Hebraic Studies – Haftarah Emor

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Haftarah Emor

Please Note: I will be using the “Jewish Publication Society” (JPS version of the Torah/Tanakh) with some minor updates.

For who may not use a Hebrew/English Torah/Tanakh and have a Bible the verse may occasionally differ by one up or down

With Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham.

Please Note: I will be using the “Jewish Publication Society” (JPS version of the Torah/Tanakh) with Name updates.


In this study what we sort of learn here is that the priest had to visit the clothing store, and then head for the barber because: “they shall neither shave their heads nor let their hair go untrimmed; they shall keep their hair trimmed.” (44:20), which we will read as we go on. But then again, nothing is for nothing as everything is for a reason. As it is with our lives and how we live it!

“But the priests the Levites, the sons of Tzadok, that kept the charge of My Sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near to Me to minister unto Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer unto Me the fat and the blood, saith Elohim; they shall enter into My Sanctuary, and they shall come near to My table, to minister unto Me, and they shall keep My charge. And it shall be that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come upon them, while they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within. They shall have linen tires upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat. And when they go forth into the outer court, even into the outer court to the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they minister, and lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments, that they sanctify not the people with their garments. Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads. Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court. Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away; but they shall take virgins of the seed of the house of Israel, or a widow that is the widow of a priest.

And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the common, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. And in a controversy they shall stand to judge; according to Mine ordinances shall they judge it; and they shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed seasons, and they shall hallow My Sabbaths. And they shall come near no dead person to defile themselves; but for father, or for mother, or for son, or for daughter, for brother, or for sister that hath had no husband, they may defile themselves. And after he is cleansed, they shall reckon unto him seven days. And in the day that he goeth into the Sanctuary, into the inner court, to minister in the Sanctuary, he shall offer his sin-offering, saith Elohim. And it shall be unto them for an inheritance: I am their inheritance; and ye shall give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession. The meal-offering, and the sin-offering, and the guilt-offering, they, even they, shall eat; and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. And the first of all the first-fruits of every thing, and every heave-offering of every thing, of all your offerings, shall be for the priests; ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, to cause a blessing to rest on thy house. The priests shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself, or is torn, whether it be fowl or beast” Yechezkel - Ezekiel 44: 15-31 (JPS version of the Tanakh).

We should really look back in time, as Yechezkel - Ezekiel’s insists that only Cohanim, the priests descended from “Tzadok” have the right to enter the Sanctuary and minister to Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified name.

According to the Tanakh, Tzadok was a priest during King Dovid’s reign who supported Shlomo - Solomon’s claim to the throne against Dovid’s other sons; when Shlomo - Solomon triumphed, not surprisingly Tzadok became High Priest (Melachim Aleph - 1 Kings 1:8, 32, 39-45).

However, we should understand that a “Tzadokite” priest is not one descended from a man named “Tzadok”, but rather one who is a righteous Cohan.

We might generally and quite sensibly believe that good person is one who does all the right things. But that definition does raises two other questions such as 1. How do we know what the right thing really is in various situations? And 2. How can we train ourselves to do all that is right and perfect?

Civilization is able to provide us with countless answers, but personally I believe that there is just one perfect answer and it is all found in the Torah and our full and comprehensive faith in Elohim, blessed be He!

It is through living in faith and doing mitzvoth will serve to improve our being and as this teaching provides us to do those things which are right and not to do other things which are forbidden. Believe me, our way to good character comes both from those mitzvoth with explicit ethical character always keeping the Torah in mind.

Thus as we are taught in the lesson:

We should live naturally, following the middle path, eating a moderate portion of permitted food, drinking a moderate portion of permitted drink, engaging in permitted sexual relations in a moderate way, and creating a society (based on) righteousness and justice - we need not live in caves or on mountains, nor wear sackcloth and coarse wool. There is no need to weary the body, or drain it or oppress it.

And sure enough, we find in Haftarah Emor that the Cohan need trim his hair, but not grow it long or shave his head. Indeed he may marry, but not just everyone, there are certain ones some are absolutely denied to him. He may wear reasonable clothing, but not ostentatiously adorn himself.

Clothing thus serves not merely as a metaphor for righteous conduct, but as a method of establishing that conduct. Of course people can have habits without becoming righteous; the point is that linking habits with conduct can develop righteousness if we seek to do so. Even the most intimate garments a Cohan wears are dedicated to community service. Every action he takes is designed to remind him of his sacred and community duty, and we hope that this gets into his soul. Priesthood, then, is not an occupation: it is a craft bound up literally in every fabric of his life. But, the days of fully serving Cohan’s are behind us until that day in the future, but, there is a lesson in this for all of us today!

All of us should learn, for it forms the most powerful way of becoming an ethical and a faithful human being. When we lie down, and rise up, and walk by the way, and put on our clothes, eat, drink, and everything else we do we are actually crafting our souls. The question we must ask ourselves with is: “What kind of souls are we creating?”

Are we living the life? Is fun first and foremost? Is your cupboard full of shoes and expensive shoes; is life all about parties and drink? Sadly, in general that is the way of the world and with all that comes so much more, I am afraid. But, as a good and faithful Jew, Elohim should always be first and foremost in your life, as well as upholding His Torah!

And the lessen we have also learned is to dress moderately, sadly there are some these days who follow fashion, and I am sorry, there are some who sadly do not look very moderate but could be describes in quite another way which I just will not do.

The following verse calls us to be His witnesses, of His servants, and even if it is through a normal Jewish life, share His greatness and that He is Echad

“‘Ye are My witnesses, saith , and My servant whom I have chosen; that ye may KNOW and BELIEVE Me, and UNDERSTAND that I am He; before Me there was no Elohim formed, neither shall any be after Me’” Yeshayahu – Isaiah 43: 10 (JPS version of the Tanakh).

For those who have a yearning to learn more about the Torah and grow in being a good and faithful Jew, there are many valuable studies on Hebraic Studies, and you are welcome to email me.

And remember our motto seen on the logo at the top of this page: “The More Torah, the More Life”, for Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, is the one who gave us our Life!”

Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham.


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