Weekly Portion: Emor (Leviticus 21-24)



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 Twersky on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states:

“YOU SHALL NOT DESECRATE MY HOLY NAME, RATHER I SHOULD BE SANCTIFIED AMONG THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL” (LEVITICUS 22:32).

This verse is the source of the mitzvah of kiddush HaShem(sanctification of the God’s name), which is that a person should accept martyrdom rather than deny God. Unfortunately, this mitzvah has too often been fulfilled in Jewish history — when Jews have given up their lives when put to the ultimate test of their faith — whether to convert to another religion under threat of death or to die as a Jew.

Although kiddush HaShem is generally thought of as martyrdom, one does not have to give up one’s life to fulfill this mitzvah. Anytime that a Jew behaves in a manner that bring honor to God, and people can point to him saying, “That is the beauty of obeying the Torah,” that is a kiddush HaShem.

We are required to think of kiddush HaShem every time we recite the Shema. This willingness to give up one’s life rather than deny God, is required of every Jew. If you know what you are willing to die for, then you know what you should live for.

For any act to have meaning and value, it must have a purpose. For life to have meaning and value, it must be purposeful. Everything a person does consciously has a purpose. Rational people do not do things that have no purpose.

If an act is not part of an ultimate purpose, the act has little meaning. For the Jew, the ultimate purpose should be to do the will of God — this gives great meaning and substance to our every action, our every mitzvah and ultimately our very lives!

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