Parashat Emor 5783

May 2, 2023

Rabbi Katy Allen ('05)

Lo tehal’lelu You shall not profane pollute desecrate. Do not. You and I and each of us, holy leaders great and small, let us think twice about what we do, let us remember and pay attention, that we do not profane pollute desecrate… …ourselves or others (Lev.21:9) — precious are you are they am I, beloved by one or more, sacred; …our children, (Lev. 21:15) mine yours theirs ours, the future they are; we will not be here one day but they will, they will only if we remember and if we restrain and if we transform our baser instincts; …the Name; (Lev. 21:6) you are not the center of the Universe nor am I nor he nor she nor they nor them — much is beyond us greater more important, critical on every level to functionality to wellbeing; …the sanctuary of the Oneness (Lev. 21:12) the Breathe the All-Encompassing...

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Parashat Emor 5782

May 13, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Emor By Rabbi Cantor Sam Levine (’19) You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy (Lev. 19:2) This is the thesis statement of what Bible scholars call “the Holiness Code” (Lev. 17-26). It is also, arguably, the thesis statement of the Book of Leviticus, and, one might further argue, of the entire Torah. Of course the statement begs the question, what does it mean to be holy? We may find a clue in a pair of verses from this week’s sedra. An ox or a sheep or a goat, when it is born, shall remain seven days under its mother, and from the eighth day and forward it will be accepted as a near-offering, as a fire-offering to YHWH. And an ox or a sheep—it and its young you are not to slaughter on...

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Parashat Emor 5781

April 30, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Emor By Rabbi Doug Alpert (’12)I cannot recall a time when we have been more preoccupied with time than during this COVID 19 pandemic.  How much longer until we… can get our vaccines? Travel safely again? See family beyond our bubble? No longer need to mask up? Be back in person together in Shul? We grope to find some certainty amidst a time of great uncertainty. Yet, our preoccupation with time is not a new phenomenon. We as Jews have always been keenly aware of time. Rabbi Jill Hammer describes the Issacharites as “knowers of the wisdom of time” and that they had knew about “the shifting of light across time.” (The Jewish Book of Days at p. 265). This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Emor, delves into the importance of time. “Speak to B’nai Yisrael and say to them; the appointed times of HaShem which...

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Parashat Emor 5780

May 8, 2020

A D’var Torah for Parashat Emor By Rabbi Bruce Alpert (AJR ’11) A well-known midrash tells of Rabbi Yehoshua bemoaning the destruction of the Temple – “the place that atoned for Israel’s sins” – to his master, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai. Rabbi Yohanan comforts his disciple with the observation that “we have another means of gaining atonement: through deeds of loving kindness, as it is written (Hosea 6:6) ‘I desire deeds of loving kindness, not sacrifice.’” (Avot d’Rabbi Natan 4:5) Comforting as this midrash might be, it reduces the Temple to a single function: atoning for sin. Yet were this really its primary purpose, why are prayers for the Temple’s restoration so ubiquitous in our liturgy? As one who has ever uttered those prayers with discomfort, I think we need to look more deeply for the answer. For many of us, our discomfort with the idea of the restoration of the Temple goes...

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Parashat Emor – 5779

May 16, 2019

Kedushah: From Hierarchy to Complementarity A D’var Torah for Parashat Emor By Rabbi Len Levin “ shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God; for they offer the Lord’s offerings by fire…and so must be holy” (Leviticus 21:6). “These are My fixed times, the fixed times of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions” (Leviticus 23:2). “The world stands on three things: on Torah, on the service, and on deeds of lovingkindness” (Avot 1:2). “A bastard who is a scholar takes precedence over a High Priest who is an ignoramus” (Mishnah Horayot 3:8). “Holiness determines and actualizes the spirit as moral spirit. And in the same way the spirit determines and actualizes holiness as the action of moral reason” (Hermann Cohen, Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism, end of Chapter 7). Can sanctity be reconciled with equality? Kedushah—holiness or...

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