Shabbat Shalom Dear Readers, Parshat Emor 5776

May 20, 2016

Menorah_Rambam

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Candle lighting this week is at 7:53 PM in New York City. Candles lighting time is 18 minutes before sunset, which marks the start of Shabbat. To find the local candle lighting time in your location, Chabad.org has a section of their site for this purpose. Another good web site is Aish.com. One of the numerous excellent articles on Aish.com is an article about a question and answer period at Harvard Law School at whic  the Israeli ambassador was asked how is it that you are so smelly?”

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 Hannukah. 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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