Parashat Emor / פרשת אמור

Crop of Achan and His Family Stoned to Death by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

Summary

Parashat Emor is the 31st weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the eighth reading of Vayikra (Leviticus). Emor (אֱמֹר) is the Hebrew word for speak and is the fifth word of the parashah, in which HaShem instructs Moshe (Moses) to speak to the Kohanim (priests), the sons of Aharon (Aaron), regarding matters of holiness, so that they do not profane the Mikdash (Sanctuary) of HaShem and His Name.

A prohibition is given for the Kohanim on becoming tamei (ritually impure) for the dead among the people of Yisrael (Israel), with a few exceptions. Additionally, prohibitions are also provided for the Kohanim pertaining to the observance of certain customs of the nations. Additional prohibitions are also given for the Kohanim pertaining to whom they may take as a wife. Judgment is also provided at this time for what is to happen to the daughter of a Kohen who profanes herself by whoring. The parashah continues from there with yet more stringent prohibitions for the Kohen Gadol (High Priest), with respect to mourning for the dead, departing from the Mikdash of HaShem, and whom he may take as his wife.

After this, Parashat Emor records prohibitions for the Kohanim pertaining to the offering of the food offerings of HaShem—and later also pertaining to eating meat in general; when it may not be eaten by a Kohen—as well as prohibitions related to going through the veil in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) into the Holy of Holies, approaching the altar to serve, and eating the offerings made by the people of Yisrael to HaShem. Further prohibitions are also provided pertaining to the eating of HaShem’s offerings by anyone other than the Kohanim, with few exceptions. Vayikra 22 ends with instructions pertaining to food offerings presented to HaShem; what constitutes an acceptable food offering and what does not.

The parashah continues with instructions pertaining to the Moedim (Appointments) of HaShem. These include the weekly Shabbat (Sabbath), Pesakh (Passover) and Chag HaMatzot (the Feast of Unleavened Bread), the waving of the sheaf of the firstfruits, the counting of the Omer leading up to Shavuot (Pentecost) / Yom HaBikkurim (the Day of Firstfruits; cf. Bamidbar / Numbers 28:26), Yom Teruah (typically rendered the Feast of Trumpets; traditionally called Rosh HaShanah), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and Chag HaSukkot (the Feast of Booths).

Parashat Emor ends with instructions pertaining to the Menorah in the Mishkan of HaShem, and the twelve loaves of the Table of Showbread, as well as a record of the justice inflicted upon a blasphemer, and principles of divine justice.

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Torah Portion: Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23

1st Aliyah: Leviticus 21:1-15 (15 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Leviticus 21:16-22:16 (25 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Leviticus 22:17-33 (17 verses)
4th Aliyah: Leviticus 23:1-22 (22 verses)
5th Aliyah: Leviticus 23:23-32 (10 verses)
6th Aliyah: Leviticus 23:33-44 (12 verses)
7th Aliyah: Leviticus 24:1-23 (23 verses)
Maftir: Leviticus 24:21-23 (3 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):
Ezekiel 44:15 – 44:31


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Artwork: Crop of “The Stoning of Saint Stephen” by Bartholomeus Breenbergh

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