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From which sources in Parashat Emor may the following Torah values be learnt?
[The more difficult items have clues attached]
1. Respect and precedence must be given to a Priest.
2. Even if appearances do not tell the truth, they can still be of vital importance.
3. A person who sins by accident and does not take trouble to atone for his sin is regarded as having sinned on purpose - derived from this Parasha by the Ohr Hachayim.
4. Although the thought is important when serving G-d, the correct manner is vital as well.
5. A person should not behave in such a manner that would morally desensitize himself to callousness and cruelty.
6. A person must be very careful not to behave in such a manner that would bring the Torah into disrepute.
7. Even hard labor is worthy of being sanctified - derived from this Parasha by the Meshech Chochma.
8. Yom Kippur only effects atonement for those who sincerely repent - derived from this Parasha in Rashi's commentary.
9. The 'mitzva' of rejoicing on the Festivals is at its strongest on Sukkot.
10. A person who killed an animal must pay its market value.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT AND COMMENTARIES ON PARASHAT EMOR
1. This is derived from the words 'You shall make him holy… he (the Kohen) shall be holy to you' (21:8). This is understood to mean that he should be given precedence in religious matters - for example in being first to be called up to the Torah reading. See Rashi ad loc.
2. The importance of appearances is reflected in the Torah's prohibiting a Kohen with a physical defect from performing the Temple service (21:16-24).
3. The Torah requires a non-Kohen who ate Teruma by accident to replace what he took, and to add one fifth to it (22:14). If a person finds out that he made such a mistake and does not make those amends stated by the Torah, he 'bears the sin' (22:16) which in Hebrew is termed 'avon' (22:16) - sin done on purpose. Thus the inadvertent sinner who had not used the possibility of gaining atonement for himself shows himself to be indifferent to sin. Because of that attitude, his accidental sin becomes an 'avon' - as though it was an intentional one. See Ohr Hachayim ad loc.
4. That serving G-d must not only be done with the correct thoughts, but with the right actions, may be derived from the prohibition of offering an animal with any blemish whatsoever - whether naturally or man-induced. See 22:17-25.
5. The prohibition of slaughtering an animal and its child on the same day (22:28) indicates that a person should not behave in a way that would morally desensitize himself to callousness and cruelty. See the Chinuch on that Mitzva.
6. The words: "You shall not profane my Holy Name" (22:32) indicate that a person must be very careful not to behave in such a manner that would bring the Torah into disrepute. A person is required to sanctify G-d's name through his behavior by performing the commandments and by treating others kindly, considerately, and honestly, so that people will say of him: "Happy are the parents and teachers who taught him Torah, and raised such a person." See Talmud Yoma 86a.
7. The mundane and exhausting work of harvesting the grain crops of wheat and barley is sanctified by being focused on the Temple services of offering the 'omer' - the communal barley harvest offering on Pesach, and the communal wheat harvest - the two loaves of bread - on Shavuot. See 23:10,17.
8. A key word introducing the section about Yom Kippur is the Hebrew 'ach' - 'but' (23:27). That suggests a limitation to the scope of Yom Kippur: Rashi brings the tradition that the limitation is that Yom Kippur effects atonement only for those who sincerely repent.
9. This is derived by the fact that the word 'simcha' - rejoicing - is only mentioned once in this section of the Torah - and that is in respect to Sukkot 'You shall rejoice before… G-d for seven days' (23:40). (Commentaries state that Sukkot is special as it is the culmination of the Tishri process of repentance of atonement, when the Israelites endeavor to drag themselves out of the morass of sin.)
10. This in the Halachic interpretation of the text: 'A person who kills (literally, hits the soul) of an animal, shall pay - "a soul for a soul"' (24:18) - understood by the Rabbis to mean 'the value of the animal in exchange of the animal'. See also Bava Kama 83b and 84a.
ADDITIONAL QUESTION ON PARASHAT EMOR
The text states: 'When you reap the harvest of your land, do not gather in all that grows in the corner of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger - I am the L-rd your G-d' (23:22). This commandment is remarkable in that it is placed in an entirely different context - within the section concerning the Festival - and specifically within that part which refers to the Festival of Shavuot (Pentecost). What is the connection between the mandatory gifts from the landowner to the poor, and Shavuot?
For my attempt to look at this issue, see Shema Yisrael on Parashat Emor for 5762
Other Parashiot from previous years may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/solomon/index.htm
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: email@example.com for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
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