Parashat Emor / פרשת אמור

Torah Reading: Parshas EMOR, Leviticus 21:1-24:23


As discussed in Universal Torah #20 TETZAVEH, the Torah conception of the priests and their relationship with the people is radically different from the conception of the priesthood in other traditions. The Cohen of the Torah does not absolve the Israelite of his obligation to forge his own personal relationship with G-d. The Cohen is not an intermediary who performs mysterious rituals that magically guarantee that all will be well for the ignorant worshipper who stands by watching.

In many religions, the priests held or hold a monopoly on religious knowledge, often actually discouraging the pursuit of such knowledge by the masses, whose very ignorance is necessary in order for the priest to maintain his position.

By contrast, the Holy Torah was given as a fountain of truth and wisdom to Israel and to all others who want to drink its waters. The entire people of Israel is intended to be a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation: the goal is for each Israelite to develop, build and cultivate his or her own bond with G-d in every detail of life. How can we do this? We need to learn how to do it. For this reason, the pride of place in the Torah tradition goes to the sage and teacher, because he is the one who can tell us how to do this. Even a MAMZER TALMID CHACHAM (an outstanding sage who is of illegitimate birth) takes precedence over the High Priest!

In our present parshah of EMOR, which is largely taken up with laws specifically relating to the priests, we see that Moses was commanded to instruct not only the priests themselves in these laws but also the Children of Israel. The Children of Israel are not to be excluded from all knowledge and understanding of the priesthood. On the contrary, they too are to study the laws relating to the priests. This is because the Israelites, as a kingdom of priests, have to have a model to learn from. The Cohanim are a kingdom within a kingdom. The Cohanim are to be to the Israelite what the Israelites are to be to the world.

The Temple is G-d’s palace on earth: a center-point for all the world to see, in order to contemplate the profundity of the message it contains and thereby to draw closer to the King. Everything about the Temple is about coming closer to G-d, particularly the KORBAN (“sacrifice”, from the Hebrew world KAROV, “close”). The entire Temple services center upon the sacrificial rites: the daily animal, grain, wine and incense offerings, the lighting of the Candelabrum, and so on. Like life in a royal court, life in the Temple was a spectacle. This was particularly so for the Israelite who brought a personal KORBAN, be it a SHLAMIM (“Peace”) offering, or an OLAH and particularly a CHATAS – sin-offering.

The animal is substituted for the person to undergo the slaughter, flaying, cutting and burning the sinner really deserves. (Those who worry about the alleged cruelty to the animal should first go and complain about the millions of animals daily slaughtered all over the world, often with great cruelty, as “sacrifices” for the gratification of men’s selfish lusts. To understand the meaning of the KORBONOS, we must be willing to think of the Temple as it actually was and will be, not try to adapt it to man-made moral “standards”.)

The SEFER HACHINUCH (explaining the meaning of the 613 commandments) discusses the sacrificial rituals at length in Mitzvah #95: Building the Temple. The ceremony consisted of various stages: SEMICHAH (the penitent’s laying on of hands on the animal’s head), SHECHITAH, the slaughter of the animal, KABALAH, collecting of its blood and sprinkling it on the altar, the flaying and cutting of the carcass, salting of the meat, the burning of the altar portions and eating by the priests of their share. The SEFER HACHINUCH explains in detail how the different stages of this unsettling and even shocking ceremony all communicated an unforgettable lesson to the penitent about how man must bring his animal side under control. We are to learn how to “slaughter” and elevate our animality by devoting our energies to G-d’s service and thereby burning our fat on His altar. (See also Nachmanides’ commentary on Leviticus 1:8).

The priests in the Temple, who conducted these ceremonies, were actors in a drama that was calculated to awaken people and induce them to think and repent rather than to hypnotize them with hocus-pocus. The role of the priest was as a facilitator, enabling people to understand the lesson for themselves.

Carrying the obligation to serve as ministers in the House and Court of G-d, the priests are a nation set apart, and are subject to an even more stringent code than the Israelites, as laid out in our parshah of EMOR. They are not allowed to defile themselves for the dead except in the case of their closest relatives. They are strictly forbidden to blemish their own bodies. They are not allowed to marry a divorcee or a woman who has been involved in a relationship tainted by immorality, etc. The Cohanim are to be a completely pure breed, fit to serve as G-d’s ministers on earth. The true Cohen is to be an exemplar in his very life of the elevated purity to which every Israelite should aspire, each according to his or her level.

The ultimate exemplar is to be the COHEN GADOL (“high priest”). Although the COHEN GADOL appears in costumes that are most gorgeous by the standards of this world, he must remain completely separated from this world. This is because his task is to keep our eyes focussed on G-d’s world. Thus the COHEN GADOL is not allowed to defile himself with the dead even in the case of his closest relatives. For in G-d’s world, there is no death but only life.

Everything about the Temple is designed to lift us up above the often tawdry world around us and to teach us how to draw closer to the underlying reality of G-d. For this reason, the Temple must be a place of the imposing splendor and beauty. Everything must be in the best repair. Not a flagstone must be loose nor an altar stone chipped. The vessels must be the finest gold and silver. And so too, the ministers themselves must be people of pleasing looks. Our parshah details the physical blemishes that disqualify a priest from participating in the Temple service itself (though not from eating sacrificial portions). The parshah also details the blemishes that disqualify an animal from being offered as a KORBAN. Everything offered to G-d has to be the very finest and most beautiful. So too, we must seek to beautify our offerings of prayers, our mitzvot, and acts of kindness, and take care that they should not be blemished.

