Parshah Emor אמר (Levíticus 21:1-24:23)
The Parasha Emor (“Tell them”) begins with the special laws of the Kohanim (“priests”), the Cohen Gadol (“High Priest”), and service in the temple. The second part of Emor gives a list of the annual festivals of the Jewish calendar. It finally concludes with the incident of a man executed for blasphemy, and provides penalties for murder and for injuring your neighbor or destroying their property (monetary compensation).
The Cohen is the representative of God, and is also the person most directly involved in His exalted service. Because of his privileged position, the Cohen was to be a model of especially high purity and perfection…
So the Cohen, among others, has severely restricted contact with corpses. We could find an explanation for this in the fact that death is the clearest sign of the inherent imperfections of man. As the verse in Psalms 82:6-7 says: “I said, ´You are angelic creatures, and all of you are angels of the Most High.´ Indeed, as man, you will die…”
During the year, a certain number of days were proclaimed as sacred assemblies, where all the people gathered to worship in the Mishkan. These holy days, in which work was prohibited, were set forth in the following order: a) The Sabbath; b) The first and last day of Passover, the feast of unleavened bread; c) Shavuot, it was to be observed on 6 Sivan; d) Rosh Hashanah; f) Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.
After the Jewish people were freed from slavery in Egypt to serve God, the first step in that service was seeking perfection. That search took the form of counting seven full weeks, 49 full days, up to the giving of the Torah on the fiftieth day. Fifty represents perfection (50 gates of wisdom, 50 doors of purity).
This is the meaning of Lag B’Omer as explained in the Maharsha (Moed Katan 28a): Lag B’Omer is a day of joy for the successful pursuit of perfection.
Traditional bonfires symbolize the pure and intense fire of the heart which is the basis of our quest for perfection.
According to the Midrash, it is the intensity of our search for perfection in the realization of the Divine Will, which infuses our Omer count with an added meaning and effectiveness.
May we seek perfection in everything we do, so that our efforts can be crowned with success by God, who takes us to the highest perfection, “giving his nation strength and blessing them with peace.”
Shabbat Shalom ~~~~~~~~ Mati
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Read Torah from Around the World #271 By Rabbi Dr. Walter Rothschild, Landesrabbiner of Schleswig-Holstein; Or Chadash Liberal Jewish Community, Vienna, Austria.
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