Emor

  1. Why are the offspring contaminated by a Kohen’s marriage to a non-virgin? Because the woman had her soul intertwined with somebody else before the marriage to the Kohen. There was a time before. So even if there is love, it is not the spiritual energy (of religious monogamy) needed to represent Hashem. How does it come through children? They are the physical timeless manifestation of that love.
  2. These disabled people are forbidden from serving. Doesn’t it seem discriminatory? It is. The Kohanim are not individuals but vessels for converting spiritual energy. They must be timeless and insulated from troubles of life in their work. You want them timeless. You don’t want a flight attendant who tells you about his issues with his blood pressure, you want one focused on his job. The Jews are the airline, G-d is the passenger. The Kohanim are the flight attendants.
  3. Same thing with animals.
  4. Now here are the appropriate ways of marking time. These are eternal festivals. But why the fields in the end of this reading? Just as earlier we see the appropriate vehicles for holiness we might think people who don’t have fields don’t participate in the national Shavuot. Converts aren’t necessarily poor, but they are on the list. Why? By giving the corners of the fields and gleanings to the fieldless we understand we can all participate in the national Shavuot and be holy.
  5. The English is ‘afflict your soul’. But the Hebrew word means impoverish (oni). A poor person is poor because they are hungry and not satisfied. They don’t have enough to get by. How does this apply to a soul? To impoverish a soul is to have one that feels hungry and that feels it doesn’t have enough to get by. This is the state of soulfull desire and resulting desire required for repair with Hashem. You are making your soul raw so you can collect the gleanings of his field. You are wounding it so there is a space for Hashem in the space that heals.
  6. Why does the last holiday on the schedule get to be an Atzeret? There are many translations of this word. The Stone uses assembly, the JPS 1917 uses solemn assembly. A common thread is summation. If we look at progressions we can see Pesach eternalizing the Jewish family with the Seder. We can see Shavuot eternalizing the land with its offerings and ownership. We can see Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur eternalizing the individual Jewish soul by repairing its poverty with G-dliness. And then we have the final festival of Atzeret. It brings these holidays and the community all together – it sums them and it eternalizes the Jewish people.
  7. And after all this love and eternity, we turn to death for blasphemy and eye for an eye. How does answering destruction of G-d’s name or of other people’s potential with destruction (even if monetary) make sense. It just means more destruction. We can look at it another way though: A drug dealer can’t come clean with tzedakah. But a drug dealer who has paid the price for the harm he has caused can. The physical damage unlocks the ability to create spiritually once again. A blasphemer, with a spiritual sin of such magnetude (a stealer of G-d’s only sole possession in this world) or a murderer can never produce spiritually and so nothing is lost with the destruction. So why name the blasphemer’s Jewish mother? Because this death enables the Israelite family to recover its spiritual capability.

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