Thursday, May 5, 2011

Parashat Emor

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Emor. This portion begins with the honorable status of Kohanim and the prohibition for Kohanim to become impure from coming into contact with a deceased, aside from the seven relatives. In addition the Torah prohibits a Kohen from marrying a divorcee. Also, in this week's portion discusses all the Festivals/Holidays of the year and mitzvohs that apply to each of them.

As we are now in the days of counting the Omer, and we well know that these days are the time when the disciples of Rebbe Akiva passed away, due the lack of respect they demonstrated to each other, it is incumbent upon us to work toward unity and character improvement specifically in relation to one another.

The Shach writes that the reason why a Kohen is prohibited to marry a divorcee is, because a Kohein is supposed to be a uniting force (as was Aharon Hakohen - Oheiv Sholom v'Rodeif Sholom - Loved peace and chased after it), therefore he can not marry someone who went thru division. It is interesting to note, that parshas Emor is always read during the days of counting the Omer.

Later in the portion the Torah teaches us the Mitzvah of counting the omer seven full weeks from the second day of Pesach until Shavuos, in anticipation of receiving the Torah.

When the Medrash discusses sefiras haomer, the Medrash relates the following story: Rebbe Shimon the son of Rebbe married off his son and he failed to invite Bar Kappara (a great Tanna - sage). Bar Kappara felt hurt. When R' Shimon became aware of that, he made a special party and invited all the sages of that time to participate. When the waiters brought the food to the table, Bar Kappara rose and delivered a lengthy speech, until the food became cold. When R' Shimon asked him why he needed to speak just then, he responded "I wanted you to realize that it wasn't the food which I wanted, it was rather the company of the great people, my friends, (at the wedding) that I missed".

The M'aor vAshemesh explains that the reason the Medrash brings this story concerning the Mitzvah of counting the omer, to teach us that during these days when we prepare for receiving the Torah, we need to be most cautious and sensitive to other people's feelings. Then and only then can we be worthy of receiving the The Torah.

May we all merit to have a good chodesh (month of Iyar), the month in which the Man began to fall from Heaven, and may we all be blessed with an abundance of good will to each other and the ability to assist one another both materially and spiritually.

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