Torah Portion: Emor, Say,Vayikra Lev. 21:1-24:23

HafTorah: Ezekiel 44:15-31

This week we read first about the commandments to the priests, the high priests and their service in the Mishkan or Temple. We see again that they were held to a higher level of holiness than the average person. This should cause us again to think of ourselves as priests. As the New Testament says in I Peter 1:16, “Be holy for I am holy.” This brings me to my last question I sent out this week. In the verses 22:32 the Torah tells us to not profane the name of G-d, but He should be sanctified in our midst. In the L-rd’s prayer in Matt. 6:9 we read , “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name.” What does this phrase hallowed be Your Name mean to us and what do we have to do with it?

First let us start with the word profane. What does it mean to profane G-d? As the people and priests of G-d our actions reflect directly on Him and have an effect on His reputation. When we act un-G-dly we sully His reputation, because the world is watching. Maimonides states three primary ways in which we profane G-d’s name. First, Transgression under pressure, second, transgression due to indifference or apathy and third, creating the appearance and false impression of transgression. The New Testament refers to these ways of profaning G-d name. I Cor. 6:19 talks about our bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit. So we can profane G-d’s name by misusing our bodies. Last week we spent some time talking about modesty. I think this has a great bearing on the profaning of G-d’s name. As His people, grafted in, we are called to reflect Him in everything we say, do, and relate to. Everything should be done to bring honor to Him to sanctify His name. In the early history of the believing congregations we read much about the lengths the people went to to not profane the name of G-d. Jewish history is a long list of people who died rather than bring disgrace or dishonor on G-d’s name.

However, the second and third principles of Maimonides are what trip us up the easiest. Indifference or apathy was one. We sometimes bring shame on G-d’s name because it is easier to sin than not. We sometime think, “Well it doesn’t really matter does it. It really isn’t that important.” Or sometime we appear to the general public as sinning – the appearance of sin.

Now on the other side of this question, how do we sanctify the name of G-d? Maybe our faith makes us the object of persecution. We hold on in any case. We sanctify His Name by living every part of our lives according to His word. We conduct ourselves in a G-dly manner in what we say, what we do, how we conduct ourselves in our day to day lives. Matt. 5:16 sets our very well how Yeshua saw this principle of sanctifying G-d. Leviticus 22:31 tells us to do what G-d has said. In Jewish history and religious thought, these applied to G-d fearers among the Gentiles. Cornelius is a good New Testament example of such a person. So, each day for us is an opportunity to sanctify the name of G-d. To do that requires that we know what He wants and to live our lives completely at His disposal.

Now my first question found in chapter 23 of Leviticus – G-d’s calendar. What, if any, is the connection between Passover and Shavuot?   One very important lesson we learn is that Passover, the holiday known for its freedom from slavery, is not complete without the giving of G-d’s word on Shavuot. G-d’s word gives meaning to our freedom. It gives significance to the common place. It teaches us that everything we do, see, or think, comes from the Father and should make us conscious of the fact that He inhabits all. Our freedom is measured by His standard, not the world’s and not even our own. During our day, work, meals, worship or even recreation are meant to be avenues to Him who loves us so much. So our freedom given at Passover only becomes real when given direction by G-d’s word. So, as we count the omer each night we should remember that the two are inseparable and in our lives bring fullness and contentment in Him