Shabbat Shalom Dear Readers, Parshat Emor 5775

May 8, 2015

Menorah_Rambam

besyata

The following is an edited version of a post that appeared on this site in 2014.

Candle lighting this week is at 7:41 PM in Brooklyn, New York. Candle lighting time is 18 minutes before sunset, which marks the start of Shabbat. To find the local candle lighting time in your location you can visit Chabad.org, which has a section of their site for this purpose. Another good web site is Aish.com.

It should be noted that the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah, is in little over two weeks. Both Aish.com and Chabad.org have articles that shed light on this festival, its background and its practices.

A recurring theme in Jewish history is the tension that occurs when the law of the land is a fundamental odds with human decency, either by written statute, such as the Jim Crow laws, or bad faith in upholding the laws, such as juries in the Jim Crow South that refused to punish murderers of blacks. Conversely, some have noted that civil rights laws are almost never used to prosecute hate crimes committed by non-whites.

Sometimes it is necessary to make the grave decision to violate the laws of the land when such laws are indeed unjust. In light of the recent events in Baltimore, Maryland, these questions have taken on increasing relevance. Aish.com has an article that addresses these questions.

Chabad.org has an article that addresses the question of why many Jews insist on still speaking Yiddish. On the one hand, there is a long-standing tradition of reserving biblical Hebrew for sacred matters and using a more mundane language for secular matters. On the other hand, Yiddish, which has become a language of religious study, has achieved a sort of sanctity that compromises its status as a “secular language.”

This week’s parsha has, among other things a list of the holidays in the order in which they occur, aside from Purim and Chanukah, which are related to events which occurred well after the time frame of the Five Books of Moses.
The parsha also deals with laws pertaining to the ritual purity of the priests, and mentions some death penalty offenses.
It should be noted that although the death penalty exists for such things as blasphemy, it was almost impossible to meet the conditions under which such a penalty could be applied,. Factors that range from the warnings needed before an offense is actually committed, to the precision with which witnesses must corroborate an account of an offense make most death penalties a largely theoretical possibility. When a death penalty is mentioned for offenses such as blasphemy and sabbath violations, it really describes the damage to the soul created by such offenses, despite mention of the largely theoretical possibility of execution.
The parsha also mentions the menorah in the Temple, which has seven branches, rather than the eight branched menorahs that we use during Hanukkah. In Jewish teachings, it is pointed out that just as the menorah has seven lights, so too does the face have two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and a mouth. This menorah is likewise supposed to be illuminated with a divine light and maintained by its owner. It is clear that we can still derive insights and spiritual growth from the commandments even if the Temple in which many of these commandments is temporarily not standing.
May we soon see the rebuilding of our Bet HaMikdash, and the resumption of all the commandments associated with its existence.

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