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The calling of the COHANIM was very exalted. The separation and purity demanded of them is not required of the Israelites, who on the contrary are required to be involved in the world — farming, manufacturing, selling and buying, raising families, etc. As discussed in the commentary on the previous parshah, KEDOSHIM, it is precisely through bringing every area of our actual lives under the wing of the Torah that we attain holiness.

Only the Cohen Gadol is to remain within the Temple precincts or in his nearby home in Jerusalem all the time. The people are to be throughout the country, going about their lives. For the Israelite, the relationship of G-d is one of “running and returning”: “running” in the sense of regularly rising above the mundane to make a deeper connection with the underlying reality of G-d, but then “returning”, in the sense of going back to grappling with everyday reality.

The Torah appointed a rhythm of weekly, monthly and seasonal MO’ADIM, “appointed times”, whereby the Israelites rise above the mundane and restore and strengthen their connection with the divine. Our parshah is one of several in the Torah (Ex. ch. 23; Numbers ch. 23; Deut. ch. 16) that set forth the cycle of festivals and their associated practices, each with its own particular focuses.

In our parshah (Leviticus ch. 23) one of the main themes that run through the account of the various festivals and their associated Temple practices is that of drawing ecological balance and agricultural blessing into the world. During the ALIYAH LE-REGEL — the foot-pilgrimage to the Temple on Pesach, Shavuos and Succos — the Israelites would leave the work of making a living and tilling the ground in order to participate in ceremonies whose purpose was to bless that work with G-dliness. Pesach, and Shavuos are particularly bound up with grain, which is man’s staple food. The Matzahs eaten on Pesach may be made from one of the five kinds of grain. On the second day of Pesach, at the beginning of the grain harvesting season, an Omer measure is to be brought from the newly-ripened barley crop. During the coming weeks, while the wheat-harvesting is going on, the Sefirah count directs our minds forward to Shavuos, when a “new grain offering”, the first wheat offering from the new crop — two loaves of leavened bread — was brought.

The observances of Succos are particularly bound up with the water-cycle. The four species of Esrog (citron), Lulav (palm branch), Hadass (myrtle) and Arovos (willow branches) all require ample water. Succos comes after the hot, dry summer of Eretz Israel, prior to what should be the rainy season. We take these four species in our hands and pour out our hearts like water in thanks and praise, hinting to our heavenly Father how totally dependent we are on His blessings and mercy.

The chapter in our present parshah of EMOR relating to the festival cycle leads us in the direction of next week’s parshah, BEHAR, which sets forth the commandments relating to the cycles of Sabbatical and Jubilee years, which are also bound up with agriculture, ecological balance and reverence for the earth.

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Besides the cycles of festivals and Sabbaticals that give time its rhythm, the world is also governed by cycles that are often not apparent, because one generation does not know what happened in previous generations and therefore cannot understand how what happens today is cyclically rooted in what happened earlier.

To understand the incident of the MEGADEF (“blasphemer”) in the closing section of our parshah (Leviticus 24:10ff), it is necessary to understand that “the son of the Israelite woman who was the son of an Egyptian man” was, in fact, the issue of an illicit relationship. Our rabbis teach that Shulamis Bas Divri was the wife of the Israelite whom Moses saw being beaten by an Egyptian the first time he went out to visit his brothers. The Egyptian would daily drive the Israelite out of his home and send him to his labors, thereafter going into his wife. (See Rashi on Lev. 24:10 and on Exodus 2:11).

There is a deep counterpoint in the positioning of this episode in Parshas EMOR, which centers on the special purity demanded of the priests. Shulamis Bas Divri is the exemplar of the opposite: immorality. While the holiness of the priesthood requires separation and the making of distinctions between pure and impure, fine and blemished, she sought to erase distinctions, greeting everyone with a naive “Peace be upon you, peace be upon you”. As if friendly chatter is enough to turn evil into good. It was Shulamis Bas Divri’s endeavor to erase distinctions that laid her open to the immoral relationship which led to the birth of the blasphemer. The latter, however, discovered that, whether you like it or not, this IS a world of distinctions. While the blasphemer was an Israelite through his mother, he had no tribal affiliation, since this comes only through the father. Accordingly, the blasphemer had no place in the Israelite camp.

Contemporary political correctness will cry out in the voice of Shulamis Bas Divri that he should have been given a place — isn’t it unfair that he should be excluded because of a quirk of birth? Endless similar questions can be asked about other commandments in our parshah. Why should a blemished priest not be allowed to serve in the Temple? Why should a divorcee not be allowed to marry a priest? etc. etc.

Rashi brings a midrash that the blasphemer “went out” (Lev. 24:10) in the sense that he departed from the Torah: he mocked the idea that the Sanctuary Show-Bread (subject of the preceding section), which was eaten by the priests when it was nine days old, was a fitting institution in the Sanctuary of the King (Rashi ad loc.). The blasphemer could not accept G-d’s Torah the way it is. He wanted to adapt the Torah fit his own personal views.

There was a way that even the blasphemer could have found his place. As quoted at the outset, even a MAMZER TALMID CHOCHOM has precedence over the High Priest. If the blasphemer had been willing to submit himself to G-d and accept the position G-d put him in, he could have been saved. But he was not willing to submit and instead he opened his mouth and poured out a torrent of abuse.

