Weekly Portion: Emor (Leviticus 21-24)

This week’s portion sets forth the standards of purity and perfection for a Cohen; specifies the physical requirements of sacrifices and what is to be done with blemished offerings; proclaims as holidays the Shabbat, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

It reminds the Jewish people to provide pure olive oil for the Menorah and designates the details of the Showbread (two stacks of 6 loaves each which were placed on the table in the portable sanctuary and later in the Temple once a week upon Shabbat).

The portion ends with the interesting story of a man who blasphemed God’s name with a curse. What should be the penalty for this transgression? Curious? Leviticus. 24:14.

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Dvar Torah
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states:

“You shall sanctify him (the Kohen), for he presents the food offering of your God; he shall remain holy to you, for holy am I, God, Who sanctifies you” (Lev. 21:8).

Whenever the Torah refers to the sanctity of the Kohen, it says, “For I am God Who makes him holy” (Lev. 21:16, 22:9, 22:16). The exception is in the above verse which dictates that we revere the Kohen for his holiness — and closes with, “For holy am I, God, Who sanctifies you.” Inasmuch as it speaks about the sanctity of the Kohen, it would appear to be more appropriate to say, “Who sanctifies him as it does elsewhere.

The Torah is providing us with a guideline to help avoid a serious error. We must be very careful how we relate to our spiritual leaders. Each of us is vulnerable to bias that may distort our judgment. A teacher or spiritual guide not only provides information, but an objective perspective and a role model.

The Kohen should be respected and revered because God has sanctified him. However, our self-worth does not emanate from the Kohen. It comes from God — “for holy am I, God, Who sanctifies you.”

We have great personal worth independent of the Kohen, because God has sanctified us and has instilled a neshama (soul), a part of His essence, within us.


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