This Week’s Torah Portion | May 07 – May 13, 2017 – 11 Lyar – 17 Lyar, 5777


Emor (Say) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

TORAH : LEVITICUS 21:1-24:23

PROPHETS : EZEKIEL 44:15-31

GOSPEL : LUKE 11:1-12:59

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets. 

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.

The Parashah for this week May 7—May 13, 2017 is called Emor—“Say!”

TORAH: Leviticus 21:1—24:23
HAFTARAH: Ezekiel 44:15-31

Torah Portion

This week’s portion focuses first upon the importance of priests being set apart, clean in their service to the LORD and in the picture they present before the people. In their work on behalf of life and wholeness, they are not to defile themselves with that which is dead or deformed or impure. As those representing man made in the image of God, the priests are themselves not to bear any outward marks, natural or inflicted, of that image having been marred. In every way these priests (though themselves sinners), were called to represent outwardly the perfection of Yeshua, the Great Priest who was to come,

“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens…Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man” (Hebrews 7:26, 8:1-2).

  • Leviticus 21:4 (ESV). “He shall not make himself unclean as a husband among his people and so profane himself.”   

This is a difficult sentence to translate in the Hebrew. However, coupled with verses 7, 13-14, it seems to extend the picture of wholeness represented by the High Priest to include the “oneness” realized in his marital union as well.

  • Leviticus 21:5. “They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh.”   

These were all pagan rites of mourning—but again, the Priest, as representative of humankind, was not to mar his body made in the image of God.

  • Leviticus 21:8. “Therefore you shall consecrate him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I the LORD (YHVH), who sanctify you, am holy.”   

The English words “consecrate” and “sanctify” both bear within them the Hebrew root for “holy.” The people are to set apart the priest as holy, and he must reflect holiness before them—but this is the testimony of his outward appearance and behavior. Ultimate sanctification (being made holy) requires a gracious, deeper work of the LORD Himself. At least six times in these two chapters the LORD reminds the priests that “It is I who sanctify”—both the people (21:8,15; 22:9,16,32), and the holy places they have constructed in which to honor Him (21:23).

*Leviticus 21:21. “No man of the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, shall come near to offer the offerings made by fire to the LORD. He has a defect; he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both the most holy and the holy; only he shall not go near the veil or approach the altar, because he has a defect, lest he profane My sanctuaries (i.e. holy places); for I the LORD sanctify them.”

Those of the House of Aaron who were outwardly defective could partake of the offerings brought by the people to God—but they could not “draw near” to present them to God. Drawing near requires that which is perfect, which the priests reflected, and the Holy Priest Yeshua would fulfill. This “drawing near” was a special and wonderful privilege. However, it could be lost by failing to adhere to the LORD’s directions, as may be seen in Ezekiel 44:10-14 (immediately preceding this week’s Haftarah), where the priests who had gone astray could still execute certain responsibilities before the LORD, but the privilege of drawing near to Him in the special way of their original call was forfeited.

Chapter 23 “Appointed Times of YHVH” 

This chapter presents in detail the Holy Convocations, the LORD’s “appointed times” (many English translations, feasts) to be observed by His people Israel (they are also enumerated in Deuteronomy 16). It should be noted, however, that these are not described as “Hebrew” appointed times or feasts, but as “The appointed times of YHVH” (23:2, 4, 37). They begin with the weekly Shabbat (Sabbath) (vs 3)—then in the Spring: Pesach—“Passover” (vs 5), the Week of Matzot—“Unleavened Bread” (vss 6-8), with the presenting of First Fruits (vss 10-14). Fifty days later comes Shavuot—“Feast of Weeks” / “Pentecost” (vss 16-21). In the Autumn come: Yom Teruah—“Day of Shofar Blasts” (vss 23-25), Yom Kippur—“Day of Atonement” (vss 26-32) and Succot—“Feast of Tabernacles” (vss 33-43). Since we will deal more-extensively with these festivals as they occur throughout the year, we will limit our comments here to the following:

*Leviticus 23:3. “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation, You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.”   

This is eluded to each Friday evening before meals when a prayer is said which includes, “and caused us to inherit his holy Sabbath in love and favour, as a memorial of the work of creation; for that day ranks first amongst the holy convocations…” The actual Festivals of the Lord, convocations which are to be proclaimed at their appointed times throughout the year, follow. But first it was necessary to reaffirm the weekly observance of Shabbat.

