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Emor (Speak) Vayikra (Leviticus) 21-24

Torah Portion:  Emor (Speak)  Leviticus 21:1-24:23

HafTorah: Ezekiel 44:15-31

We have the opportunity to cover a lot of subjects tonight. I will try to keep it to just a few. Much of this portion has to do with holiness and the importance of being a holy people. I would like to begin by saying a few words about the name of this Torah Portion. The name is Emor, which is taken from the first verses of Leviticus chapter 21. In Hebrew the word emor comes from the root meaning to “say.” The word deber is more often used when describing a setting of talking to someone. However, this word, emor, is used when describing a more personal conversation where the feelings behind the words are easily conveyed. We see this word used in the creation verses in Genesis. Here it shows G-d speaking in a quieter more personal way as He calls out for creation to respond to Him. This shows us G-d’s intimate relationship to His creation. Here in our portion we see Him urging the priests that minister before Him to be gentle as they go about their tasks of representing Him before the people. What does this have to do with us? As priests (I Peter 2:9) it teaches us how to communicate with our family and the world. Here G-d is showing His heart as a Father or Abba. It is that same quality that we use while instructing our own children and grandchildren. A calm loving way will make an impression that will be heard and will last. A still small voice can accomplish more than a loud strong voice. It is how Yeshua related to people and how we are called to relate. Even our disagreements need not be shouted.

 

Another way we are to exhibit holiness is found in Leviticus 23:22. Here G-d instructs the people to leave part of their harvest for the poor. What strikes me about this verse is the word used for “leave.” In Hebrew the word is “ta’azov.” This actually means abandon. The leftovers are not to be handed out by the farmer but he is to abandon the leftovers, no longer having any claim to them. He doesn’t chose how the leftover harvest is to be used or who is worthy enough to get it. The owner basically renounces his ownership and affirms that all is from HaShem and therefore is His to do with as He wills.  When we give part of what G-d has given us we should acknowledge that everything is from Him and we re only the conduit for His mercy to be expressed to others.

In Leviticus 23 we read of the “mo’edim” or appointed times in G-d’s calendar. What is interesting is that G-d calls them His appointed times. We sometimes refer to them as Jewish holidays or festivals. As a grafted in part of Israel these holidays are still in effect for both church and Israel and one day will be recognized as G-d’s appointed times by the entire world. In the New Testament we see both Jews and Non-Jews observing these days.

Lastly, I want to talk about Kiddush HaShem (Sanctify the Name) and Chillal HaShem (Profane the Name).  We see this appear in Leviticus 22:32 where G-d warns about profaning His name and tells us to Hallow His name among the people. My question here is how do we or do we profane the name of G-d and how do we sanctify His name? I have thought about this most of the week and considered how my life and what I do each day do either of these. I will not go through a list of do’s and don’ts that is for each of us to come to in our time with the Father. However, I can say this has made me acutely aware of what I do everyday and how it reflects on the Father. Do my choices bring honor or dishonor to Him? Does the world see Him in me and does what they see cause them to see G-d in a positive or negative way? I also was reminded there are no holidays or time off in our walk of faith. His eyes are always on each of us, knowing our thoughts and seeing our actions.