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June 22, 2024

Emor (Say) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion


Leviticus, 21:1-24:23

This Week’s Torah Portion | May 12 – May 18, 2024 – 4 Lyyar – 10 Lyyar, 5784

In A Nutshell

The portion, Emor (Say), begins with rules concerning priests, forbidding them to marry a divorced woman, a widow, or a whore, and permitting them to marry only a virgin. They are also forbidden to approach the dead. Only kin are permitted to be defiled and approach the dead. The High Priest is forbidden to be defiled even by his own kin have died. They are forbidden to shave their heads and beards, and they are forbidden to cast any flaws in their bodies. A Cohen (priest) with a blemish in his body will not be considered a priest, and will not be able to serve in the Temple. The portion also introduces laws of purity and impurity for priests, such as the prohibition on eating offerings, and the rules for a barren or divorced daughter of a priest.

The portion also mentions many rules concerning the Sabbath, Passover, the seventh of Passover, Shavuot, the Omer Count, and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). The end of the portion speaks of a quarrel between two men, one of whom said the name of the Creator and cursed. He was punished by ejection from the camp and execution by stoning.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

What is so special about this portion that elaborates so much about priests and festivals?

The correction is only a correction of the heart, which contains all 613 desires we need to correct from using our ego in order to receive into using it in order to bestow, in favor of others and love of others. The whole Torah deals with the correction of the heart. The first stage in the correction of the heart is when we get rid of the ego. The second stage is when we use all of our heart in favor of others.

The portion describes all the levels of correction. It is written, “And you will be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus, 19:6). This means that everyone must reach the highest degree (a Cohen [priest])——following the preparation described in the portions, Aharei Mot (After the Death) and Kedoshim (Holy). The Torah constantly promotes us until we enter the land of Israel and achieve Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator.

The portion starts with elaborating on the terms of the degree of priests. A person must correct the desires, as it specifies—prohibition on marrying a divorcee, a widow, or a whore. A priest must also avoid shaving his face and his head. He must also maintain these prohibitions until he is corrected and sees his desires in the image of man. It is as we learn regarding the perception of reality: the whole world is a reflection of our desires, an outward projection of our internality.

A priest must have natural desires that have been corrected into aiming to bestow. He must not impair his body, make any kind of paintings on it, or touch his hair. The hair is a special correction. The word Se’arot (hair) comes from the word Se’arah (storm). They are to be corrected and therefore must not be removed.

A priest is a state in which one can truly work with all the desires in order to bestow, with all the deficiencies, with the “stormy hair.” His females, namely his desires to receive, have been corrected and are no longer on the degrees of whore, divorcee, or a widow. Rather, they are virgins. A person comes to a degree where he corrects his desires back to their natural state.

The priest must approach the work of God through the work of sacrifices. He must bring his desires closer and closer to the aim to bestow, to love. Everyone must reach this degree. A person who has reached this degree is regarded as “serving in the Temple.” On the degree of priests, we place all 613 desires, called “our heart,” in the house of Kedusha (holiness) as a holy Kli (vessel) that is entirely in bestowal.

On festivals, we correct ourselves in stages that are seemingly external stages. The system changes and gives us a chance to correct our desires further in external conditions on the festivals mentioned in the Torah: Passover, Shavuot, and Yom Kippur. The Torah tells us about all the festivals except for Hanukah and Purim.

Hanukah means Hanu Koh (parked here). We achieve the correction of bestowing in order to bestow when we rise above our egos and reach the degree of Bina, of the phrase, “That which you hate, do not do to your friend.”[1] In this way we detach ourselves from the egoistic will to receive and rise above it.

Purim is when a person actually achieves the end of correction. On Yom Kippur (Kippur means Ke Purim [as Purim]) we discover the evil in us has and regret it. At the same time, we are happy because now we know what to correct. Yom Kippur is not only a day of weeping. Rather, it is a day of great joy because we are happy that a trail by which to reach Purim has opened up to us, and we correct all the desires into bestowal, to love. On Purim we kill the Haman in us, all the evil in us, and achieve the end of correction—complete equivalence with the Creator.

The portion, Emor, contains all the preparations, all the previous portions. It deals with ascending to the highest degree. The portion also deals with the Sabbath, a sabbatical year, the seventh day of Passover, the seventh day of the weak, and the seventh year. It is a degree we always acquire along the way because Zeir Anpin contains six workdays; it is the upper Partzuf from which we receive the lights.

All the lights, which correspond to HesedGevuraTifferetNetzahHod, and Yesod, enter our hearts (Malchut) during the six days. Then comes the seventh day, when we do nothing. These qualities conclude the work, so no further efforts are required of us, except to maintain the situation so the lights will treat it and sanctify it. This is why the seventh day is considered a “day of holiness,” since on it we raise all the desires to the aim to bestow.

There also concerns the seventh day of Passover, the seventh day of Shavuot, as it is written, “Seven whole weeks shall there be” (Leviticus, 23:15), which are forty-nine days from Passover to Shavuot, and the seventh year, Shmita (omission). Such is the cycle of seven.

The seventh of Passover, the Omer Count, Shavuot, it all seems like a process. What is Passover and what is the process between Passover and Shavuot?

Passover is our escape from the ego, from Egypt. Although we begin to detach from it, it continues to accompany us on future degrees in problems that befall us, such as the golden calf, the water of strife, and the spies. These are all results from Egypt.

The desert is a state where one detaches and cleanses from the ego up to the degree of Bina, the entrance to the land of Israel. That state is called “forty years in the desert” because it is the correction we receive upon the exit from the ego. It is not simple; the corrections are recognition of our nature, disclosing of our broken desires and the understanding how to correct them.

The first correction is when we emerge from the ego and rise above it. This is called the “exodus from Egypt” and the “tearing of the Red Sea.” We instantaneously shift from the will to receive in order to receive, namely Egypt, and move into the desert. This is why we still do not know what to do, what will happen to us, and how it will unfold. We cannot know how to work with our nature not for our own benefit. For this reason we go through a period of confusion until we come to the tearing of the Red Sea and being at the foot of Mount Sinai.

Here the correction is in the same will to receive from which we have detached, and over which we transcended. Toward Shavuot we begin to correct it in order to bestow, toward the reception of the Torah. Seven Sabbaths are seven times seven, which is forty-nine days for corrections. Our correction is done by the six Sephirot of the upper force, Zeir Anpin, who is called The Blessed One Be He. This is the upper system that corrects us, containing six qualities—HesedGevuraTifferetNetzahHod, and Yesod—which enter Malchut, our will to receive, and correct the will to receive. When these qualities correct the will to receive, we have actually corrected ourselves by counting. That is, when we seemingly count money, we pay by performing corrections each day.

During each day and night, we bless for the Sephira (singular of Sephirot) that is a result of the passing day, from night to day, as it is written, “And there was evening, and there was morning” (Genesis, 1:5). In the previous day we have corrected in the evening, too, in the revelation of the bad, as well as during the day, in the revelation of the good. We have drawn lights that corrected the desires to receive, and thus concluded the day. This is why we give thanks for having corrected the Sephira. We count the Sephirot, which is why it is called the “Omer Count.” This is how all our desires are corrected.

After thirty-three days there is a special day, LAG baOmerLAG means thirty-three, in the Sephirot HesedGevuraTifferetNetzahHodYesod, and Malchut. Multiply the seven Sephirot by seven and you have forty-nine. We begin to search for the middle. If have received all the lights before we have reached the middle, we are guaranteed to finish successfully. It is similar to a person not being given everything, but if some of the forces have been given, if some of the forces have been corrected, that person can help him or herself and begin to understand and advance independently toward the end—the correction of Shavuot. This is the state of a person on the 33rd day of the count.

We count HesedGevuraTifferet, and Netzah, which are complete Sephirot, the lights that must reach us. In the Sephira Hod we count five SephirotHesedGevuraTifferetNetzah, and Hod. In Hod of Hod, if we have received the lights from above up to the point of incision, we are guaranteed to continue successfully. Thirty-three symbolizes the reception of all the lights of correction; this is why we are happy and celebrate the festival of light by lighting fires.

Does the thirty-third SephiraHod of Hod, symbolize the conclusion of part of the process?

Yes. Henceforth there is no doubt that the person will accomplish the Shavuot. This is why the prohibition on marrying (that begins after Passover night) is lifted on that day. Marriage means connection with Malchut. Other prohibitions are lifted on that day, such as the prohibition on cutting one’s hair. These corrections manifest externally, too, but the majority of corrections are inside, corrections we perform on ourselves by the light that shines on us, and through the giving we obtain the love of others.

Why is it that once a person has already reached the degree of “priest,” one is still bound by many laws and prohibitions?

