The Jewish people had sinned, and their future stood in the balance. G-d's initial plans to destroy the people were thwarted by the intense prayers of Moshe, and it was on Yom Kippur that our covenant with G-d was reestablished. And on the very next day, the construction of the Mishkan began.
One of the hallmarks of the Western world is its inclusiveness. Great attempts are made to make all feel included, no matter their ability or their lifestyle. This is a most beautiful sentiment. Society has become more sensitive to the needs of people who not so long ago were shunned.
It is quite rare to read parshat Acharei Mot on Shabbat Hagadol. In non-leap years, it is generally parshat Tzav that is read on Shabbat Hagadol. And when we do have a leap year, it is usually parshat Metzora that is read as we get set to usher in Pesach. While this or any other connection between the parsha and Pesach is “coincidental”, there is much that unites Acharei Mot with Pesach.
In trying to develop the potential of man, the Mussar movement developed two different approaches to the sinning of man. One school of thought, exemplified by the approach developed in Novordak, stressed the lowliness of man--our propensity to sin, our animalistic tendencies and our need for repentance. The second school of thought, represented by Slobodka, stressed the greatness of man--created in the image of G-d, tasked with building up the world, and with so much to offer. How could one who is so great allow themselves to sin?
“Seek out G-d when He can be found, call upon Him when He is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Our Sages interpret this verse as referring to the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, the ten days of repentance, which begin on Rosh Hashanah and end with the conclusion of Yom Kippur. This is the season when G-d is closer to us and thus our prayers stand a “better chance” of success.
The death of the righteous atones, our Sages teach, and it is for this reason that during Mussaf of Yom Kippur, just after recounting the special service done in the Temple, we read of the deaths of the “ten martyrs” so cruelly murdered by the Romans.
"They [the Romans] ordered the Rabbi Chananya ben Tradeyon be brought from his study hall, and they burned his body with bundles of branches. They placed saturated wool sponges on his chest to delay his death and, as soon as they were removed, he was burned together with his Torah scroll” (Machzor).