Over sixty years previous to this, when Moses saw this man’s father striking Shulamis Bas Divri’s husband, Moses knew that there was no potential. “And he looked here and there and he saw that there was no man [that no man would come forth from him to convert, Rashi] and he struck the Egyptian” (Ex. 2:12). The rabbis taught that Moses “struck” him by invoking the Name of HaShem. It was precisely this name that the son of the Egyptian’s illicit relationship blasphemed. Prior to the Giving of the Torah, Moses inflicted instant justice on the father. However, after the Giving of the Torah, Moses was subject to the Torah like everyone else and he had to wait to hear from G-d how to deal with the blaspheming son.

The account of the punishment of the blasphemer includes related laws of punishments for killing and the damages that must be paid for inflicting injury to humans and animals. The cycles of crime and its penalties and payments revolve from generation to generation, but this is not apparent to the onlooker who sees only the here and now and does not understand what was before and what will come afterward.

Shabbat Shalom!!!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

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Lesson 30

Parashah 30: Kedoshim (Set Apart people)19:1-20:27

[In regular years read with Parashah 29, in leap read separately]
Kedoshim : Holiness code, Parents, Shabbat n idols of chapters 19-20 consist of 64 verses and 51 mitzvot

Exercise the mitzvot in Disciplinary lifestyle

Key instruction: Love first Elohim with all our hearts, mind and nefesh and then exhibit love to people those in our circle of life, man, Praise Ha Shem, desire to be righteousness, set-apartness, Non-Mixture concept, always speaks the truth, do justice in judgment,shomer, obey do them

19:1(i) And ADONAI spoke toMosheh, saying:
19:2 דבר אל־כל־עדת בני־ישׂראל ואמרת אלהם קדשׁים תהיו כי קדושׁ אני יהוה אלהיכם׃

Daber el-kol-adat benei-Yisrael veamar taalehem kedoshim tihyu ki kadosh ANI ADONAI Eloheichem:

Speak to all the congregation of the benai Yisrael, and say to them, You shall be set-apart: for
ANI ADONAI (יהוה) Eloheichem am Set-Apart.
19:3 You shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep My Shabbatot:
ANI ADONAI (יהוה) Eloheichem.
19:4 Turn you not to elilim (idols), nor make to yourselves molten gods:
ANI ADONAI (יהוה) Eloheichem.
19:5 And if you offer a sacrifice of shelamim to ADONAI (יהוה), you shall offer it at your own will.
19:6 It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought to remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire.
19:7 And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it [is] abominable; it shall not be accepted.
19:8 Therefore everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity because he has profaned what is set-apart to ADONAI (יהוה); and that person shall be cut off from his people.
19:9 ובקצרכם את־קציר ארצכם לא תכלה פאת שׂדך לקצר ולקט קצירך לא תלקט׃

Uvekutzrechem et-ketzir artzechem lo tekhaleh peat sadkha liktzor veleket ketzirkha lo telaket:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.
19:10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: ANI ADONAI (יהוה) Eloheichem.
19:11 You shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.
19:12 And you shall not swear by My Name falsely, so profane Hashem Eloheicha:ANI ADONAI (יהוה).
19:13 ‘You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning.
19:14 You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind but shall fear Eloheicha: ANI ADONAI (יהוה).
19:15 (RY:v, LY:ii)
You shall do no avel bamisphat (perversion of justice): you shall not be partial to the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: [but] in fairly shall you judge your neighbor.
19:16 You shall not go up and down [as] a rakhil (talebearer, slanderer) among your people: neither shall you stand against the blood of your neighbor:
ANI ADONAI (יהוה).
19:17 לֹֽא־תִשְׂנָ֥א אֶת־אָחִ֖יךָ בִּלְבָבֶ֑ךָ הוֹכֵ֤חַ תּוֹכִ֙יחַ֙ אֶת־עֲמִיתֶ֔ךָ וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֥א עָלָ֖יו חֵֽטְא׃

Lo-tisna et-‘achicha bilvavecha; hocheach tochiach et-‘amitecha, velo-tisa alav chet.

You shall not hate your brother in your heart: you shall cautiously rebuke your kinsmen, so that you won’t carry sin because of him.

Mitzvah of Non-Mixture
19:18 You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the benai your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: ANI ADONAI (יהוה).
19:19 You shall keep My Chukkot. You shall not let your cattle gender with a diverse kind: you shall not sow your field with mingled seed (kil’ayim): neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woolen come upon you.
19:20 And whosoever lies carnally with a woman, that [is] a bondmaid, betrothed to a husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.
19:21 And he shall bring his Asham to ADONAI (יהוה), to the door of the tent of meeting, [even] a ram for a Asham.
19:22 And the Kohen shall make an kapporah for him with the ram of the Asham before ADONAI (יהוה) for his sin which he has done: and the sin which he has done shall be forgiven him.
19:23 (LY:ii)
And when you shall come into the eretz, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then you shall count the fruit thereof as arel (uncircumcised): three years shall it be as arel (uncircumcised) to you: it shall not be eaten of.
19:24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be kodesh an offering of praise ADONAI (יהוה) [withal].
19:25 And in the fifth year shall you eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield to you the increase thereof:
ANI ADONAI (יהוה) Eloheichem.
19:26 You shall not eat [any thing] with the blood: neither shall you use enchantment, nor observe times.
19:27 You shall not round the corners of the hair of your heads, neither shall you trim the corners of your beard. (see Vayikra 21:5; Tehillim 133:2)
19:28 You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you (tattoos?):
ANI ADONAI (יהוה).
19:29 Do not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a harlot; lest the land fall to commit fornication, and the land become full of wickedness.
19:30 You shall keep My Shabbatot, and reverence My sanctuary: ANI ADONAI (יהוה).
19:31 Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be tamei (defiled) by them: ANI ADONAI (יהוה) Eloheichem.
19:32 You shall rise up before the grey head, and honor the face of the zaken (old man), and fear Eloheicha: ANI ADONAI (יהוה).
19:33(RY:vi, LY:iv)
‘And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him.
19:34 [But] the stranger that dwells with you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the eretz Mitzrayim:
ANI ADONAI (יהוה) Eloheichem.
19:35 You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of weight, or in measure.
19:36 Tzedek scale balance, tzedek weights, a tzedel ephah, and a tzedel hin, shall you have:
ANI ADONAI (יהוה) Eloheichem,
which brought you out of the eretz Mitzrayim.
19:37 Therefore shall you shomer all My statutes, and all My mishpatim, and do them:
ANI ADONAI (יהוה).