*Leviticus 23:24-25. “In the seventh month, on the first of the month, you shall have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing, a holy convocation.”   

The word for “blowing” is t’ruah—which may be a shout or a trumpet blast. From earliest times its occurrence here has been interpreted to refer to the sounding of the shofar—“ram’s horn.” It is interesting that the “redemption” which took the place of Isaac was a “ram caught by its horn in a thicket.” The shout of the shofar is a redemptive call to attention, to taking account before the days of awe leading to Yom Kippur. There is a rabbinic tradition, adhered to in most of Judaism today, which calls for postponing the blowing of the shofar on Yom T’ruah when the first of the seventh month falls on Shabbat (“Carrying a shofar to synagogue” is considered a violation of Shabbat!). But Scripture makes no such exception, it clearly states that these convocations are to be carried out “at their appointed times” (vs 4). In fact, verse 38 also implies that observance of these festivals is to take precedence over the regular weekly Sabbaths themselves.

*Leviticus 23:15-16. “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.”   

There has been a controversy in Judaism regarding when “Firstfruits” and the “Counting of the Omer” were to begin. The Pharisees understood “day after the Sabbath” to refer to the day following the “day of rest” begun on Seder night. So Firstfruits and the beginning of Counting of the Omer always begin on the 16th of the First Hebrew month. The Sadducees took the “Sabbath” in this passage to refer to the first “Saturday Sabbath” following Passover (therefore, Firstfruits and Counting the Omer would always begin on a Sunday). Another sect of Jews, the Ka’arites, have yet another way of determining when to count. The tradition of the Pharisees (which sees the seven Sabbaths as weeks rather than Saturdays, and counts 50 days beginning with the 16th of Aviv/Nisan) is what appears to have been in place during the time of Yeshua, and is the system followed by most Jews today.

*Leviticus 24:2-4. “Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually. Outside the veil of the Testimony, in the tabernacle of meeting, Aaron shall be in charge of it from evening until morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statue forever in your generations. He shall be in charge of the lamps of the pure gold menorah before the LORD continually.”   

The light of the Menorah was positioned to shine across onto the table bearing the 12 cakes of Bread of the Presence described in vs 5-9 (one cake for each of the Tribes of Israel). Another translation is “Bread of the Face.” Many times in Scripture Israel’s salvation is described as coming through the shining of God’s face upon His people. “For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light” (Psalm 36:9. See also Psalm 31:16; 44:3; 80:3, 7, 19). And through that Light, there is a lamp which He has himself kindled and maintains within our hearts, “You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light” (Psalm 18:28)!

*Leviticus 24:11, 15-16. “And the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the name and cursed; and so they brought him to Moses.” “Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. And whoever blasphemes the name of YHVH shall surely be put to death…When he blasphemes the name, he shall be put to death.”  

Here, twice the word shem (name) is used in place of the name of God (YHVH). As mentioned last week, today it is common among religious Jews when reading aloud or referring to YHVH (the LORD) to use this expression ha Shem –“the Name”, rather than attempt to pronounce the covenant name. A very common reply to the query, “Ma-shlomkha?” (How is your shalom?—How are You?) is simply, “Baruch HaShem!” (Blessed be The NAME.—Thank you, I am fine).

*Leviticus 24:19. “If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him—fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man (Hebrew: adam), so shall it be done to him.” 

Disfigurement of a fellow human being (Hebrew: “Son of Adam”) is an extremely serious crime, marring that which of all creation was crafted by God in His own image.

Haftarah

*Ezekiel 44:15. “But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me…They shall enter My sanctuary, and they shall come near My table to minister to Me, and they shall guard My charge.”   

We who have come to the Father through His Son Yeshua are part of a “Kingdom of Priests” (Revelation 1:6). “Drawing near” in ministry to Him is one of the most precious privileges we have, but we must guard His charge, and hold fast to what is good (I Thess. 5:21; Heb. 4:14; Rev. 2:25; 3:11). Not to treasure and guard this gift can lead to tragic consequences. As mentioned earlier, verses 10-14 tell of those who chose to abandon their charge, who “went far from Him…strayed away from Him.” These found place for repentance, and were given ways to minister to their Lord—but the intimacy of their first positioning was forfeited forever, “they shall not come near Me to minister” as they had in the past.

*Ezekiel 44:23. “And they (God’s priests) shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.”   

