This week we are reading the 29th weekly Torah portion: Leviticus 16:1 to 18:30.

These chapters cover the practices and priestly rituals surrounding Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. The portion is read in synagogues as part of the services every year on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is the absolute holiest day on the Jewish calendar. And it is on Yom Kippur that three concentric spheres of holiness merge: The High Priest on the most sacred day of the year enters the most hallowed space on earth to make a sacrifice and pronounce the holy name of God. On any other day by any other person and in any other place saying the name of Yahweh was prohibited.

However, as Nadav and Avihu’s example proved, no one treads spontaneously into the Holy of Holies. On Yom Kippur, Leviticus instructs, Aaron was to bathe and dress in his priestly linen vestments. He then sacrificed a bull for the atonement of himself and his household. What comes next in the sixteenth chapter is in my opinion one of the most mysterious portions of the whole Torah.