19:27 Beard – berd:- To better understand the significance of the man’s beard, go back to man’s beginning when Elohim created Adam and Eve (Gen 1:27) The physical traits distinguish man from a woman. Beard speaks of man’s masculinity, nobility adornment, dignity, royal, leadership, authority, power of speech. It also symbolizes channels of subconscious set apart energy that flows from above to the human soul. To remove it is an offense against nature. BM84a describes the beard is “the adornment of a man’s face while Encyclopedia Judaica a man without his beard is compared to a eunuch. The man’s beard is like the manes of the lion known to the king of the beast. Shaving one’s hair or beard often was a sign of mourning.
Why does a certain part of scripture man cut their beard?
to cut both hair and beard as a token of grief or distress. Yeshayahu 15:2,
To mutilate the beard of another was considered a great indignity (see Shemuel Bef 10:4; compare Yeshayahu 50:6, “plucked off the hair”).

In the verse vs 28 It was an ancient custom for people to cut their flesh in mourning for the dead as they are associated with conjuring up dead spirits and the gods of the netherworld, the Yisraelites are not to emulate from the pagan nations. In Dvarim 14:1 the Torah states that this is forbidden because, You are children to ADONAI, implying that it is disgraceful to Elohim for His children to inflict wounds on their bodies as signs of mourning. — (see 1 Melekhim 18:28; Yirmeyahu 16:6, Yirmeyahu 41:5). Disfiguring one’s body is dishonored to Hashem Cutting one’s flesh for the dead and tattooing (or painting) one’s body had religious significance among Yisrael’s pagan neighbors.
Cuttings / INCISION. A practice in Canaanitish heathen worship. Compare Vayikra 21:5. nor make any cuttings in their flesh. Devarim 14:1. 1 Melekhim 18:28. Jer_48:37.
H3610 כּלאים kil’ayim BDB Definition:1) two kinds, mixture1a) forbidden practice among cattle (cross-breeding), seeds
ANI ADONAI mention 16 times

Holiness (K’dushah) and Righteousness (Tzedaka) go together but they are not the same, there is a difference between the two. Righteousness is a free gift from G-d which every believer acquires simply by accepting Yeshua as the Mashiach (Messiah) of Yisrael (Yisrael), and inviting Him into their heart through repentance by faith (Teshuva derekh Emunah). Righteousness is a free gift imputed by faith because of the death and resurrection of Mashiach. He was bruised for our transgressions and took our iniquities upon Himself and through Him, we are declared righteous, end of the story (see Yeshayahu 53). Therefore there are no levels of righteousness. You are either righteous by the shed blood of Mashiach, offered on your behalf or you’re not! Everyone therefore who is saved has the same righteousness.
Idea of Set apartness – holiness> Holiness – There are levels of holiness. The ultimate level which we should all be striving for is. Holiness does not make you more righteous, but it does allow you to enjoy the righteousness you received as a free gift to the maximum extent of the promises of G-d

Holiness is how we walk and live our life as a believer, where we go (places of activities), what we do (activities involved), how we think (our hearts altitude), how to deal with people (care, considerate, helpful, resourceful), what we say (use of tongues, encouragement), what we wear (modesty attire) and what we eat (clean and unclean food idolatry free) . In the Lev 19 – 20 is known as holiness code. Holiness is how we respond to the teaching and instruction of the Holy Spirit. It required action. If we choose to live carelessly our credential testimony as an ambassador of Moshiach will be let down
Beresheit, Deception in Garden, clean and unclean food, Holy and profane
Idea of Non- Mixture

read Mattityahu 13:24 – 30; 2 Corinthians 6:14- 18

Lesson 28

Parashah 28: Metzora (Person afflicted with Tzra’at) 14:1-15:33
[In regular year read with Parashah 27, in leap years read separately]

14:1(i) And Adonai spoke to Moshe, saying:

14:2 This shall be the Torat ha metzora in the day of his Tohorah (cleansing):

The First stage of Metzora’s purification (2-8)

He shall be brought to the Kohen:

14:3 And the Kohen shall go forth out of the camp; and the Kohen shall look, and, Hinnei, [if] the nega of tzara’at be healed in the tzara;

From Arrogance to humility

two birds alive, cedar wood, scarlet thread, and hyssop

14:4 Then shall the Kohen command to take for him that is to be Taher (cleansed) two birds alive [and] Tahor (clean), and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:

14:5 And the Kohen shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over mayim chayyim (running water):

14:6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird [that was] killed (shachat) over the mayim chayyim (running water):

14:7 And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be Taher (cleansed) from the tzara’at seven times, and shall pronounce him Tahor (clean), and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.

14:8 And he that is to be Tahor (cleansed) shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be Tahor (clean): and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent shivat yamim.

The Second stage-Shaving

14:9 But it shall be on the yom hashevi’i, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, erev all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be Tahor (clean).

The Final stage of Purification – offering

14:10 And on the eighth day he shall take two he lambs Tamiym, and one ewe lamb of the first year Tamiym, and three tenth deals of fine flour [for] a minchah, mingled with oil, and one log of oil.

14:11 And the Kohen that makes [him] Tahor (clean) shall present the man that is to be made Tahor (clean), and those things, before Adonai (יהוה), [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:

14:12 And the Kohen shall take one he lamb, and offer him for a asham (trespass offering), and the log of oil, and wave them [for] a tenufah (wave offering) before Adonai (יהוה):

14:13 (LY:ii)

And he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the chatat (sin offering), and the Olah, in the kadosh place: for as the chatat (sin offering), [is] the Kohen’s, [so is] the asham (trespass offering): it [is] most kadosh:

14:14 And the Kohen shall take [some] of the blood of the asham (trespass offering), and the Kohen shall put [it] upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be Tahor (cleansed), and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot:

14:15 And the Kohen shall take [some] of the log of oil, and pour [it] into the palm of his own left hand:

14:16 And the Kohen shall dip his right finger in the oil that [is] in his left hand, and shall sprinkle of the oil with his finger seven times before Adonai (יהוה):

14:17 And of the rest of the oil that [is] in his hand shall the Kohen put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be Taher (cleansed), and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the asham (trespass offering):

14:18 And the remnant of the oil that [is] in the Kohen’s hand he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be Taher (cleansed): and the Kohen shall make an atonement for him before Adonai (יהוה).

14:19 And the Kohen shall offer the chatat (sin offering),, and make an atonement for him that is to be Taher (cleansed) from his Tum’ah; and afterward he shall kill the Olah:

14:20 And the Kohen shall offer the Olah and the minchah upon the altar: and the Kohen shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be Tahor (clean).

14:21 (RY:v,LY:iii)

And if he [be] poor, and cannot get so much; then he shall take one lamb [for] a asham (trespass offering) to be waved, to make an atonement for him, and one tenth deal of fine flour mingled with oil for a minchah, and a log of oil;

14:22 And two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get; and the one shall be a chatat (sin offering),, and the other a Olah.

14:23 And he shall bring them on the eighth day for his Tohorah (cleansing) to the Kohen, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, before Adonai (יהוה).

14:24 And the Kohen shall take the lamb of the asham (trespass offering), and the log of oil, and the Kohen shall wave them [for] a tenufah (wave offering) before Adonai (יהוה):

14:25 And he shall kill the lamb of the asham (trespass offering), and the Kohen shall take [some] of the blood of the asham (trespass offering), and put [it] upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be Taher (cleansed), and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot:

14:26 And the Kohen shall pour of the oil into the palm of his own left hand:

14:27 And the Kohen shall sprinkle with his right finger [some] of the oil that [is] in his left hand seven times before Adonai (יהוה):

14:28 And the Kohen shall put of the oil that [is] in his hand upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be Taher (cleansed), and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the place of the blood of the asham (trespass offering):

14:29 And the rest of the oil that [is] in the Kohen’s hand he shall put upon the head of him that is to be Taher (cleansed), to make an atonement for him before Adonai (יהוה).

14:30 And he shall offer the one of the turtledoves, or of the young pigeons, such as he can get;

14:31 [erev] such as he is able to get, the one [for] a chatat (sin offering),, and the other [for] a Olah, with the minchah: and the Kohen shall make an atonement for him that is to be Taher (cleansed) before Adonai (יהוה).

14:32 This [is] the Torah [of him] in whom [is] the nega of tzara’at, whose hand is not able to get [that which pertains] to his Tohorah (cleansing).

14:33 (RY:vi, LY:iv)

And Adonai (יהוה) spoke to Moshe and to Aharon, saying,

14:34 When you be come into the eretz of Kenaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put the nega of tzara’at in a beit of the eretz of your possession;

14:35 And he that owns ha beit shall come and tell the Kohen, saying, It seems to me [there is] as it were a nega in ha beit:

14:36 Then the Kohen shall command that they empty ha beit, before the Kohen go [into it] to see the nega, that all that [is] in ha beit be not made tamei: and afterward the Kohen shall go in to see ha beit:

14:37 And he shall look on the nega, and, Hinnei, [if] the nega [be] in the walls of ha beit with hollow strakes, greenish or reddish, which in sight [are] lower than the wall;

14:38 Then the Kohen shall go out of ha beit to the door of ha beit, and shut up ha beit shivat yamim:

14:39 And the Kohen shall come again the yom hashevi’i, and shall look: and, Hinnei, [if] the nega be spread in the walls of ha beit;

14:40 Then the Kohen shall command that they take away the stones in which the nega [is], and they shall cast them into an tamei place without the city:

14:41 And he shall cause ha beit to be scraped within round about, and they shall pour out the dust that they scrape off without the city into an tamei place:

14:42 And they shall take other stones, and put [them] in the place of those stones; and he shall take other morter, and shall plaister ha beit.

14:43 And if the nega come again, and break out in ha beit, after that he has taken away the stones, and after he has scraped ha beit, and after it is plaistered;

14:44 Then the Kohen shall come and look, and, Hinnei, [if] the nega be spread in ha beit, it [is] a fretting tzara’at in ha beit: it [is] tamei.

14:45 And he shall break down ha beit, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the morter of ha beit; and he shall carry [them] forth out of the city into an tamei place.

14:46 Moreover he that goes into ha beit all the while that it is shut up shall be tamei until the erev.

