Dvar Torah -  EMOR

 

This parsha stresses the important duties and abstinences of the

priests in the performance of their official tasks.

 

The Torah demands that a person who has a physical defect or is

blind, lame, or crippled in some way cannot perform as a Kohen (priest) even if he be of the priestly family.   Upon scrutiny, we find that

these rules were necessary to fulfill the requirements of holiness.

How could we expect the Jews to select perfect animal specimens for

their meals and sacrifices if those who prepared the foods had

defects, many of them unknown in origin?  In biblical days, the

setting of a good example was extremely important.  Besides, holiness

and purity are concepts intimately related to Jewish tradition.  Our

rabbis explain that the defects outlined in this parsha are no longer

applicable today to the visible physical defects of a person; that we

must be concerned with the moral and ethical character of our people

and leaders.

 

A considerable portion of the parsha is devoted to the commandments

pertaining to the observance of the festivals and holy days.  In

particular, the period between Pesach and Shavous; the festivals of

liberation and the giving of the Torah which is marked by the

"Counting of the Omer".  In this way, the holiday of Shavous is a

fulfillment, a climax, of the holiday of Passover.  We come to

understand from here that Israel was not a nation by virtue of freedom

alone but by virtue of the Torah.  At no time is the Jew ever free;

there is always a standard by which every action is judged.  The Jew

has no privileged sanctuary as a refuge from responsibility.  Freedom for us Jews is a release from oppression but not from self-control.

Pesach permits us to develop freely, with no interference by anyone,

with our religious activities.  This freedom only becomes real when it

is given direction when the Torah shows us how we can become moral

and ethical men and women.  Pesach and Shavous are complimentary

festivals, deliberately connected by the counting of the omer to

stress their inseparability.  Together they teach us that achievement

in this world is not abandoning but the obligation to perform on the

highest moral and ethical standards to achieve holiness.


Shabbat Shalom,

 
 

Rabbi Gabe  Elias

 

 
 
 
 



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