Weekly Reading Insights: Emor 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Emor

To be read on 17 Iyar 5764 (May 8th )

Leviticus 21:1-24:23 ; Haftorah: Ezekiel 44:15-31(Kohanim in Temple)
Emor is the 68th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 31st overall, and 20th out of 54 in overall length.

Pirkei Avot: Chapter Four

Parshat Emor opens with laws concerning priests and the high priest: which blemishes or states of impurity disqualify them from serving, with whom they may marry, for which deceased person may they become impure, and more. The next topic discussed is which animals are eligible for sacrifices. The following section speaks about Shabbos and lists some of the dates and laws of the holidays. Then comes instructions about the menorah’s ‘eternal lamp’ and the showbread in the Tabernacle. The  concluding section relays how a Jew blasphemed and what his punishment was.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:31-64/Emor )

This commandment to sanctify Him every day is in order to raise up His holiness from below to above every day, in the same way as [the angels] above.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:31-64/Emor )

It is at this level that the high priests of all ten sefirot begin.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:31-64/Emor )

To the extent that a person displays consideration for the feeling of others he in turn may find that such considerations of his own feelings will be a factor when he will be judged. The reverse is also true.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"None of them shall defile himself, among his people (b'amav)." (21:1)
The Hebrew word "amav" is related to the word "im'um," dimming or growing dark, as in dying embers or coals that have been left to burn out on their own. Serving G-d "dimly," halfheartedly and without fervor, is the cause of all defilement and impurity. The Torah warns us against allowing our G-dly spark to grow dim. Rather, it must be constantly nurtured and rekindled.
(The Rebbe of Alexander)

"In the manner that he has caused a bodily defect in a man, so shall it be done to him." (24:20)
Whenever a person sees a defect in others it is a sure sign that the same defect exists in him, as the saying goes, "He who charges others charges them with his same fault."
(Kovetz HaMincha)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:31-64/Emor)

Parshat Emor begins with the words, "And G-d said to Moses, speak to the priests - the children of Aaron - and say to them, do not defile yourselves by contact with the dead among his people." (Lev. 21:1) An ancient question is why does the verse say first "speak to" and then "say"? Rashi explains that the first verb is Moses warning the bigger priests and the second is the bigger priests warning the smaller priests not to defile themselves. Thus, the Torah reminds us of the obligation that one generation has towards the next.

In the Midrash it is explained differently. The last verse in last week's portion speaks about the death penalty for those using skulls ("ov") and birds bones ("yidoni") to communicate with the dead. If you read the verses together it comes out, "Don't use ovs and yidonis ....but rather, speak to the priests....and tell them (the people trying to speak to the dead), "Do not defile yourselves." Instead, let us ask the Urim and Tumim, a breast plate with 12 precious stones worn by the High Priest that miraculously answered questions.

The Seer of Lublin took a different tack. First, speak to the priests telling them that they are the children of Aaron. Just like Aaron was aggressive about going out to help others, so should they. But, the Seer cautioned, the verse continues, "…and tell them, do not defile yourselves"; when going out to help others, be careful not to endanger your own souls by overdoing it.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe goes back to the words Rashi uses and explains the idea of the bigger warning the smaller in terms of the two aspects contained in each of our souls. The bigger aspect is the strength of our intellect and the smaller is the strength of our ability to act. The Torah is telling us that the strength of our intellect must warn our ability to act. In other words, the study of Torah must result in performing the mitzvot, as the Talmud says, "Great is Torah study that it brings us to positive action" (Kedushin 40).

In this week's parasha, G-d enumerates all the festivals. The verse says "Speak to the Jewish people and tell them these are your festivals that you will call holy events. These are My festivals." (Lev. 23:2) Even though the holidays were given to us by G-d, it is the Jewish people, via the Sanhedrin, who set the calendar and therefore decides when the holidays will be celebrated. It is through our own efforts that the festivals can be either special events or just parties and celebrations. The Shelah writes that if we celebrate for G-d's sake, to arouse ourselves spiritually, to cling to Him and to understand His Torah, then the festivals are called "My" festivals. If, on the other hand, we use them to fill our stomachs, then they are called your festivals (he actually uses much worse language...) Keep in mind who is supposed to set the pace for the holidays.

Each Shabbat has at least three different dimensions that affect us. The first is the idea of "living with the times", meaning that each weekly reading contains within it specific teachings to assist and direct us in dealing with our day to day lives. Secondly, each Shabbat is the culmination, completion and the subsequent elevation of our accomplishments of the previous week. Finally, each Shabbat is the vessel for blessings for our as-yet-unfulfilled potential for the coming week. This Shabbat is very important because it simultaneously follows Pesach Sheni and immediately precedes Lag B'Omer.

"Pesach Sheni" means "Second Passover". It falls this Wednesday. In the beginning of the second year after leaving Egypt, a small group of Jews complained to Moses (Numbers 9:6): 'We were unable to bring the Passover offering because we were spiritually impure. Why should we lose out?' Moses asked G-d, who answered that they were justified; therefore, whoever is impure or far away on the 14th of Nissan should be permitted to bring the offering the following month on the 14th of Iyar. Pesach Sheni demonstrates that nothing is ever lost. It is always possible to fix or complete something left unfinished. All that is necessary is to try.

Lag B'Omer this year falls on Saturday night and Sunday, May 9th. For much information and insights for Lag B'Omer, please visit our two websites: www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org .

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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