14:47 And he that lies in ha beit shall wash his clothes; and he that eats in ha beit shall wash his clothes.

14:48 And if the Kohen shall come in, and look [upon it], and, Hinnei, the nega has not spread in ha beit, after ha beit was plaistered: then the Kohen shall pronounce ha beit Tahor (clean), because the nega is healed.

14:49 And he shall take to purify’ ha beit two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:

14:50 And he shall kill the one of the birds in an earthen vessel over mayim chayyim (running water):

14:51 And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the mayim chayyim (running water), and sprinkle ha beit seven times:

14:52 And he shall purify ha beit with the blood of the bird, and with the mayim chayyim (running water), and with the living bird, and with the cedar wood, and with the hyssop, and with the scarlet:

14:53 But he shall let go the living bird out of the city into the open fields, and make an atonement for ha beit: and it shall be Tahor (clean).

14:54 (LY:v)

This [is] the Torah for all manner of nega of tzara’at, and scall,

14:55 And for the tzara’at of a garment, and of a beit,

14:56 And for a rising, and for a scab, and for a bright spot:

14:57 To teach when [it is] tamei, and when [it is] Tahor (clean): this [is] the Torah of tzara’at.

shivat yamim – seven days

The Eight day: Type of offering Sin offering and burnt offering. Eight is a symbol of the glory of Adonai (יהוה), it is the symbol of the New beginning, It is a symbol of the perfect Kingdom (after the 7th millennium 8th millennium) Eight is a symbol of  Moshiach. Tumah is a person dying off the living dead

Parashat Kedoshim / פרשת קדשים

LET’S STUDY ONKELOS A Guide for Rabbis, Teachers and Torah Students to Study and Teach the Parashat Hashavua through the Eyes of its Most Important Translator By Stanley M. Wagner and Israel Drazin Based on the five volume, Onkelos on the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy), Understanding the Bible Text, by Israel Drazin and Stanley M. Wagner, published by Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem/New York, 2006-2010.

STUDY GUIDE KEDOSHIM (CHAPTER 19:1–20:27) SUMMARY OF THE TORAH PORTION Once again, the people of Israel are commanded to be holy and to “imitate” God; holiness is defined as commitment to the laws outlined in the Torah portion, which include: revering parents and the Sabbath, rejecting idolatry, offering sacrifices in a proper fashion, sharing bounty with the less fortunate, acting honestly in business activities, upholding the principles of justice and engaging in decent social relations; it is also necessary to observe laws that may not seem rational, such as not crossbreeding animals, or planting with mixed seeds, or wearing garments made of linen and wool woven together; especially heinous is giving one’s child to the idol Molech; the punishments for violating the laws of forbidden sexual unions are outlined.

THE TARGUMIST’S TREATMENT OF IDOLS In biblical times, the most vexing ideological challenge confronting the Israelites, from the appearance of Abraham through the period of the prophets, was polytheism and idolatry, in all of their various constructs. The prohibition of idolatry is emphasized in the “Ten Commandments.” Yet, as seen in the excoriations of the prophets and evidence in archaeological excavations, the Israelites were drawn to it, and their faithlessness and disloyalty to God and His commands had serious adverse consequences for them. But even following the destruction of the first Temple in 586 BCE, when the more degrading forms of idolatry evaporated from Jewish life, Babylonian, Persian, and Hellenistic manifestations of polytheism and idolatry continued to attract spiritually weaker Jews. (See Great Confrontations in Jewish History, edited by Stanley M. Wagner and Allen Breck, University of Denver, 1977, “Paganism and Biblical Judaism,” Nachum Sarna, pages 1-20 and “Hellenism and Judaism,” Samuel Sandmel, pages 21-38).

The targumist, who lived in the fourth century CE, used his translation to degrade idolatry, using derisive terms to describe it. Our “Onkelos Highlight” (page 156)1 explains: The Onkelos targumist, ever respectful of God, was concerned to avoid creating any misleading intimation of divinity to idols, thus, when the Torah uses a form of “el,” “god,” to describe an idol, he does not insert this noun into his translation, but downgrades the idol to a sham, thereby precluding his unsophisticated readers from imagining that many gods exist. He substitutes a form of the words “dachal” or “ta’avat.” The first denotes “a fearful thing” and the second “a mistake.” The former appears only once in the Leviticus translation, in 19:4, while the latter occurs thrice, in 19:4, 26:1, and 26:30. The use of insulting descriptions for idols is also found in the Bible. In 26:30, for example, Scripture uses “giluleikhem” for idols, a word meaning “dung.” The Midrash Sifra lists ten disparaging epithets by which Hebrew Scripture denigrates idols; neither “dachal” nor “ta’avat” is included, as they are both Aramaic terms. The acceptance of the practice to utilize disparaging names to describe paganism is discussed in the Talmud, as we point out in our appendix on page 308. The frequent use of disparaging descriptions of heathen practices and idol worship is based on Deuteronomy 12:3, “you should destroy their name” (see Rashi on that verse, “give them a disparaging name,” and the Babylonian Talmud, Avodah Zarah, Temurah 28b, Sifra) and Deuteronomy 7:26: “You shall not bring an abomination into your house and be under a ban like it. You should utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is a banned thing.” See also the Jerusalem Talmud, Avodah Zarah 3:6 and the commentary to 19:4.

