Parshat Emor

(Leviticus: 21:1-24:23) / (Haftara: Yechezkel 44:15-31)
(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 2) / (Sfirat Haomer)

1. [21:5] “They may not make themselves bald…” Excessive mourning is forbidden to us. There are some present-day Muslims who say that the Jews value life, so the Jews value the physical. Muslims value death and after-life, so they value the spiritual. And to value the spiritual is a holier attitude. What would we answer to those people who value death?

2. [21:9] “The daughter of a Kohen, if she becomes a prostitute…” The daughter of a Kohen who becomes a prostitute gets a very severe punishment. The Torah says that she has profaned her father, the Kohen. However, we say (Devarim 24:16) that everyone is judged in relation to his or her own life—not in relation to their children or parents. If so, why is the father seen in terms of the sins of his daughter, and therefore the daughter is punished with such severity?

3. [24:22] “…there will be one law for the convert and for the home-born…” While we encourage everyone in the world to be moral and believe in God, we are quite strict about accepting people who want to convert to Judaism. Shouldn’t we be happy that someone wants to be part of the Torah and the Jewish people. Why are we so strict with potential converts?

4. [Pirkay Avot 2:13] “…do not be evil in your own eyes.” R. Shimon is telling us that one should have a positive self-image. There are those who say that a positive attitude to life and a positive self-image are the basis of mental health. Couldn’t it be argued that too much of a positive attitude blinds a person to the injustices of the world, and makes one a less effective servant of God in the world?

5. [Pirkay Avot 2:13] “…do not be evil in your own eyes.” We are also told to see the positive qualities in others (Pirkay Avot 1:6). If one has a positive self-image is it certain that one will also see the good in others?


Since you don’t feel any inspiration or elevation in relation to the other young men, it is impossible for you to rise and grow and become holy. Do you recognize the essence of the other young men? …Each one of you has the obligation to reveal from within himself the soul of Israel and to make himself trustworthy so that the house of Israel can rely on him. Not one of you can release himself from this obligation.

R. Kalonymos Kalmish Shapira, the Piasetzner Rebbe, 1889-1943, Poland.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker
And this study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

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