Teaching For Shabbat of May 1st, 2021
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Emor (אֱמֹר) – Hebrew for “speak,” the fifth word, in the parashah, it is the 31st weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parsha) in the annual cycle of Torah reading. The parsha provides purity rules for priests (כֹּהֲנִים, Kohanim), recounts the holy days, provides for lights and bread in the sanctuary, and tells the story of a blasphemer and his punishment. The parsha covers Leviticus 21:1–24:23
Parsha Emor Summary
The Torah section of Emor (“Speak”) begins with the special laws pertaining to the kohanim (“priests”), the kohen gadol (“high priest”), and the Temple service: A kohen may not become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, save on the occasion of the death of a close relative. A kohen may not marry a divorcee, or a woman with a promiscuous past; a kohen gadol can marry only a virgin. A kohen with a physical deformity cannot serve in the Holy Temple, nor can a deformed animal be brought as an offering.
A newborn calf, lamb or kid must be left with its mother for seven days before being eligible for an offering; one may not slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day.
The second part of Emor lists the annual Callings of Holiness—the festivals of the Jewish calendar: the weekly Shabbat; the bringing of the Passover offering on 14 Nissan; the seven-day Passover festival beginning on 15 Nissan; the bringing of the Omer offering from the first barley harvest on the second day of Passover, and the commencement, on that day, of the 49-day Counting of the Omer, culminating in the festival of Shavuot on the fiftieth day; a “remembrance of shofar blowing” on 1 Tishrei; a solemn fast day on 10 Tishrei; the Sukkot festival—during which we are to dwell in huts for seven days and take the “Four Kinds”—beginning on 15 Tishrei; and the immediately following holiday of the “eighth day” of Sukkot (Shemini Atzeret).
Next the Torah discusses the lighting of the menorah in the Temple, and the showbread (lechem hapanim) placed weekly on the table there.
Emor concludes with the incident of a man executed for blasphemy, and the penalties for murder (death) and for injuring one’s fellow or destroying his property (monetary compensation).
This week’s haftorah discusses various laws that pertain to the kohanim, the priests, a topic also discussed at length in the first part of the week’s Torah portion.
Ezekiel prophesies about the service of the kohanim in the third Holy Temple which will be rebuilt after the Final Redemption. The prophet describes their priestly vestments, their personal care, whom they may and may not marry, and their special purity requirements which preclude them from coming in contact with a corpse, unless it’s for a next of kin. He also discusses their calling as teachers and spiritual leaders.
The prophet conveys God‘s word: “You shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession.” The kohanim do not receive a portion in the Land of Israel, instead they partake of the sacrifices as well as various tithes.
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Torah Parashah teaching with video and audio and illustrations by Rabbi Isaac. © 2021 Assembly of Called-Out Believers. Use by Permission.