Emor (Speak to the Kohen)

This Torah portion gives the laws for the Kohanim, whose Divine service places upon them a particular responsibility to maintain higher standards of righteous behavior and purity.

Leviticus 21:1 And יהוה said to Moses, speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron וְאמַרְת and you say to them, No priest will be defiled for the dead among his people:

Question: What was Moses saying to the Kohen in addition to this command? The Torah cautions adults to regulate their own behavior, because the example they set will have an effect on the children who see them. (Chumash)

Question: How are the Kohanim different from others? They must be righteous before יהוה . This implies abstinence and is particularly relevant to Kohanim who are forbidden from contaminating themselves from the dead and from marrying certain women. They are servants of יהוה, and for them to neglect or derogate their role is a desecration of יהוה‘s Name. The Torah indicates that a Kohen who falls short of righteousness is guilty of desecrating יהוה‘s Name. Because a Kohen is the servant of יהוה, he must be scrupulous in his behavior; when he sins, it is regarded by onlookers as a desecration of the One against Whom he transgresses. A similar responsibility applies to all יהוה‘s Chosen People — and especially those who are privileged to be Torah scholars — must hold themselves to higher standards of behavior and ethics. (Chumash)

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Discuss: What standards are you held to as believers in comparison to the rest of the world?

Question: Must a person excel? Is there anything wrong with being mediocre?  To really excel in a deeper sense means to use our full potential and become the best person that we can be. This is life’s most worthwhile goal and within the reach of everyone. Failing to strive for excellence in this area would be a loss of a tremendous opportunity to fulfill our lives’ spiritual task.

Spiritual Exercise:  What is so important to you that you would be willing to work hard for it and even give up things you like to do to achieve it? Start this week on fulfilling your goal.