We are now between the completion of the Torah reading for Yom Kippur morning and the solemn prayer of Yizkor, when we will have the opportunity to greet the spirits of our beloved ones, and in a sense communicate with them.

This morning’s Torah reading is the first chapter of Acharei Mot in the book of Leviticus. It discusses the ritual that Aaron the Kohen Gadol performed in the Beit Hamikdash on this hallowed day. The Torah conveys to us in detail the different services he performed in order to attain atonement for himself, his household, and the entire Congregation of Israel. This day was the only day in the year when he would enter into the Kodesh HakadashimHoly of Holies — section of the Sanctuary, garbed in white linen vestments.

This service is not limited to Aaron, but rather it applies to every Kohen Gadol. The Torah states, “The Kohen who has been anointed or who has been given the authority to serve in place of his father, shall provide atonement. He shall don the linen sacred vestments” (16:32). This means that when the father of the Kohen Gadol passes on, the son takes over his position to bring atonement for the Children of Israel, and he shall do so in the same manner his father did.

The belongings of parents are cherished by their children and have immense sentimental value. A daughter, though she has her own candlesticks, from time to time uses the ones her mother used. A son often likes to use his father’s kiddush cup or other items which his father used in the performance of sacred duties. Thus, the Torah’s statement “He shall don the sacred vestments” raises the question of whether the son wears the same ones his father wore or not.

However, though one might suppose that he does, halachah says otherwise. When the Kohen completed his services, the Torah says, “Aharon shall come to the Tent of Meeting, he shall remove the linen vestments that he wore when he entered the Sanctuary, ‘vehinicham sham’ — ‘and he shall leave them there’ ” (16:24). From these two words our Sages have derived that they are te’unim genizah — they must be stored away and never be used again by anyone, even by a Kohen Gadol on a future Yom Kippur (ibid., Rashi).

From this halachah a lesson of great importance can be derived. Even though the son achieved his elevation and glory thanks to his father, he must have his own clothing and not wear his father’s garb. In other words, he cannot just live off the achievements of his venerable father, but must have his own accomplishments and create his own self-image and place in the community.

Another lesson to be learned from this is that one must constantly strive to do better and not suffice with the accomplishment already achieved. The garb worn last year may not be used this year. Similarly, we may not be content with our status of last year. Each new year must be a step higher.

During Yizkor, when we will “face” our beloved parents, let us resolve that regardless of the positions they helped us to achieve, we will not just live off the past, but continuously make new garments — new accomplishments in our dedication and observance of Torah and mitzvot. This indeed is the “thank you” we owe to them.