PLEASE PRAY: For the Body of Messiah in Israel, that the Lord raise up and sustain faithful leaders who will command authority by their example, integrity and adherence to the truth—including their regular “drawing near” to God to minister only to Him. Pray that they will be able to teach the people holiness, cleanness, and discernment in a day of growing confusion and deception regarding what is holy and what is clean before God.

The Parashah for next week May 14-20, 2017 is a “double reading”:

I. Emor—“Say!”: TORAH: Leviticus 25:1—26:2;

II. B’Chukotai—“In My Statutes”: TORAH: Leviticus 26:3—27:34

HAFTARAH: Jeremiah 16:19—17:14

In A Nutshell

The portion, Emor (Say), begins with rules concerning priests, forbidding them to marry a divorced woman, a widow, or a whore, and permitting them to marry only a virgin. They are also forbidden to approach the dead. Only kin are permitted to be defiled and approach the dead. The High Priest is forbidden to be defiled even by his own kin have died. They are forbidden to shave their heads and beards, and they are forbidden to cast any flaws in their bodies. A Cohen (priest) with a blemish in his body will not be considered a priest, and will not be able to serve in the Temple. The portion also introduces laws of purity and impurity for priests, such as the prohibition on eating offerings, and the rules for a barren or divorced daughter of a priest.

The portion also mentions many rules concerning the Sabbath, Passover, the seventh of Passover, Shavuot, the Omer Count, and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). The end of the portion speaks of a quarrel between two men, one of whom said the name of the Creator and cursed. He was punished by ejection from the camp and execution by stoning.

Commentary 

What is so special about this portion that elaborates so much about priests and festivals?

The correction is only a correction of the heart, which contains all 613 desires we need to correct from using our ego in order to receive into using it in order to bestow, in favor of others and love of others. The whole Torah deals with the correction of the heart. The first stage in the correction of the heart is when we get rid of the ego. The second stage is when we use all of our heart in favor of others.

The portion describes all the levels of correction. It is written, “And you will be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus, 19:6). This means that everyone must reach the highest degree (a Cohen [priest])——following the preparation described in the portions, Aharei Mot (After the Death) and Kedoshim (Holy). The Torah constantly promotes us until we enter the land of Israel and achieve Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator.

The portion starts with elaborating on the terms of the degree of priests. A person must correct the desires, as it specifies—prohibition on marrying a divorcee, a widow, or a whore. A priest must also avoid shaving his face and his head. He must also maintain these prohibitions until he is corrected and sees his desires in the image of man. It is as we learn regarding the perception of reality: the whole world is a reflection of our desires, an outward projection of our internality.

A priest must have natural desires that have been corrected into aiming to bestow. He must not impair his body, make any kind of paintings on it, or touch his hair. The hair is a special correction. The word Se’arot (hair) comes from the word Se’arah (storm). They are to be corrected and therefore must not be removed.

A priest is a state in which one can truly work with all the desires in order to bestow, with all the deficiencies, with the “stormy hair.” His females, namely his desires to receive, have been corrected and are no longer on the degrees of whore, divorcee, or a widow. Rather, they are virgins. A person comes to a degree where he corrects his desires back to their natural state.

The priest must approach the work of God through the work of sacrifices. He must bring his desires closer and closer to the aim to bestow, to love. Everyone must reach this degree. A person who has reached this degree is regarded as “serving in the Temple.” On the degree of priests, we place all 613 desires, called “our heart,” in the house of Kedusha (holiness) as a holy Kli (vessel) that is entirely in bestowal.

On festivals, we correct ourselves in stages that are seemingly external stages. The system changes and gives us a chance to correct our desires further in external conditions on the festivals mentioned in the Torah: Passover, Shavuot, and Yom Kippur. The Torah tells us about all the festivals except for Hanukah and Purim.

Hanukah means Hanu Koh (parked here). We achieve the correction of bestowing in order to bestow when we rise above our egos and reach the degree of Bina, of the phrase, “That which you hate, do not do to your friend.”[1] In this way we detach ourselves from the egoistic will to receive and rise above it.

Purim is when a person actually achieves the end of correction. On Yom Kippur (Kippur means Ke Purim [as Purim]) we discover the evil in us has and regret it. At the same time, we are happy because now we know what to correct. Yom Kippur is not only a day of weeping. Rather, it is a day of great joy because we are happy that a trail by which to reach Purim has opened up to us, and we correct all the desires into bestowal, to love. On Purim we kill the Haman in us, all the evil in us, and achieve the end of correction—complete equivalence with the Creator.

