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

Haftorah Reading Ezekiel 44:15-31

Tonight, we study the Torah portion Emor. This portion covers a listing of all the holidays of the calendar as well as the Sabbath. My question to you this week was about the inclusion of the Sabbath in our reading. However, I want to mainly  speak about another issue that is covered in our portion as well. In fact, it is the first main topic that Moshe speaks of in these verses.

In the opening verse G-d spoke to Moshe and directed him to speak to the priests of Israel concerning their duties to G-d and to the people.  He began with the prohibition for the priest concerning dead bodies and carries on through other things that might cause a priest to become unclean. G-d warned the priests of the consequences of performing their duties as priests, in a state of uncleanness. In Leviticus/Vayikra 22:15-16 we read where the priest had the responsibility for making sure that offerings to be eaten by them and the person presenting the offering, would not be eaten by anyone else who was unclean at the time. This means the priest had a serious responsibility that he was not to take lightly. He was to never perform his duties in an unclean state  These offerings became holy when offered to HaShem. If the priest presented these offerings to G-d in an unclean state there was a punishment brought on him. They had to always remember the fact that offerings brought by a person, was entrusted to him by G-d, and must not come into contact with anything or anyone that was unclean. If the priest profaned the offering, that was required by G-d, by their uncleanness, they were subject to die. This was seen as a disregard for G-d and His holiness. They had sinned against G-d.

Now, to a couple of Messianic scripture verses that will shed light on our Torah passages. In I Peter 2:9 it says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood.” This is echoing the words of G-d to Israel in Shemot 19:5-6. In Romans 2:23-24 Shaul told the people, they were boasting in the Torah, and at the same time they were breaking its commandments and blaspheming the name of G-d among the gentiles.  Romans 6:23 we read the words of Shaul to the believers in Rome. He said, “The wages of sin is death.” 

Earlier we read where the sons of Aaron died because of their actions. Their status as priest carried a responsibility which they disregarded and paid for it by their death. We can also read of similar things in Jeremiah 7:3-4 where the people put their trust in being in the city of Jerusalem where the temple stood. In Jeremiah 7:5-7 we read the word of G-d warning them Jerusalem would not save them, only a changed heart and a mending of their ways.

In Matthew 3:8-9 we read John the Baptist saying the same thing to the people of his day. They thought that being sons of Abraham was enough. John told them it takes more than that. The Torah uses the term of being “cut off” as a punishment for sin and disobedience. Yeshua had the same conversation over and over in His ministry. In John 8:33-39 we read His conversation with some of the Pharisees who boasted in being sons of Abraham. He ended by saying, “If you were the sons of Abraham you would do the works of Abraham.”

My point in this long lesson is to emphasize our responsibilities in how we live and what we do. As we read in I Peter, we are all priests and with that priesthood comes responsibility.

I fear we often become lax in how we live. We become lazy or are influenced by what we see and hear around us. When we make that decision to put our trust and faith in the Messiah Yeshua, that puts us in a different place. Now we have a responsibility as the priests in our Torah portion, to be aware of who we are, to avoid handling the things of G-d with unclean, impure hearts. For by doing so we give unbelievers reason to disparage G-d and cast doubt on Him. May we never be guilty of such actions.

Repentance is always there for us; however, repentance should not be taken lightly. It does not give us a get out of jail free card. We are expected to change our actions.