Parsha Emor – 5777

Parshat Emor In-Depth

“Speak to the kohanim, the sons of Aaron, and say to them . . . (Leviticus 21:1)

“Speak” and “say”—enjoin the elders regarding the youngsters. (Talmud; Rashi)

The above dictum, which constitutes a primary biblical source for the concept of education, also offers insight into the nature of education.

The word used by the Talmud and Rashi—lehazhir, “to enjoin”—also means “to shine.” Hence the phrase “to enjoin the elders regarding the youngsters” also translates as “to illuminate the elders regarding the youngsters.” Education is not only an elder teaching a youngster; it is also an illumination for the educator. (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)”

Torah Sparks: Emor 5777

“Rabbi Yitzchak Karo explains, in his commentary Toldot Yitzchak, why the laws of blasphemy are located here, following a series of laws about the sanctity of the priesthood, sacrifices, Shabbat and Holydays, and certain ritual items in the Mishkan. He explains that the blasphemer comes and ‘repudiates all – the offerer, the sacrifice, and the very existence of God, by blaspheming, as if there is no Law and Judge.'”

From Blasphemy to Blasphemous: An Instructive Transition

“On January 24, 1656, Jacob Lumbrozo, a Portuguese-born doctor and businessman, became the first documented Jew to settle in the Catholic colony of Maryland. Two years later, under provisions of the colony’s ironically named Toleration Act of 1649, which extended freedom of religion exclusively to Trinitarian Christians, Lumbrozo, himself a litigious person, was charged with blasphemy. He faced both severe economic sanctions and even punishment by death. Ten days after his trial began a general amnesty on such matters was proclaimed in England by the government of Richard Cromwell. The proceedings in Maryland were immediately terminated and the doctor was allowed to go free.”

An Eye For An Eye

“One of my recurring themes in my writings is the effort to demonstrate the evolving nature of Jewish tradition. Even though the Torah is our fixed and sacred literature, it serves not as the last word but as the foundation of a legal and ethical tradition that emerged as early as 500 B.C.E. and continues to this day. I think it is necessary to continue to remind us of this fact because of the durable stereotype that much Christian thought foists upon the Jews: Judaism is the religion of law, while Christianity is the religion of love. In that telling, when Christianity emerged, Judaism somehow became frozen in time, rejecting the New Testament, forever stranded in the obsolete ancient paradigm of harsh justice that Christianity was here to transcend.”

Haftarah Parshat Emor

“The first part of Parshat Emor in the Torah contains laws ostensibly aimed at the Kohanim (Priests). It contains special laws regarding ritual impurity especially aimed at the priests as well as marital proscriptions. The prophet Ezekiel, a priest himself, recounts further regulations for priests in his prophecy concerning the future Temple. Some of these regulations proved problematic to the rabbinic sages because they seemingly contradicted laws of the Torah. One, in particular, the last verse of the haftarah was especially surprising: “Priests shall not eat anything, whether bird or animal, that died (nevelah) or was torn by beasts (terefah).” (34:31)”