On this passage, Rashi states: “these are their social customs (Targum Onkelos’s word), things which they consider to have the loftiness of statues. They include theaters and stadiums.” Hoffmann (Das Buch Leviticus 11:14) adds holidays where levity deteriorates into lewdness. In 19:4 of our parashah and commentary, “IDOLS . . . IDOLS” (page 146) we focus on a verse that has two statements about idols. It reads: “Do not turn after ha’elilim or make elohei of cast metal for yourselves.” The targumist uses two different disparaging nouns to define the root el, as is explained in our commentary on page 146: 1 All page numbers refer to the Onkelos on the Torah volume. 3 Some commentators, such as ibn Ezra, Rashi, and ibn Kaspi, (1) derive (the meaning of “el” and “elil,” the latter being a form of the former) from “al”, “nothing,” as in Job 24:25, and see it as a disparaging description of an idol’s lack of power and usefulness. Others (2) take it to be a form of (the majestic plural Elohim) “God,” written diminutively, and suggest that the singular disparages the idol. The plural form denotes something that is considered “great”: the noun “Elohim,” “God,” is used to describe the great deity, a mountain of Elohim means a large mountain, and a judge is called “Elohim.” The singular, on the other hand, denotes the opposite: in Job 13:4, “rofe’ei elil” means “ineffectual physicians”; and in Jeremiah 14:14, “kesem elil” denotes “ineffectual (or worthless) divination.” Since … the average Targum reader might suppose that the verse is ascribing divinity to idols or suggesting that many gods exist, our targumist substitutes disparaging nouns that literally mean “a fearful thing” and “a mistake.” The targumist uses two distinct terms for Scripture’s “gods” because of his usual, oft-noted preference not to repeat words. ADDITIONAL DISCUSSIONS ON ONKELOS Since monotheism is the foundation of Judaism, it is quite understandable that its greatest thinkers fought strenuously to eradicate every vestige of idolatry from the private and public life of the Jewish people. However, one can question whether this practice shows proper sensitivity to other religions. Christians were bothered by some statements and censored parts of the Talmud and prayer book during the Middle Ages to expunge what they considered disparaging references to Christianity. An example is the “Aleinu” prayer, originally included in the High Holiday service, but which was incorporated in the daily, Sabbath, and festival prayer book, since about the fourteenth century. It is recited three times daily at the end of each of the three daily services by Jews. Some sages opine that this prayer was original composed by Joshua after he led the Israelites into the Holy Land. Others suggest that the Babylonian sage, Rav, wrote it. It reads, “for they bow down to vanity and emptiness and pray to a god that offers no salvation” but we bow and worship and offer thanksgiving before the King of all kings. These words were derived from the prophet Isaiah in 30:7 and 45:20, centuries before Christianity emerged.

But in the year 1370, a Jewish convert to Christianity maligned the Jewish community by insisting that the words were directed against Christian beliefs. The accusation was refuted, but the hostility continued until the sentence was dropped from the Ashkenazic prayer book. In the Italian prayer ritual, “they bow” was altered to “they bowed,” and “vanity and emptiness” became “idols.” Only now, with an enlightened Christian community who understand that it refers to idol worship, the ancient wording is finding its way back into the prayer book.

We have two questions: Since the Torah does not use disparaging language in describing idolatry in these verses, by what authority does a translator have the right to substitute his own language for Torah words if he thinks he has a good reason for doing so?

Secondly, in our age, characterized by efforts of many religious traditions to help unify the world that is badly in need of unity, is it really necessary to discredit other religions or degrade them in any way, which only causes inter religious conflict? Each religious tradition claims supremacy in one form or another. How does it help “puff up” our commitment to Judaism today by disrespecting other religions?

GENERAL DISCUSSION Let us focus on what many people consider one of the most important verses in the Torah. In 19:2 (pages 146 and 147), we find an opening statement that introduces the entire parashah, laden with commandments. It reads, “You must be holy, for I, the Lord your God am holy.” This is the explanation we offer in our commentary, “YOU MUST BE HOLY” (page 147): Nachmanides states that the Torah cautions the Israelites to embrace a holiness that transcends the mere observance of the law by practicing moderation in all matters, even in behavior that is permitted, for it is possible to become a base person even while technically fulfilling the Torah laws. Thus, for example, the Torah does not specifically prohibit drunkenness and gluttony.

Yet, the requirement to be holy proscribes such inappropriate behavior. This is the concept introduced earlier by Maimonides in his Shemoneh Perakim: a person must develop habits of behavior according to the golden mean. Sforno adds another view, that this verse and the chapter that follows enshrine the concept of “imitatio dei,” the requirement to emulate the ways of God. He felt that this is the teaching embodied in the concept that God created man “in His image and after His likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

The Midrash Leviticus Rabbah has still a third and a fourth interpretation: many of the essential laws of the Torah can be derived from statements contained in this Leviticus chapter, and these teachings parallel the laws of the Ten Commandments. Sifra has a fifth idea: the Midrash sees God explaining, “Just as I, God, am set apart, so you must be set apart,” for the definition of “kadosh,” usually translated “holiness,” is “separation,” the meaning it has in verse 24. This, of course, does not imply that the Israelites are as holy as God, for as stated in I Samuel 2:22, “There is none so holy as the Lord.” The mandate of the verse is clearly the requirement to aspire to “holiness.” It is then immediately followed by the practical command to revere one’s parents. The intent of this entire chapter must be, therefore, that by observance of the commandments, and beyond, we can achieve “holiness.” It is not by asceticism, and not by disengaging from the world, but by an encounter with the world in a particular fashion that we can sanctify our lives. But doesn’t this proposal also carry with it some dangers?

How do we 5 protect ourselves from assimilation forces, from the potential for moral pollution that is found everywhere?

