Emor – Perasha Synopsis

The Perasha begins with a directive from Hashem telling the Kohanim, whose Divine Service places upon them a particular responsibility, to maintain higher standards of holiness and purity. As part of that holiness the Kohanim were exhorted to protect themselves from any “contamination” or “impurity” and if they become, they must withdraw from all aspects of the Service. Since they are crowned with distinction they are prone to think that they can allow themselves liberties not permitted to “commoners”. To the contrary, the Torah tells them their responsibilities are greater than those of others.

In keeping with the theme of purity, Hashem commands Bene Yisrael to sanctify his name. The primary privilege and responsibility of every Jew, great or small, is to sanctify G-d’s name through his behavior, by treating others kindly, considerately, and honestly.

The Torah moves on to describe several of the holy days of the year. It begins with the Sabbath, the seventh day of rest. Pesah, the Festival of Massot is determined and described, followed by the Omer, a seven-week period following Pesah and culminating with Shabuot. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shimini Asseret are also noted in the yearly calendar and described in this Perasha.

Hashem repeats the commandment to light the Menorah – Candelabra and to prepare the Lehem Hapanim – “Show Bread” as part of the rituals associated with the responsibilities of the Kohen in the Tabernacle.

The Torah now proceeds to the narrative of the blasphemer – the bridge between the Temple laws and the social laws, symbolizing the need of purity. A person who utters a curse against G-d fails to subordinate his own ambitions and passions to G-d’s will. Such person’s failure leads easily to the subjects that follow, namely murder and property damage, the sort of anti-social behavior that prevents society to function properly. Indeed, peace and harmony in society flow from the recognition and reverence of a Supreme Being – G-d.

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