(Leviticus: 21:1-24:23)

(Haftara:  Yechezkel 44:15-31)

(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 4)

(Sfirat Haomer)

  1. [21:1-2] “…he should not make himself impure for the dead…except for a relative who is close to him…”   The Kohen can go to the funeral of a close relative.  Since the Kohen does not go to a married sister’s funeral, it seems that the factor here is emotional closeness. We know, however, that a good friend can be emotionally closer to us than a close relative.  Were family relationships different in earlier times? Is this law for the sake of the Kohen or for the sake of the honour of the dead relative?
  2. [24:22] “…there will be one law for the stranger and for the home-born…” When someone converts to Judaism, he or she needs other Jews to supervise their entry into the Jewish people. Why isn’t it enough to simply declare one’s loyalty to God and the Torah?

  3. [Haftara: Yechezkel 44:23] “And they will teach my people the difference between the holy and the common…” Why do we make such a distinction between the holy and the common?  Why don’t the Kohanim teach that the common is a lower form of holiness and can be raised to a state of holiness?

  4. [Pirkay Avot 4:1] “…who is honoured? He who honours others…” Is this statement true?  He who honours others could be seen as subservient to the others.

  5. [Pirkay Avot 4:3] “…there is no thing that doesn’t have its place”. Is this statement true.  Is there a place in the world for theft or for insult or for arrogance?

Commentary

Not knowing where to go, I go to you. Not knowing where to turn, I turn to you. Not knowing how to speak, I speak to you. Not knowing what to hold, I bind myself to you.  Having lost my way, I make my way to you. Having soiled my heart, I lift my heart to you…Blessed are you whose presence illuminates outrageous evil…Blessed are you, who waits in the world. Blessed are you whose name is in the world.

–Leonard Cohen, Book of Mercy, Canada, USA.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer