Emor (Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23)

Part of this week’s portion, Emor, is very familiar if you are a Torah reader for your congregation, attend services during the holidays and actually pay attention to the Torah reading, or read it for your Bar Mitzvah (like my son).  Leviticus 22:26-23:44 is read on the second day of Pesach and on the first and second days of Sukkot.  It contains instructions for observing the Sabbath (yet again) and the holidays, i.e., “the appointed seasons.”  Speaking of seasons, spring in Wilmington last year was very nice after a miserable winter.  I even took photos for potential pastel paintings.  This year, I think we were kind of shell-shocked by an even more miserable winter, and the spring started out uncertainly.  But the trees and bushes and flowers are all blooming now, and I hope it doesn’t turn into summer too soon.

Emor actually begins with more instructions for the priests.  There are routine duties, like lighting the lamps at the Tent of meeting and setting out the loaves of showbread each Shabbat (they don’t have to bake them, though).  Naturally, they must be ritually pure to officiate in the Tabernacle.  To help ensure this, priests cannot come in contact with the dead, except for specified close relatives; the High Priest does not get even that exception.  Today, observant Kohanim (descendants of the priests, at least by their family tradition) do not go into cemeteries for that reason.  A priest cannot marry a harlot or a divorcee.  The High Priest additionally can’t marry a widow, but only a virgin.  And of course the sacrifices offered must be without defects.  The priests themselves must be without physical defects (i.e., without the defects listed at 21:18-21) to serve.  We’re not talking Greek Adonis-type perfection here, but wholeness and completeness, attributes of holiness as noted last week (Douglas, Purity and Danger, pp. 52-3).

There is also a numerological approach to holiness that I wrote about here in 2012.  “Seven” and “seventh” occur 19 times, once for the number of days until a newborn animal can be sacrificed, and 18 times related to observance of Sabbath and holidays  based on the sevens in this portion.  And there are sevens elsewhere in the Torah, too, symbolizing Creation and completeness, again, aspects of holiness.  Thus, striving toward holiness is emphasized as a goal for both priests and Israelites.

Shabbat shalom and Lag B’Omer Sameach,



tph season-cycle



[Ken in Seattle – This is for you!]

You live in the Northwest if:

  • You know the state flower (Mildew).
  • You consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it’s not a real mountain.
  • In winter, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark while only working eight-hour days.
  • You are not fazed by ‘Today’s forecast: Showers followed by rain,’ and ‘Tomorrow’s forecast: Rain followed by showers.’
  • You have no concept of humidity without precipitation.
  • You know that Boring is a town in Oregon and not just a state of mind.
  • You use the phrase ‘The mountain is out’ when it is a pretty day and you can actually see it.
  • You put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 50, but still wear your hiking boots and parka.
  • You switch to your sandals when it gets about 60, but keep the socks on.
  • You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.
  • You buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time.
  • You often switch from ‘heat’ to ‘a/c’ in the same day.
  • You design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit under a raincoat.
  • You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Raining, Road Construction, and Deer & Elk season.

Submitted by Gordon, Post Falls, Idaho

More You live in the Northwest if:

  • Rubber boots are a main part of your wardrobe, and they go with everything.
  • You know the difference between: Heavy dew, mist, sprinkle, shower, rain and downpour.
  • (Y)ou have walked out your back door and it is raining but out the front door it is not.
  • That one of the seasons is also fishing season.
  • Outside work does not stop because it is raining, snowing or blowing.

Submitted by Bruce, of Cold Harbor, Ill. friend, Else


Quotations about Perfection

Only in grammar can you be more than perfect. ~William Safire

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without. ~Confucius, Analects

The most difficult part of attaining perfection is finding something to do for an encore. ~Author Unknown

They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds. ~Wilt Chamberlain



How Many of Us (physician-types) Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

[In honor of my son, the (very-soon-to-be) doctor, as well as his father and sister, the other two MD’s in the family IGP]

Q: How many psychiatrists it takes to change a light bulb?
A: Just one, but the light bulb has to really want to change [1].

Q: How many pre-med students does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: 100. 1 to change the light bulb, the other 99 to stand around wondering why they weren’t chosen.
A: 5. One to change the bulb and 4 to pull the ladder out from under him.

Q: How many surgeons does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Surgeons wait for a suitable donor and do a filament transplant.

Q: How many orthopedic surgeons does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. They take out the socket instead. Since the light bulb doesn’t work, you won’t be using the socket anyway, and it will only cause you trouble down the line.

Q: How many chiropractors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only 1, but it’ll take 9 visits.

Q: How many physiotherapists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. They give the dead bulb some strengthening exercises to do and hope it will be working a bit better the next time they see it.

Q: How many plastic surgeons does it take to change a light bulb?
A: A host. One to do the surgery and the rest to present you with options. “Now that you’ve decided on change, do you really want to keep that pear shape? We can take a few of those watts off, and lengthen that filament, and . . . .



Rabbinical Court allows divorcee to marry Cohen

Woman who married in civil ceremony and now seeking to divorce current husband and marry Cohen given special divorce by Rabbinical Court because her original marriage was invalid according to Jewish law

Published: 07.31.12, 14:17 / Israel Jewish Scene

Jewish law states unequivocally that a Cohen cannot marry a divorced woman, but there are exceptions. The Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court last week ruled that it would approve the divorce of two people who married in a civil service in the US – but that the divorce would not interfere with the woman’s marriage to a Cohen.

Israeli law determines that the act of divorce between two people must go through the Rabbinical Court. The couple married in January 2006 in a ceremony with a Christian judge, in the presence of the bride, the groom, and one of the bride’s friends.

Both sides and their relatives testified that they were told the marriage was for the purpose of getting the woman a work visa in the US. The couple lived together for four months.

Now the couple sought to end their marriage and define themselves as divorcees – without the husband giving her a ‘Get’ (Jewish divorce document). The woman testified that she has been in a relationship with a Cohen for over a year and that she wishes to marry him according to Jewish tradition. The husband also stated that if he were to marry in the future he would choose to marry according to Jewish tradition.

In light of the circumstances, the court decided to respond to the couple’s request. The Dayanim ruled that the woman’s request to marry a Cohen meant that she was in the halachic state of ‘Shaat Dachak’ (time of distress) where it is possible to facilitate their request and enact a divorce without a ‘Get.’

Attorney Maggy Halperin who represented the sides said: “We have been witnessing a growing trend of couples who marry in civil ceremonies without being aware of the fact that the marriage is valid (from a Jewish perspective) with all that implies, and when this involves Jewish Israeli residents – the authority (in charge of) divorce is the Rabbinical Court alone….

“We are very happy with the court’s worthy decision which allows the woman to marry the man she wishes to raise a family with and this in spite of it being a case of divorcee and Cohen.”

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