It is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus, 11:44). When in Kedusha (sanctity/holiness), we delight in these actions. They are not unwelcome, but rather desirable. Thus, if we try to take from a mother half her work with her baby she will not let us. She enjoys what she does for it. The baby has become a source of pleasure for her. Now this work seem hard to us, but when it becomes bestowal, and corresponding to it we receive the light that shines for us and fills us, we feel the eternity and perfection in nature, and rise above all the limitations of this world. Then there is only goodness for us.

Why is marriage such a serious matter for a priest; is marriage the connection?

The will to receive in him (Malchut), must be cleaned of any blemishes. Previously he was seemingly married to a whore, a widow, or a divorcee. That is, his desires were faulty. Now he has risen to a degree where his desire to receive is like a virgin, like the desire that the Creator created. The Creator gave us a desire to receive, but we discover it only in the final, fourth stage. YodHeyVavHey, this is how we go through all the desires until we come to the virgin, meaning as the Creator gave it. This way we can work with the entire desire.

Why is it forbidden to say the name of the Creator?

“Saying” is revealing. There is an inner revelation, which is to bestow in order to bestow, and there is an external revelation, which is to receive in order to bestow. There are limitations to it, but it does not refer to saying the words ADNIHaVaYaH, and so forth. A person makes a Zivug de Hakaa on the upper light that must reach the Kelim. In revealing, one discloses it from the lips and out, to the external ones. “External ones” are desires that have not been corrected. It is forbidden to disclose the name of the Creator, the upper light, to the external desires, which are outside of Kedusha and have not been corrected, as this would seemingly “short-circuit” the light with a Kli that has not been corrected with a Masach and Ohr Hozer. This is why it is called the “revelation of the bad,” and not the “revelation of the good.”

From The Zohar: The Sons of Aaron

Aaron is the beginning of all the priests in the world because the Creator chose him out of everyone to make peace in the world, and because Aaron’s ways rose with him to it. It is so because all of Aaron’s days, he would try to increase peace in the world. And because so were his ways, the Creator lifted him to priesthood, so he would instill peace in the household of above, for by his work, he causes the Zivug of the Creator with His Divinity, and peace is made in all the worlds.

Zohar for AllEmor (Say), item 2

A priest’s role is to enhance peace in the world.

A research in genetics revealed that priesthood is hereditary. The researchers sampled Jews with surnames that indicate relation to priesthood (Kahana, Katz, Cohen, etc.) from all factions of the Jewish people, and discovered the same gene among all of them. How is being a Cohen related to the corporeal world if we should all be priests?

We cannot know what genetic changes will happen when we are all corrected. Perhaps we will rise above all that is physical. We must understand that there is the first HaVaYaH in the world of Ein Sof (infinity), then a replication of the HaVaYaH in the four Behinot (discernment) of Ohr Yashar (Direct Light) on each degree, called “ten Sephirot.” Every bottom degree consists of a more materialized substance than the top degree, but the combination, HaVaYaH, remains. This is why it is written, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi, 3:6).

The first HaVaYaH is the light that expands in four Behinot and reaches Malchut. That structure stays. According to this pattern, as the light descends from degree to degree, from the world of Ein Sof to our world, it gives us Partzufim (plural of Partzuf), worlds, and Sephirot, and everything we learn in the upper system. This is how it is in all the worlds. The Neshama (soul), called Adam HaRishon (the First Man), was also created by the same structure, following the same internal make-up. That pattern exists in everything.

We learn that Abraham wanted to correct all of Babylon, and in each of us is a root by which we can reach the high priest. Everyone must reach it, as it is written, “They shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jeremiah, 31:33), and “My house shall be called ‘a house of prayer’ for all the nations” (Isaiah, 56:7). There are desires and souls that are easier, and there are those that are harder, depending on the level of the flaw. The easier ones are the children of Israel. They have to be the first to correct, hence there are stronger sparks of light in them, which are clear and burning, and appear as Cohen, Levi, and Israel.

There are people who look at a person and know if he or she is a Cohen (descendant of a priest). It is harder to spot a Levite or Israel. Not surprisingly, we can find these things in biology and medicine because everything in our world comes from the world Ein Sof and is replicated in our physical world, in our genes. This is why it must also happen in this world. Perhaps we have not discovered all the phenomena, but it is clear that every phenomenon in the world is the same as the phenomena that exist above, except here they exist in matter, not in potential.

[1] Masechet Shabbat, 31a.

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