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Emor Summaries

Emor 5777-2017

“Communicating a Vital Message Clearly”

The Torah prohibits the priests from performing the one mitzvah–burying the dead, that seems so natural for them.

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Emor 5776-2016

“The Sabbath: Meeting G-d”

What the Tabernacle/Temple is in space, the Sabbath and festivals are in time. They are both intended to unite G-d with His people

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Emor 5775-2015

“Distractions, Distractions!”

Just as the ancient priests were bidden to singularly focus on their work in the Sanctuary, so too must all Jews today endeavor to focus on our peoples’ mission to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

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Emor 5774-2014

“The Sadducees and the Counting of the Omer”

One of the best known and most formidable disagreements between the Sadducees (the literalists) and Pharisees (the traditionalists) during the final years of the Second Temple concerned the counting of the Omer.

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Emor 5773-2013

“Sanctifying G-d’s Name”

Chilul Hashem, the profanation of G-d’s name, is one of the most severe sins a Jew can commit, while sanctifying G-d’s name is one of the greatest mitzvot a Jew can perform.

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Emor 5772-2012

“Lessons from a Priest’s Wanton Daughter”

The bad habits that we see some of our children developing may not be due to the children’s own personal shortcomings, but rather a result of the failure of proper parental nurturing. The only way for the priests, parents, and children to become sanctified and remain sanctified is for parents to serve as sanctified examples for their children and their families.

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Emor 5771-2011

“Sanctifying and Defiling G-d’s Name”

Two prominent laws are found in parashat Emor that serve as foremost guideposts for the proper behavior of the Jewish people. Kiddush Hashem calls for the sanctification of G-d’s name. Hillul Hashem forbids the profanation and desecration of G-d’s name.

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Emor 5770-2010

“Striving For Perfection”

Much of parashat Emor speaks of holiness, faultlessness, striving for perfection and the proper observance of the holy days. Have we lost the desire to reach perfection in the modern world?

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Emor 5769-2009

“The Highest Mitzvah of All!”

In parashat Emor, our sages derive from the laws governing the prohibition of the priest from defiling himself to the dead, the special commandment of “Met Mitzvah,” the requirement to bury an abandoned body for which there is no one else to care. It is considered by many to be the foremost mitzvah, over which no other mitzvah takes precedence.

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Emor 5768-2008

“Creed or Deed”

The Torah instructs us to observe G-d’s commandments and to perform them, leading Rashi to comment that one must study the commandments diligently in order to perform them properly. Jewish scholars engage in a very cogent argument over whether creed or deed takes precedence.

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Emor 5767-2007

“Waiting Until the Eighth Day”

The Torah states in Leviticus 22:27 that an animal must be at least eight days old before it may be offered for sacrifice. The commentators propose a host of original and interesting rationales to explain the purpose of this particular rule, underscoring the importance of the nuances that we derive from the textual study of the verses of the Torah.

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Emor 5766-2006

“Striving for Perfection”

The theme of perfection repeats itself frequently in parashat Emor. Not only do the Priests and the sacrifices need to be physically unblemished, even the thoughts of the donors and the Priests must be clean and pure as well. The theme of striving for perfection is a constant and repetitive theme in Jewish life, toward which each Jew is encouraged to strive.

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Emor 5765-2005

“Priests and Death: An Unusual Relationship”

In parashat Emor, the commentators explain why a lay priest may contaminate himself upon the death of his closest seven relatives, but may not be defiled for the death of strangers. Through the laws of death, the Torah teaches the Jewish people the infinite value of life.

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Emor 5764-2004

“The Blasphemer – A Midrashic View”

One of the highlights of parashat Emor is the blasphemer, the son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian father who, as a result of a quarrel, blasphemes in the name of G-d. The blasphemer is ultimately put to death. This harsh sentence is difficult to understand. The Midrash, however, fills in the details, explaining what the blasphemer did, linking his crime to his past.

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Emor-Yom Ha’atzmaut 5763-2003

“The Counting of the Omer and the Celebration of Israel’s Independence”

The counting of the Omer underscores the ultimate purpose of the Exodus from Egypt–the giving of the Torah! Therefore the period from the second day of Passover until the sixth day of Sivan when the festival of Shavuot is celebrated, is counted with great enthusiasm. Counting the Omer is always done in ascending numerical order rather than descending order, underscoring its positive, joyous and optimistic nature–celebrating the victory of light over darkness, morality over immorality and love over hate.

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Emor 5762-2002

“Death and the Kohanim–the Children of Aaron”

In parashat Emor we learn that a Kohain is only allowed to contaminate himself on the occasion of the death of one of his seven closest relatives. Rabbi Saul Berman maintains that the ancient priests, who acted as clergy, were not permitted to be involved with the dead so they would not be in a position to exploit their vulnerable constituents at the time of bereavement. It may also be a way of encouraging lay people to reach out to their friends and acquaintances at the time of death, rather than relying exclusively on clergy.

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Emor 5761-2001

“The Gift of Celebration”

In parashat Emor the Torah speaks of the Jewish holidays, the festivals of G-d and the holy convocations that the people are to observe at their appropriate times. Proper celebrations are necessary for good living. It is important for the community to salute springtime, as well as the season that marked the dawn of Israel’s liberation from Egypt. The Jewish celebrations are truly remarkable gifts from G-d.

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