Torah Portion: Emor (Speak) (Leviticus) Vayikra 21-24
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 44:15-31
The week’s Torah portion covers several topics such as the commandments, a priest’s contact with a dead person. It also covers whom a priest can marry and what would disqualify a priest from coming into G-d’s presence to offer an offering. We read of many commandments covering the animals that could be offered. The animal could have no blemish. It had to be physically perfect.
In Leviticus chapter 23 we read of the mo’edim or appointed times that make up the religious year for the people of Israel. I want us to spend a bit of time on this list and discuss each one. However, first I would like us to look at Leviticus 23:22. It seems so out of place here in this chapter about holidays. In this verse we read again about helping the poor by leaving portions of the crops for the poor to take. It speaks of three areas that are to be left to the poor. The first is a Hebrew word that means sheaves that had fallen over on the ground. The next word means to leave any overlooked stalks of grain and the last is to leave a part of the field, like the borders or corners.
What is common to all of these is the word “taazov” which can mean forsake, leave or abandon, meaning that the farmer must not involve himself in the allocation of these leftovers. He removes himself completely from the picture and leaves it for the poor to take themselves. It is as if the scripture is saying that these parts of the field actually do not belong to the farmer. They are really not the farmer’s property – they belong to the poor.
This verse teaches us a deep spiritual truth for our own life today. One of the battles that we all face is how we view our possessions. Our society, in fact our very flesh tells us to accumulate all we can. We have worked hard and whatever we have is from our own efforts. This verse tells us that G-d is our provider. Whatever we have really belongs to Him and it is on loan so to speak. Because of this G-d expects us to use what He has put in our care for whatever purpose He has. This does not mean we are to sit around and do nothing, but it does mean to align our thoughts and our flesh to be in sync with the Father’s view. We must change our view to be able to understand that He is the source of all we have and we must use it properly to do His will on this earth.
Our giving or help toward people should never be done to bring honor to ourselves. We are taught here to humbly acknowledge the graciousness of the Almighty for allowing us to be able to be used by Him and to do and give what we can to further His plan and to bring Him honor. Our goal everyday should be one of appreciation and thoughtfulness for all that He gives us.
As I said at the beginning, chapter 23 covers G-d’s calendar for the year. This is covered in 5 places in Torah with one being here in our portion. This description here in our reading is a deeply personal one for the people. It expresses G-d’s plan and desire to meet with them throughout the year, not just on the mountaintop but in everything of life. Mo’ed is the word used so often here and means a prearranged meeting between G-d and His people between the bride and bridegroom. Another word used often in this chapter is “Mikra Kodesh.” These two words give the feeling of someone who has been called in love. So these times, these meetings are times when we have been called by the Lover of our Soul, One Who holds us close.
So let us take a look at the list here and see what we can learn from each appointed time. Below are brief explanations of each holiday. I encourage you to spend time studying each of these to see what G-d shows you.
Passover or Pesach Lev. 23:5 to be on the 14th of Aviv
Sacrifice of lamb and the blood that covered the people so the death angel passed them by. A picture of our redemption through the Messiah.
Feast of Unleaven Bread Lev. 23:6
Unleaven bread signifies no sin in our lives. Yeshua is our Bread of Life calling us to a holy walk.
Feast of First Fruits Lev. 23:10-11
This is the time of the first crop of the new harvest. Some believe Yeshua was raised from the dead at First Fruits.
Shavuot Le. 23:15
This is the summer harvest and the giving of the Torah. It is recorded in Acts that this is also the time of the first influx of believers.
Feast of Trumpets Lev. 23:24
This holiday starts the 10 days of soul searching until Yom Kippur, a time to examine our life to ask for forgiveness for those things that have gone unforgiven.
Yom Kippur Lev. 23:27
This holiday reminds us G-d stands ready and anxious to forgive us when we confess our sins to him.
Succot Lev. 23:34
This is the time to renew our dependence and faith in G-d to take care of us, to provide for us until we enter our spiritual reward.