How do we deal with T.V. sets and computers, and videos and movies, which are harbingers of values and ideals inimical to Judaism?

If kadosh also means “separate,” is that a suggestion that Jews should separate from the rest of society to avoid the potential for the problems listed above?

Do you see some Jews doing this?

Are they violating the essence of Judaism?

What is the proper way to avoid the potential for failure?

We cited Maimonides in the quote from our commentary and said that he encouraged people to act according to the “golden mean,” the midpoint between avoidance and excess. However, Maimonidean scholars say that this statement was made for the average person who needed a clearly stated rule. But Maimonides encouraged people who are more intelligent to sometimes, when appropriate, to go toward an extreme. For example, the general rule for average people is that they should not give too much charity and should not be overly modest; but an intelligent person may evaluate a situation and see the need to give more charity in a certain instance and to be more modest at all times.

Does this distinction between an average person and a person who is more intelligent make sense to you? Why?

FOR FURTHER STUDY 1. See 19:3 and commentary, “SABBATH” (page 147, and the appendix note, page 309). The targumist often splits one biblical word into two words. 2. See 19:16 and commentary, “SPEAK SLANDER [LITERALLY, SPEAK DESTRUCTION]” (page 151, and appendix note for this verse, page 309). The targumist paraphrases an important phase in an unusual fashion. 3. See 20:2 and commentary, “HOUSE OF ISRAEL” (page page 159, continuing on page 158). Targum Onkelos changes the biblical am ha’aretz, “people of the land” into a phrase that explains it for a very important reason.

Parashat Yitro / פרשת יתרו

Parshas Yisro

Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st Aliya: Yisro brings Moshe’s wife and two sons to join him in the desert. In 18:10, Yisro proclaims his belief in Hashem (G-d) and identifies His manifest justice as the primary motive for his belief and conversion.

2nd & 3rd Aliyot: Yisro observes Moshe’s daily schedule as chief administrator, judge, and teacher. He advises his son-in-law to delegate some responsibilities to a hierarchy of worthy judges and administrators. This would allow Moshe to focus his attention on those issues that demand his specific attention. Moshe listens to Yisro’s advice.

4th Aliya: This begins the preparation for Revelation. It is the 1st day of Sivan, and the Bnai Yisroel have been in the desert for 43 days. Moshe is told by Hashem to explain to the nation that they are a “kingdom of priests…”

5th Aliya: Moshe tells the nation of G-d’s expectations and they respond, “all that Hashem will command we will do.” Moshe is further instructed to tell the people to prepare themselves by immersing themselves and their clothing in a Mikveh, and to remain apart form their spouses for 3 days. Mt. Sinai is to be fenced off so that no person or animal could ascend the mountain until the shofar sounded the conclusion of Revelation. On the 3rd day, Revelation began with lightning, thunder, the sounding of a Shofar, and Mt. Sinai completely engulfed in clouds, smoke, and fire. Moshe led the nation to assemble at the foot of a trembling Mt.Sinai.

6th Aliya: Hashem summoned Moshe to ascend the mountain and instructed him to re-emphasize the prohibition against anyone ascending the mountain during Revelation. Moshe descends and discharges G-d’s wishes. With Moshe standing among the people at the foot of the mountain, Hashem spoke the Ten Commandments to the entire people.

7th Aliya: This last Aliya describes the reaction of the nation to Revelation. In 20:19, the Pasuk factually states that the Bnai Yisroel (Jewish Nation) collectively heard G-d speak. It is among the most fundamentally important statements in the entire Torah. The Parsha concludes with the three commandments regarding the Mizbeach (Altar).

Parsha Summary by Rabbi Aron Tendler



Adam was created for the highest mission, to “fill the earth and conquer it and rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and every living being swarming on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). But Adam fell from his mission, and instead of “tending and guarding” the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15), he was driven out to become slave to the earth: “With the sweat of your brow you will eat bread.” (Gen. 3:19).

The only way for the Children of Adam to escape this servitude is through the Shabbos, which each week releases man from slavery to the material world and the battle for survival, lifting him above it to the world of DAAS, the knowledge and awareness of G-d.

Thus when Moses first went into Pharaoh, his initial request was that the Children of Israel should have a holiday from their slavery: “Let us please go for a journey of three days into the wilderness, and there we will sacrifice to HaShem our G-d” (Ex. 5:3).

Pharaoh’s immediate reaction was to resist the idea: “Why are you disturbing the people from their labors, go back to your tasks. You are causing them to cease from their tasks” (Ex. 5:5). The Hebrew for “you are disturbing” is taPhRiyOO, containing the word PHARAOH — as if Moses and Aaron are the tyrants. The Hebrew for “You are causing them to cease” is ve-hiSHBATem, containing the word SHABBOS. Pharaoh’s scheme for preventing DAAS spreading from the head, Moses, to the Children of Israel, the body, was to make the Children of Israel so busy with this-worldliness that they would not have TIME to be aware of G-d. And indeed the Children of Israel became so wearied by their intensified servitude on the threshold of redemption that “they did not listen to Moses because of shortness of spirit and hard work” (Gen. 6:9).

Moses had to legislate the Shabbos because there is a wicked force in man — Pharaoh — that will not allow him to rest from the world until he must by law! Shabbos was the first commandment given to the Children of Israel directly after their entry into the wilderness following the crossing of the Red Sea (Rashi on Ex. 15:25). Shabbos — SHEVITA, the willful cessation of and resting from MELACHAH, deliberate, manipulative labor — is the very key to man’s freedom from the tyranny of this world.