Commentary on Parashat Emor, Leviticus 21:1 - 24:23
God gives Moses the laws specific to Aaron and all the priests. Priests are to stay pure and holy. They are not to have contact with the dead, nor profane the Name of God, nor marry a harlot nor even marry a divorced person. When the daughter of a priest degrades herself through harlotry, it is her father whom she degrades, and she must be burned in fire.
The High Priest must abide by additional rules. He must not let his hair on his head grow wild. He must not tear his garments in mourning, nor have contact with the dead. He must not go out of the Sanctuary. He must marry a virgin from among his people. If he becomes blemished, he must not approach the altar to bring an offering to God.
And God says to Moses: Instruct Aaron that if his offspring has a defect, he is not to come near the Holy Shrine to bring a food offering to God. Indeed any man with a defect is not to come near the Holy Shrine to bring a food offering to God, whether the man is blind or lame or mutilated or too long-limbed or has a broken leg or broken arm or a scab. Aaron’s offspring who have a defect may eat from the food offerings, but they may not enter behind the holy curtain, nor approach the slaughter site, for this would profane God’s holy shrines.
God says to Moses: Say to all the people: Do not make a priestly offering during any state of uncleanness, nor make sacrifices with animals that are blemished. Do not eat of the holy offerings unless you are in a state of cleanliness. Do not profane My holy Name, but let Me be sanctified. I, God, make you holy.
These are My appointed times for meeting. Six days shall work be done and on the seventh day you must stop performing any work and proclaim it a Sabbath of rest. It is a Sabbath to God in all your dwelling places.
In the first month, on the fourteenth of the month, is a Passover to God. On the fifteenth of that month is the Festival of Unleavened Bread and for seven days you shall eat only unleavened bread. On the first day, you shall proclaim it holy and do no work. The seventh day shall also be holy and you shall do no work.
When you come to the promised land that I give you and you reap the harvest, you shall bring an omer, a portion of your first reaping to the priest, who will offer it to God. After seven complete Sabbaths from the time of these offerings, counting fifty days, you shall bring a new offering to God. You shall bring bread, leavened and unleavened, and make offerings with unblemished animals as an expression of compliance to God. You shall leave the gleaning of your harvest for the poor man and the stranger.
Yom Kippur & Sukkot
In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, there shall be a Day of Atonement. You shall starve your vital energies. You must not do any creating work, nor any activity on that day. Indeed if any person does not afflict himself on that day, he is to be cut-off from his kinspeople. This holy Sabbath, this Day of Atonement, is an everlasting statute for your descendants, in all your dwelling places.
On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Huts. Seven days shall be dedicated to God. On the first day and the eighth day, you must not do any work. You shall take for yourselves on the first day, the fruit of the tree of beauty, leaves of palm branches and myrtle branches and willows of the brook, and rejoice before God. You shall live in booths seven days in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.
In the Tent of Meeting outside the curtain of the Pact, Aaron shall set up a light to burn regularly, night and day, for all generations. Every Sabbath Day, Aaron shall have bread and incense and make an offering to the Lord.
If any person disrespects the Name of God and is a blasphemer, the person shall be taken outside the camp and the whole community shall stone that blasphemer. If a man murders any human being, he shall be put to death. One who strikes the life of an animal is to pay for it, life in place of life. If anyone does harm to a fellow, as he has done so shall it be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The injury he inflicted shall be inflected on him. You shall have one standard for stranger and citizen alike: for I the Lord am your God.
This article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!