5, atthe conclusion of his discussion of the Era of the Redemption.