Emor 5782 – Speak!

By: Michael Carr

Picture this – you are Moses (for the moment) you know the prophetic leader of the Israelites who was blessed with a stutter (or so we have read in Exodus).  Also consider – that you have just received a directive from G-d  to ‘get the word out’ about the recently published laws or ‘commandments’ and how to live as Jews in the world.  So there’s a couple of things to consider:  1) how does one get the word out?; and 2) how will everyone in the community remember and follow the commandments?

First, of course, let’s get the ‘logistical stuff’ out of the way. You stand in front of hundreds if not thousands of people reciting the laws as handed down by G-d about how everyone is to live in the world.  Obviously there’s no save the date invites sent out, the only  ‘media’ are ‘the tablets’ and of course no phones, nor recording devices  or any of that jazz.  This was serious specific content communicated orally for a chosen people that provides guidelines/boundaries/pro-scribed rules for how to get along and live in the world as a community with common interests and moral codes.

Next – what about remembering the details of the commandments?  Think about this – these rules, laws, commandments cover a broad number of topics within a variety of areas.  You know, like ALL the rules (there are many) about the high priests (the Kohanim). 

Perhaps the most memorable commandments for the Israelites were those related to the celebration of holidays such as Passover and Sukkot.  Admittedly I’d probably be just as excited about these holidays/festivals since  G-d commands us not to work and instead celebrate by eating Matzah, building leaf covered booths and shaking Lulav’s. 

Of course along with the good or ‘fun’ commandments are those laws that promise to punish people (by stoning them or sending them away from the community) if they  take G-ds name in vain – you know blasphemers or if an individual commits murder. 

So how did we manage to absorb, adopt and live the laws G-d told Moses to deliver to the Chosen People? Maybe the Israelites embraced the laws simply due to the passion or charismatic (or dogmatic) way that Moses expressed the laws when reading and speaking to the Israelites long ago. Those laws that outlined how we were to live our Jewish lives. It’s been said that there is a certain ‘spiritual magic’ that can affect us when someone delivers a message from the heart.

So while it may appear on the surface that Moses is simply speaking words because after all G-d said ‘Moses – EMOR’ – this parasha is more than ‘lip service’. So Parasha Emor is about Moses speaking about festivals and how they work, punishment and reward, and about building community. So while it may have been daunting and or possibly over-whelming to listen, understand and embrace the laws, it would also seem that many were excited about the adventure of a new life they were to build. Parasha Emor is a reminder of the rules, laws and guidelines for a Jewish life. How life was to be lived centuries ago and today as well.

Good Shabbos!