The portion, Emor, contains all the preparations, all the previous portions. It deals with ascending to the highest degree. The portion also deals with the Sabbath, a sabbatical year, the seventh day of Passover, the seventh day of the weak, and the seventh year. It is a degree we always acquire along the way because Zeir Anpin contains six workdays; it is the upper Partzuf from which we receive the lights.

All the lights, which correspond to Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod, enter our hearts (Malchut) during the six days. Then comes the seventh day, when we do nothing. These qualities conclude the work, so no further efforts are required of us, except to maintain the situation so the lights will treat it and sanctify it. This is why the seventh day is considered a “day of holiness,” since on it we raise all the desires to the aim to bestow.

There also concerns the seventh day of Passover, the seventh day of Shavuot, as it is written, “Seven whole weeks shall there be” (Leviticus, 23:15), which are forty-nine days from Passover to Shavuot, and the seventh year, Shmita (omission). Such is the cycle of seven.

The seventh of Passover, the Omer Count, Shavuot, it all seems like a process. What is Passover and what is the process between Passover and Shavuot?

Passover is our escape from the ego, from Egypt. Although we begin to detach from it, it continues to accompany us on future degrees in problems that befall us, such as the golden calf, the water of strife, and the spies. These are all results from Egypt.

The desert is a state where one detaches and cleanses from the ego up to the degree of Bina, the entrance to the land of Israel. That state is called “forty years in the desert” because it is the correction we receive upon the exit from the ego. It is not simple; the corrections are recognition of our nature, disclosing of our broken desires and the understanding how to correct them.

The first correction is when we emerge from the ego and rise above it. This is called the “exodus from Egypt” and the “tearing of the Red Sea.” We instantaneously shift from the will to receive in order to receive, namely Egypt, and move into the desert. This is why we still do not know what to do, what will happen to us, and how it will unfold. We cannot know how to work with our nature not for our own benefit. For this reason we go through a period of confusion until we come to the tearing of the Red Sea and being at the foot of Mount Sinai.

Here the correction is in the same will to receive from which we have detached, and over which we transcended. Toward Shavuot we begin to correct it in order to bestow, toward the reception of the Torah. Seven Sabbaths are seven times seven, which is forty-nine days for corrections. Our correction is done by the six Sephirot of the upper force, Zeir Anpin, who is called The Blessed One Be He. This is the upper system that corrects us, containing six qualities—Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod—which enter Malchut, our will to receive, and correct the will to receive. When these qualities correct the will to receive, we have actually corrected ourselves by counting. That is, when we seemingly count money, we pay by performing corrections each day.

During each day and night, we bless for the Sephira (singular of Sephirot) that is a result of the passing day, from night to day, as it is written, “And there was evening, and there was morning” (Genesis, 1:5). In the previous day we have corrected in the evening, too, in the revelation of the bad, as well as during the day, in the revelation of the good. We have drawn lights that corrected the desires to receive, and thus concluded the day. This is why we give thanks for having corrected the Sephira. We count the Sephirot, which is why it is called the “Omer Count.” This is how all our desires are corrected.

After thirty-three days there is a special day, LAG baOmer. LAG means thirty-three, in the Sephirot Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut. Multiply the seven Sephirot by seven and you have forty-nine. We begin to search for the middle. If have received all the lights before we have reached the middle, we are guaranteed to finish successfully. It is similar to a person not being given everything, but if some of the forces have been given, if some of the forces have been corrected, that person can help him or herself and begin to understand and advance independently toward the end—the correction of Shavuot. This is the state of a person on the 33rd day of the count.

We count Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, and Netzah, which are complete Sephirot, the lights that must reach us. In the Sephira Hod we count five Sephirot—Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, and Hod. In Hod of Hod, if we have received the lights from above up to the point of incision, we are guaranteed to continue successfully. Thirty-three symbolizes the reception of all the lights of correction; this is why we are happy and celebrate the festival of light by lighting fires.

Does the thirty-third Sephira, Hod of Hod, symbolize the conclusion of part of the process?

Yes. Henceforth there is no doubt that the person will accomplish the Shavuot. This is why the prohibition on marrying (that begins after Passover night) is lifted on that day. Marriage means connection with Malchut. Other prohibitions are lifted on that day, such as the prohibition on cutting one’s hair. These corrections manifest externally, too, but the majority of corrections are inside, corrections we perform on ourselves by the light that shines on us, and through the giving we obtain the love of others.

Why is it that once a person has already reached the degree of “priest,” one is still bound by many laws and prohibitions?

