Emor / Speak
Leviticus 21:1-24:23
HafTorah Ezekiel 44:15-31
Brit Chadasha 1 Peter 2:4-10

      We were created to be spiritual beings, but also created to live and operate in the physical. Our souls are holy, created by God, but we live in the flesh. 
Ecclesiastics 12:7 ‘And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.’
Ezekiel 18:4 ‘Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.’
Genesis 2:7 ‘Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.’
  Do we seem to live between two worlds? Philippians 1:22-23 says it so well, ‘But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Messiah, which is far better.
          That is why there is secular time as well as holy time. One day in seven, we stop working and enter the presence of the God of creation. We set aside a specific day that He sanctified, blessed, and hallowed. It is His seven-day cycle for God and man.   On certain days of the year, the moedim, the High Holy Days, we celebrate the God of history, the present, and the future.
        Whereas the High holy days represent events of past, present, and future; and the holiness of these days relates specifically to the events of the past, present, and future; the holiness of Shabbat is determined by God alone because He alone created the universe. When we ignore Shabbat, do we then ignore creation and His glory?
     Emor begins with the instructions for the priest’s conduct and the holiness of the offerings, (chapters 21 and 22). Leviticus 23 is dedicated to the appointed times of Adonai. There are five other similar passages in the Torah. Two in Exodus 22 and 23 are very brief, referring to the three pilgrimage festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Leaving three other accounts, one occurs in this parsha, a second one in Numbers 28-29, dedicated to special sacrifices, and the third in Deuteronomy 16 about Israel. 
      Moses at the end of his life told the next generation where they had come from, where they were going, and what of society they were to construct. It was to be under One God - the opposite of Egypt - and that they were to worship “in the place that God will choose,” which turned out to be Jerusalem.
     Emor is unique because of the way it includes the Shabbat: ‘And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: The appointed times [moadei] of the Lord, which you are to proclaim [tikre’u] as sacred assemblies [mikra’ei kodesh]. These are my appointed festivals [mo’adai]. Six days shall you work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of sabbaths, a day of sacred assembly [mikra kodesh]. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.” Leviticus 23:1-3.
     The word kodesh/holy appears no less than twelve times in Leviticus 23.  This chapter also emphasizes the number and impression of seven.  There are not only seven holy days in the annual calendar but there are also seven paragraphs in the chapter. The word “seven” or “seventh” occurs repeatedly (eighteen times) as does the word for the seventh day Shabbat in one or other of its forms (fifteen times) and the word “harvest” appears seven times. 
    Every seven days we are allowed to step to a time of holiness. The word kadosh is Hebrew for holy.  It also represents set-apart.  Sabbath is a set-apart day and we are to be a set-apart people.  Living in the Diaspora this can be a challenge -or as hard as we want to make it.
    Rabbi Sha’ul in Galatians 5:17- exhorts us, ‘I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. ‘
    He continues with the antidote: ‘22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.’
     Living in the spirit, operating in the flesh – or living in the flesh and trying to operate in the spirit can be and often is a daunting task. But we serve a great God, who is merciful.
     Isaiah 41:10 ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’
     Psalm 37:24 ‘Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds His hand.’
     Proverbs 28:13 ‘Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.’
     James 3:2 ‘For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.’
     Romans 3:23 ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’
     Proverbs 24:16 ‘For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.’
     Ecclesiastics 7:20-22 ‘For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin. 21 Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22 For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.
    To accomplish the task of living in the spirit, we can begin by observing the Sabbath.  It is a set-apart day, created by God at creation. We can put away the strife, the division, the attitudes and dwell in the presence of the Most High.  We can put away our agendas, our angst, our self-absorption, and pride, and come humbly before God in His time. We can forgive one another, forgive ourselves, and move on, not seeking revenge or status or sympathy. For all these things keep us locked in the power of ego, rather than in the power of Adonai. 


Leviticus 21:1-24:23
Ezekiel 44;15-31
1 Peter 2:4-10

     Emor is a Torah portion about holiness.  Leviticus 21 is about holiness and the priests. Leviticus 22 is about holy things and His Holy Name.  Leviticus 23 are the instructions concerning holy times, and Leviticus 24 is about the holiness of the lamp, the bread, and closes with holiness of speech. 
      Leviticus 21 begins: ‘And the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘None shall defile himself for the dead among his people…’ The instructions go on to stress purity and cleanliness.  We apply this today to our spiritual cleanliness. Not touching the dead is a metaphor to us now to ‘not touch the unclean…the darkness.’  Dark forces come in many forms; despair, criticalness, depression, bitterroot, unforgiveness, fear and more. These gates when opened expose our soul to the realms of darkness and the uncleanness of death. 
     Remember, ‘ I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days…’Deuteronomy 30:19-20.
     Leviticus 21 continues: ‘They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh. They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God; therefore, they shall be holy.’ Leviticus 21:5-6. 
     At the end of Leviticus 22 God continues with holiness: “Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am the Lord. 32 You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, 33 who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord.”
    Leviticus 23 is considered to the be the Calendar of Sacred Time. It begins with a declaration which most denominations and religions overlook.  ‘And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’ Leviticus 23:1-2  These are not just the Jewish feasts but in fact clearly the feasts of Adonai and were never replaced or made null and void. 
     There are five accounts in Torah regarding the holy times.  Two are found in Exodus. Exodus 23:14-17 and Exodus 34:18. They are brief and refer to one or all of three pilgrimage festivals, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.  The three others are found in this parsha Emor, Numbers 28-29 (dedicated to special additional sacrifices and offerings for the holy days) and Deuteronomy 16, (where Moses at the end of his life told the next generation where they had come from, where they were going to, and the kind of people they were to be; the opposite of who they were in Egypt).
     But Emor is very distinctive and different. Unlike the Exodus and Deuteronomy passages it includes Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur. It also tells us about the specific mitzvot of the festivals, as in Sukkot where it is the only place in Torah that mentions the arba minim, the “four kinds” and the command to live in a succah or booth. Emor begins with God declaring “these are My feasts” and the holiness of the Sabbath. 
   What is so interesting is the way Emor speaks about the Shabbat.  ‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.’ Leviticus 23:1-3. The Shabbat is not considered a mo’adim. Shabbat is one thing, mo’adim and mikra’ei kodesh are something else.  The Shabbat is a weekly occurrence in God’s order.  Why then, is it the beginning of God’s statements concerning His High Holy Days? The holiness of Shabbat began at creation. It is the predecessor; it is the beginning.  
     Shabbat is often the cut off point for many people. A Passover can be attended, we can blow the shofar on Yom Teruah, and one can visit a family during Sukkot to share a meal. But to cross over and commit our lives to the holiness of Shabbat is a grand leap of faith and obedience.
     The word mo’ed does not just mean “appointed time”.  The same word is in the phrase ohel mo’ed meaning “tent of meeting”. If the ohel mo’ed was the place where man and God met, then the mo’adim in Emor are the times when we and God are to meet. This is an appointment made between God and His people to meet at a certain time and place. As for the phrase mikra kodesh, it is not just a holy day. It is a meeting to which we have been called in love by The Divine One. 
       And this all begins with the Sabbath.