Weekly Reading Insights: Emor 5766

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Emor

To be read on 15 Iyar 5766 (May 12-13)

Leviticus 21:1-24:23 ; Haftorah: Ezekiel 44:15-31(Kohanim in Temple)

Pirkei Avot: Chapter 4

Emor is the 8th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 31st overall, and 20th out of 54 in overall length

Parshas 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-/Emor)

So too, when the Israelites left Egypt, they left their state of spiritual impurity. They celebrated Passover, partaking of the food of their Father (See Sifri Zuta, Nasso 57), and from then on they counted the days until the wife [the Jewish People] can approach her Husband [G-d]. These are the fifty days [until the day following the completion of the seven weeks of counting the omer] of purification that enable a person to enter the World to Come [alluding to the level of bina] and receive the Torah, and enable the wife to come to her Husband.

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-/Emor)

Now, you must know that when Abel was killed [by Cain] over the extra twin [sister born with him], the evil of Cain was transferred into the Egyptian [taskmaster] that Moses killed, since [Moses] was a reincarnation of Abel, who was killed by Cain.
Now, the blasphemer was the son of the Egyptian, and he was entirely evil, devoid of any good [aspects].

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From Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (O:31-/Emor)

The Zohar ( Sulam edition page 24) poses the question that if this legislation of not slaughtering the young animal on the same day as the mother animal (Lev. 22:28) is to save the mother animal the pain of watching its young killed, this could be avoided simply by keeping them apart. The true reason, however, is connected to the Jewish people's sense of empathy. 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 is judged

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


"You shall not profane...." (22:32)

The Hebrew word for "profane"--"t'chal'lu"--is related to the word meaning "empty" or "void." "Do not cause a void or emptiness to come between us," G-d cautions, referring to transgressions which place a barrier between a Jew and G-d. "Furthermore, make sure that no place is void of Me." Haughtiness pushes away the Divine Presence, which is incompatible with pride and lack of humility.

(Likutei Torah)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


G-d said to Moshe, "Say (emor) to the Kohanim and say (v'amarta) to

The verses go on to tell us that a Kohen is not allowed to become impure by coming close to a dead body. But for a close relative of the Kohen, such as his sister, he is allowed to become impure. Even more so, he is commanded: "For her become impure."

The Talmud says that G-d may be compared to a Kohen. We are therefore left with the question -- since we are still impure in our exile and G-d is like a Kohen, how will He be allowed to come close enough to us, so to speak, in order to take us out of exile?

But the Zohar explains that the Jewish people are considered like G-d's sister. Therefore, He will have no problem taking us out of exile -- right away!

[Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

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

In the first verse of this week's reading, the Torah repeats itself, saying, "Say [in Hebrew, 'emor'] to the priests [kohanim], the sons of Aaron and say to them". Rashi explains the repetition of the term "to say" with what is now a famous expression: "to warn the older [priests, concerning their teaching responsibility] for the younger [priests]."

This is not the only scriptural basis for the obligation of adults to educate children. The Talmud (Yevamot 114a), points out three different commands where the same double use of the word "say" is employed: the prohibition to eat insects, the prohibition to consume blood, and the prohibition for priests to defile themselves. Why are these three commandments used, as examples to demonstrate the importance of education? And how, indeed, can we best educate our children?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe identifies what these three commandments have in common and explains that it is their very uniqueness which makes these commandments difficult to teach to a child.

Eating insects is something we find naturally disgusting. On the other hand, the consumption of blood, though equally repulsive, was nonetheless, a common and widespread practice. Finally, the laws governing the defilement of priests possess no apparent rational basis. A teacher today would feel frustrated, incapable of effectively communicating these concepts. For this reason, the Torah underscores the urgency to educate our children specifically about these three commandments, in order to confer upon us the extra strength required for this challenging task.

From this, we learn three educational principles: Firstly, if a teacher has a student who behaves despicably, the situation is not hopeless. Secondly, it is commonly believed that although it is normally possible to teach anyone who is receptive to new ideas, if a person is habituated to some horribly inappropriate behavior then the situation is hopeless; the Torah categorically disagrees, teaching that even a person who is totally fixated in a bad pattern of behavior, such as eating blood, must be taught, because even he can change for the better.

Lastly, conventional wisdom maintains that you can only teach things that can be explained logically. If students should adopt a position that they do not believe something, then there is not much room to change their minds. Accordingly, the Torah emphasizes education in the context of the defilement of the priests, something totally supra-rational, informing us that education can, in fact, alter a person's perception dramatically. For implanted in the inner recesses of every Jew is an eternal faith that a proper education can uncover and nourish.

When the Torah gives us a directive, it is also actually imbuing us with the strength to fulfill it. The Torah never demands more than we are capable of; therefore, we should never feel that any of its directives is beyond us. Fortified with this insight, we can fulfill G d's commandments with confidence and with joy, knowing that we are doing our part in hastening of the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.

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