It is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus, 11:44). When in Kedusha (sanctity/holiness), we delight in these actions. They are not unwelcome, but rather desirable. Thus, if we try to take from a mother half her work with her baby she will not let us. She enjoys what she does for it. The baby has become a source of pleasure for her. Now this work seem hard to us, but when it becomes bestowal, and corresponding to it we receive the light that shines for us and fills us, we feel the eternity and perfection in nature, and rise above all the limitations of this world. Then there is only goodness for us.

Why is marriage such a serious matter for a priest; is marriage the connection?

The will to receive in him (Malchut), must be cleaned of any blemishes. Previously he was seemingly married to a whore, a widow, or a divorcee. That is, his desires were faulty. Now he has risen to a degree where his desire to receive is like a virgin, like the desire that the Creator created. The Creator gave us a desire to receive, but we discover it only in the final, fourth stage. Yod–Hey–Vav–Hey, this is how we go through all the desires until we come to the virgin, meaning as the Creator gave it. This way we can work with the entire desire.

Why is it forbidden to say the name of the Creator?

“Saying” is revealing. There is an inner revelation, which is to bestow in order to bestow, and there is an external revelation, which is to receive in order to bestow. There are limitations to it, but it does not refer to saying the words ADNI, HaVaYaH, and so forth. A person makes a Zivug de Hakaa on the upper light that must reach the Kelim. In revealing, one discloses it from the lips and out, to the external ones. “External ones” are desires that have not been corrected. It is forbidden to disclose the name of the Creator, the upper light, to the external desires, which are outside of Kedusha and have not been corrected, as this would seemingly “short-circuit” the light with a Kli that has not been corrected with a Masach and Ohr Hozer. This is why it is called the “revelation of the bad,” and not the “revelation of the good.”

From The Zohar: The Sons of Aaron

Aaron is the beginning of all the priests in the world because the Creator chose him out of everyone to make peace in the world, and because Aaron’s ways rose with him to it. It is so because all of Aaron’s days, he would try to increase peace in the world. And because so were his ways, the Creator lifted him to priesthood, so he would instill peace in the household of above, for by his work, he causes the Zivug of the Creator with His Divinity, and peace is made in all the worlds.

Zohar for All, Emor (Say), item 2

A priest’s role is to enhance peace in the world.

A research in genetics revealed that priesthood is hereditary. The researchers sampled Jews with surnames that indicate relation to priesthood (Kahana, Katz, Cohen, etc.) from all factions of the Jewish people, and discovered the same gene among all of them. How is being a Cohen related to the corporeal world if we should all be priests?

We cannot know what genetic changes will happen when we are all corrected. Perhaps we will rise above all that is physical. We must understand that there is the first HaVaYaH in the world of Ein Sof (infinity), then a replication of the HaVaYaH in the four Behinot (discernment) of Ohr Yashar (Direct Light) on each degree, called “ten Sephirot.” Every bottom degree consists of a more materialized substance than the top degree, but the combination, HaVaYaH, remains. This is why it is written, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi, 3:6).
The first HaVaYaH is the light that expands in four Behinot and reaches Malchut. That structure stays. According to this pattern, as the light descends from degree to degree, from the world of Ein Sof to our world, it gives us Partzufim (plural of Partzuf), worlds, and Sephirot, and everything we learn in the upper system. This is how it is in all the worlds. The Neshama (soul), called Adam HaRishon (the First Man), was also created by the same structure, following the same internal make-up. That pattern exists in everything.

We learn that Abraham wanted to correct all of Babylon, and in each of us is a root by which we can reach the high priest. Everyone must reach it, as it is written, “They shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jeremiah, 31:33), and “My house shall be called ‘a house of prayer’ for all the nations” (Isaiah, 56:7). There are desires and souls that are easier, and there are those that are harder, depending on the level of the flaw. The easier ones are the children of Israel. They have to be the first to correct, hence there are stronger sparks of light in them, which are clear and burning, and appear as Cohen, Levi, and Israel.

There are people who look at a person and know if he or she is a Cohen (descendant of a priest). It is harder to spot a Levite or Israel. Not surprisingly, we can find these things in biology and medicine because everything in our world comes from the world Ein Sof and is replicated in our physical world, in our genes. This is why it must also happen in this world. Perhaps we have not discovered all the phenomena, but it is clear that every phenomenon in the world is the same as the phenomena that exist above, except here they exist in matter, not in potential.

[1] Masechet Shabbat, 31a.