Torah Commentary

How Can Social Isolation Lead to Illumination?

May 9, 2020Cantor David Berger
The following story from the Talmud helps us reflect on Parashat Emor: Elijah the prophet felt conflicted about his job that day. He just knew that it wouldn’t go well, so he tried everything to get away from it. “It’s been 12 years,” said God, “Genug! (enough!) We have to tell him he can come out.” Elijah disagreed. Bar Yochai made him nervous. So much power in such a temperamental vessel was just dangerous. Still, maybe God was right. Twelve years in a cave is a long time and maybe people really can change. Or maybe not.

The Educational Value of Repetition

May 5, 2018Rabbi David A. Lyon

Leviticus, a priestly book, has as its primary focus an emphasis on the cleanliness of the community and its adherence to ritual matters for the sake of God’s blessings. … In the portion called, Emor, a significant redundancy occurs in the Hebrew text. We read that God said to Moses: Emor el hakohanim b’nei Aharon, ve-amarta aleihem… “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and you shall say to them…” (Leviticus 21:1).

From Blasphemy to Blasphemous: An Instructive Transition

May 13, 2017Rabbi Lance J. Sussman

In Parashat Emor, the Torah reports that a man born of mixed Israelite-Egyptian descent “blasphemed the Name [of God],” was placed on trial, and was stoned to death. A law was then enacted that anyone, Jewish or gentile, who blasphemes the name of God shall be put to death. Over time, in communities throughout the world, laws against blasphemy were put in place to address curses leveled at God as well as perceived slights against some religions.