June 14, 2024
Parashat Emor 5784

When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned about Parashat Emor (אֱמֹר‎), the 31st weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings.

According to Wikipedia, Emor (אֱמֹר‎), Leviticus 21:1 through 24:23, contains 6,106 Hebrew letters, 1,614 words, 124 verses and makes up 215 lines of the Torah scroll, giving it the distinction of having the most verses of any reading in the Book of Leviticus. This is not to be confused with Vayikra, title holder for the most letters and words in Leviticus.

Parashat Emor describes the purity rules for priests, recounts the holy days, describes the preparations for the lights and bread in the sanctuary and tells the story of a blasphemer and his punishment.

Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Emor for Shabbat May 18, 2024 aka 10 Iyar 5784:

“Sedra Emor emphasizes again the special nature of the relationship between G-d, the Jewish nation, and the Kohanim. We may ask why does the Torah devote so much time and energy to the special nature of the Kohanim and Levites , both groups from the Tribe of Levi?

The primary answer is that when the other tribes participated with the mixed multitude in the evil rebellion of the golden calf, it was only the Tribe of Levi who sought to prevent this evil from occurring. They stood up for G-d and the leadership of Moses when it seemed that the entire nation would fall apart and return to idolatry and even to slavery in Egypt. Instead of rejecting G-d’s miracles and constant care, they embraced it, and thereby restored order and equilibrium to those who remained steadfast.

In our day, we are witnessing the power wielded by evil ideas and evil governments who follow misguided interpretations of hatred and violence (Hamas) of their own political doctrines or religious beliefs. Once again, we are confronted with the evil perpetrated by those who follow Amalek and seek not only to erase history, but who seek the destruction of Israel and Jewish People in their genocidal rage.

Like the Kohanim and Levites of their day we will stand steadfast and resolute, shoulder to shoulder, with good people of all races and nationalities who will not stand idly by and allow evil to overtake the world. We will call out the evil of those countries and leaders who seek to destroy democracy and justice in the world and bring justice and restore order like the Kohanim and Levites of the Torah. Everyone deserves to have special recognition and be considered Holy. This can only be accomplished by speaking up and standing against the genocide that is occurring against free people and even on college campuses and in the United Nations.

Questions to discuss:

  1. Why does the Torah prohibit Kohanim contact with the dead except for blood relatives?
  2. Why are we specifically prohibited from oppressing a Ger (righteous convert)?
  3. Which law in Emor prohibits talebearing?
  4. What other laws from 10 Commandments are contained in Emor? What does teach us about being Holy?

Rabbi Michael D. Klein

Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.

Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.

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