Parashat Emor, The importance of Sanctifying the Name of the Lord.


 This week’s reading is from Parashat Emor (Vayikra / Leviticus 21:1-24:23) the Lord told Moshe to speak to the Cohanim about the sons of Aharon to be careful not to defile themselves by touching a dead person among his people.  One exception was given for the nearest relatives, father, mother, son, daughter, or brother (21:1-3).  The scripture goes on to say ד   לֹא יִטַּמָּא בַּעַל בְּעַמָּיו לְהֵחַלּוֹ: ה   לֹא-יִקְרְחֻה [יִקְרְחוּ] קָרְחָה בְּרֹאשָׁם וּפְאַת זְקָנָם לֹא יְגַלֵּחוּ וּבִבְשָֹרָם לֹא יִשְֹרְטוּ שָֹרָטֶת: ו   קְדשִׁים יִהְיוּ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם וְלֹא יְחַלְּלוּ שֵׁם אֱלֹהֵיהֶם כִּי אֶת-אִשֵּׁי יְהֹוָה לֶחֶם אֱלֹהֵיהֶם הֵם מַקְרִיבִם וְהָיוּ קֹדֶשׁ:  21:4 ‘He shall not defile himself as a relative by marriage among his people, and so profane himself.  21:5 ‘They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh.  21:6 ‘They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they present the offerings by fire to the Lord, the food of their God; so they shall be holy. (NASB)  It is interesting to note the Mitzvot not to shave making baldness on our heads, not to round the edges of our beards, and not to make cuts in our flesh is placed in parallel with defiling one’s self and becoming unclean by reason of touching the dead.  Does one make himself unclean before the Lord by reason of shaving the head for the dead, or rounding the beards and making a cut in the flesh (i.e. tattoos and other religious purposes such as was done by the prophets of baal in the Neviim section of the Tanach).  The Cohanim are not to take a woman who has profaned herself as a prostitute or to take a woman who is divorced from her husband (21:7).  In addition to this, the daughter (unmarried) that profanes herself by prostitution, she profanes her father by this and she is to be put to death (21:9).  The priest that is anointed with oil shall not tear his cloths, uncover his head, or defile himself by a dead person, not even his nearest relative (21:11), the Cohen is not to leave the sanctuary or profane the sanctuary in any way (21:12).  The person who has a defect, who is lame, blind, or disfigured face or deformed limb, broken foot or hand, hunchback or dwarf, defect in his eye or skin malady, or crushed testicles (unique), no one from the descendents of Aharon is to come near to offer the sacrifices before the Lord (21:18-21).  The Cohen that approaches any of the holy things in his uncleanness will be cut off from before the Lord (22:3).  The Lord says that ט   וְשָׁמְרוּ אֶת-מִשְׁמַרְתִּי וְלֹא-יִשְֹאוּ עָלָיו חֵטְא וּמֵתוּ בוֹ כִּי יְחַלְּלֻהוּ אֲנִי יְהוָֹה מְקַדְּשָׁם:  22:9 ‘They shall therefore keep My charge, so that they will not bear sin because of it and die thereby because they profane it; I am the Lord who sanctifies them.  (NASB)  Additional commands are given in Vayikra 22:10-15 on who may and may not eat of the holy gifts.  The reason being טו   וְלֹא יְחַלְּלוּ אֶת-קָדְשֵׁי בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל אֵת אֲשֶׁר-יָרִימוּ לַיהוָֹה: טז   וְהִשִּׂיאוּ אוֹתָם עֲוֹן אַשְׁמָה בְּאָכְלָם אֶת-קָדְשֵׁיהֶם כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָֹה מְקַדְּשָׁם:   22:15 ‘They shall not profane the holy gifts of the sons of Israel which they offer to the Lord, 22:16 and so cause them to bear punishment for guilt by eating their holy gifts; for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.’‘ (NASB) The entering into the sanctuary in uncleanness and eating of the food that is given to the Cohanim results in the bearing of the guilt of sin.  We are then told that the animals brought for an offering before the Lord are to be perfect and without defect (22:18-25).  In addition to this, the Lord says to keep His mitzvot (commandments) so that one does not profane the name of the Lord (22:31-32).  The Lord then declares His Moedim (Appointed times) and the scriptures declare in these appointed times that God is sanctified (We sanctify God in our lives by doing these things).  The first Moedim is to work six days and rest on the seventh, the Shabbat rest (23:3), the Festival of Pesach (Passover) (23:5) the feast of Matzah (Unleavened bread) (23:6), and the Festival of Shavuot (Pentecost) (10-13).  The Feast of trumpets and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) are mentioned in Vayikra 23:26-32.  The concluding Moedim (Appointed time) is the Feast of Succot (Tabernacles) that is commanded to be observed in Vayikra 23:33-44.  The portion of scripture for this week concludes with the commands on blaspheming the Name of the Lord and on a person causing personal injury to another, יט   וְאִישׁ כִּי-יִתֵּן מוּם בַּעֲמִיתוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשָֹה כֵּן יֵעָשֶֹה לּוֹ:   24:19 ‘If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him:(NASB) the command of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is given.  The Scriptures state כב   מִשְׁפַּט אֶחָד יִהְיֶה לָכֶם כַּגֵּר כָּאֶזְרָח יִהְיֶה כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם:   24:22There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the Lord your God.’‘ (NASB)  The command of only “one standard” (מִשְׁפַּט אֶחָד, one judgment) is given for everyone living in the land of Yisrael so the punishment meets the crime that was committed.  A person could not exact greater punishments for lesser crimes.  This Mitzvah on an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth demonstrates the Holiness of God and the greatness of His mercy and on the reciprocation of mercy unto others who have done us harm.  Read More here.