Torah: Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23) Haftarah: (Ezekiel 44:15-31)
Thursday night, at 7pm at The Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church, 920 Tonaquint Drive, the St. George Interfaith Council will celebrate the National Day of Prayer. I was just given the honor of offering the Opening Prayer. The Interfaith choir will have a small concert.
Shabbat is Pesach Sheni, the Second Passover, which occurs every year on the 14 Iyar. This is exactly one month after Nisan, the day before Passover, which is the day prescribed for bringing the Korban (Paschal offering), i.e. Passover, lamb in anticipation of that holiday. Also, anyone that was unable to have a Seder can make one tonight.
This Shabbat the Torah continues with Emor from the Book of Leviticus. There are many verses that contain the laws regulating the lives of priests, donations and offerings that are acceptable for the sanctuary, qualifications for sacrificial animals, the major festivals, the lamps and the show-bread of the tabernacle, and more laws dealing with profanity, murder, and the maiming of others.
Our concepts and values from the Torah are unique.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your fields, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Eternal your G-d.” (Leviticus 23:22) This chapter contains all of the major festivals – the High Holidays and the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot). The middle of the description of the Pilgrimage festivals, is where we find the verse about leaving the corners of the field for the poor. This verse is repeated almost verbatim from Leviticus 19:9-10. * When the Torah repeats it is for each of us to really study the meaning and interpret it. Now the Talmud is where the rabbis look closely at the repetition.
It asks: Since the Torah is very careful with each word, and never repeats without a good reason, what lesson is there for us to learn? The reason for this value, says the Talmud, is to teach that taking care of the poor is in the eyes of G-d equal to building the Holy Temple and offering sacrifices (including those of the Festivals.) Bringing offerings to G-d at the temple on Shavuot, as an example, is really to purify one’s own heart, and make worthy of bringing gifts to G-d. The best gift to G-d is a gift to the poor. *Sometimes the mention of the widow and orphans are included. This verse was concerning caring for the poor, concluding: “I am the Eternal your G-d.”
While we are not farmers in Eretz Yisrael, how do we fulfill this mitzvah?
Since there is no Holy Temple in Jerusalem, Jews do not bring offerings for sacrifice, either? And, Why can’t the farmer reap all his crops in the field?
These are some of the questions that piqued the rabbis’ curiosity.
Each generation reads the Torah and rereads the Torah and each generation makes Judaism more meaningful by adapting and keeping the concepts and values intended by the Torah. * One never changes the words of the Torah. The Torah makes the words enlighten us, and guides us through these days.
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder