Emor is one of those portions a Torah reader gets a lot of mileage out of, since a chunk of it, 22:26-23:44, is also read on the first 2 days of Sukkot (day 1 was my son’s Bar Mitzvah – we didn’t make him read the next day too) and the second day of Passover (my Torah reading debut many years earlier), as well as the regular annual reading. I like what I wrote in 2012 about Emor and Lag B’Omer (which occurs next Thursday), so once again:
“Lag B’Omer, the 33rd (in the Hebrew alphabet, lamed=30 and gimel=3, whence “Lag” for 33) day of the counting of the omer, which began the second day of Pesach. The period between Pesach and Shavuot is a semi-mourning period which is suspended on Lag B’Omer, allowing activities like weddings and other celebrations, picnics, haircuts and beard trimming. Archery was also a custom, possibly as a reminder of the revolts against the Romans like the Bar Kochba revolt (132 CE). In one tradition, a plague killed which had killed thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students at the time of the Bar Kochba revolt against Rome (132 CE) ceased on Lag B’Omer. Another tradition holds that Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai, a disciple of R. Akiva who survived the revolt, continued to defy Rome, hid for years in a cave with his son, became a mystic, and died on Lag B’Omer. For more
information, see, e.g., the article by Francine Klagsbrun at http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Shavuot/In_the_Community/Counting_the_Omer/Lag_BaOmer.shtml
“Anyhow, this week’s Torah portion, Emor, begins with laws concerning special restrictions for the priests (Ch. 21 and 22). A person contracts ritual impurity on contact with a corpse, so a priest cannot tend to dead bodies except for his parent, child, brother and virgin sister; the high priest cannot even for those. A priest cannot marry a harlot or divorcee; the high priest additionally cannot marry a widow but only a virgin. To be fit for offering sacrifices, a priest also has to be physically “perfect,” i.e., not physically defective or incomplete (21:18-23 lists unacceptable defects). The sacrifices themselves must also be defect free.
Chapter 23, which is also read on the first and second days of Sukkot and the second day Pesach, deals with the “fixed times,” i.e., Sabbath and holidays: Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot (with Shemini Atzeret, but not Simchat Torah, which is post-Biblical). Yes, there are obligatory sacrifices, but this time the descriptions are fleshed out (no pun intended) with rituals specific to each holiday (like eating matzah).
“Chapter 24 includes directions for kindling the lamps with pure olive oil and an incident of spoken blasphemy. The blasphemer is stoned to death, so this is followed by laws concerning capital punishment (e.g., for blasphemy and for murder) and appropriate restitution in cases of assault, formulaically described in 24:20 as ‘fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’
“What do these seemingly disparate chapters have to do with each other? One clue is found in verse 22:27 in which we read that an animal must stay with its mother for seven days before it can be sacrificed. Why seven? Maimonides explains that the animal is not yet fully “complete” (viable?) until seven days have passed; similarly, a boy is not circumcised until it has lived a week. There are sevens throughout this portion: resting on the seventh day (commemorating the completion of Creation), eating matzah for seven days, singling out the seventh day of Pesach as a holiday, counting seven weeks (7×7 days) from the second day of Pesach to Shavuot, and celebrating Sukkot for seven days. There are also seven lamps to be kindled (Exod. 25:37). And just a few weeks ago, we read about a seven-day period of seclusion for Aaron and his son’s as part of their ordination (Lev. 8:33-35).
All of these promote reaching a stage of being fully conscious of the special service to the Lord being performed, a state of completeness and holiness. And that state, completeness and holiness, also describes the priests when they are fit to offer sacrifices. Thus, the sevens running through the portion connote the striving for completeness and holiness by both priests and Israelites.”
There’s a humorous description of The Perfect Rabbi that I have posted here in the past. I note below additional requirements for the perfect female congregational rabbi, which I wrote several years ago:
The Perfect Female Rabbi
She is 28 years old and has been married for 30 years.
She has 3 children and has never having taken any maternity leave (giving birth on her day off, back at the synagogue the next day).
She is a properly subservient leader.
She is learned and never shows it.
She dresses in a style that is neither too feminine, too masculine, nor too neutral.
She has a soft voice that can be heard in the back of the auditorium.
She is an emotional, giving person who never cries or touches you.
She is always available to her children and husband at home and spends 7 am to 1 am at the synagogue.
Additions to this list, or the top one, would be appreciated!
“Seven Costanza… You’re serious?”
“Yeah. It’s a beautiful name for a boy or a girl. Especially a girl… Or a boy.”
“I don’t think so.”
“What, you don’t like the name?”
“It’s not a name. It’s a number.”
“I know. It’s Mickey Mantle’s number. So not only is it an all-around beautiful name, it is also a living tribute.”
– George and Susan, in “The Seven”
“Seven? Yeah, I guess I could see it. Seven. Seven periods of school, seven beatings a day. Roughly seven stitches a beating, and eventually seven years to life. Yeah, you’re doing that child quite a service.”
– Jerry, in “The Seven”
“I defy you to come up with a better name than Seven.”
“Alright, let’s see… How about Mug? Mug Costanza. That’s original. Or Ketchup. Pretty name for a girl.”
“Alright… You having a good time now?”
“I’ve got fifty right here in the cupboard… How about Bisquick? Pimento? Gherkin? Sauce? Maxwell House?”
– George and Jerry, in “The Seven”
Since it is traditional to count 49 days from the 2nd day of Pesach until the holiday of Shavuot, referred to as “Sefirat HaOmer “commemorating the offerings of an “omer” of barley ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counting_of_the_Omer ) , here are
Top Ten Ways To Remember to Count Sefirat Omer by isaac galena Posted: 07-22-2006 (Viewed 507 times)
10. 49 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.
9. Sing really elaborate “Who Knows One?” seder song
8. Set alarm clock to go off every time second hand hits the corresponding sefirah day
7. Make a mark on your hand under your “Remember Sammy Jankis” tattoo [reference to the 2000 movie Memento – the protagonist could not make new memories, if I recall correctly]
6. Kindly ask your secretary to remind you to count the daily wheat sheaf offering
5. Pledge to give money to local Islamic Jihad for every day you miss
4. Initiate minhag [custom] to count only prime numbers
3. Rename day’s number after sports player who wears that number (Did we count Michael Jordan or Willie Mays today?)
2. Three Words: Yellow Post-it Bonanza
1. Count sheep
The Top 15 Signs Your Co-Worker’s Jewish Holiday Wasn’t Strictly Observed
15> Telltale mouse ears on his new “yarmulke.”
14> Sun worshipping appears to be the only thing accomplished that was even remotely religious.
13> Thinks that the Torah is something you wear to a frat party.
12> Comes back wearing a “Club Med: The Sea may be Dead, but not the night-life!” T-shirt.
11> You happen to know there are no High Holy Day services at Santa Anita Racetrack.
10> Kareem in Accounting keeps calling it “Yom Shakur.”
9> As far as you know, circumcisions don’t “grow back.”
8> Doesn’t know the difference between Hebrew and Home-brew.
7> She’s complaining that Kathie Lee isn’t really on all Carnival Cruises.
6> Claims he was observing “Chaka Khan.”
5> Menorah on his desk displays three sleeves worth of golf balls.
4> Thinks “Rosh Hashanah” is a song by The Knack.
3> His yarmulke has two cans of beer and a drinking straw.
2> “And if the rabbi sees his shadow when he comes out of the temple, there’ll be four more months of summer.”
and the Number 1 Sign Your Co-Worker’s Jewish Holiday Wasn’t Strictly Observed…
1> Took off all of *last* month for Ramadan.
[This list copyright 1997 by Chris White and Ziff Davis, Inc.]
[ To forward or repost, please include this section. ]
Q: What did the archer get when he hit a bullseye?
A: a very angry bull.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
It’s very uncommon for two archers to have the same score. Everyone knows that bow ties went out of style years ago.
Political Lightbulb Jokes
How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to change it, and another one to change it back again.
Four, one to change it and the other three to deny it.
How many US Presidents does it take to screw in a light bulb?
None, the constitution says that only Congress can screw in light bulbs, so only Congress is responsible for the dark, which is why we need a Constitutional amendment.
How many presidential campaign staff does it need to change a light bulb?
220! One to write a speech about how good it will be when the bulb is actually changed, one to write a speech about why the other candidates can’t even spell “light bulbe”, eighteen to find out what the other candidates did when the light bulb failed, and another two hundred to find out what the other candidate’s families think about light bulbs, bulbs, pear-shaped objects, light in general, any form of energy.
How many believable, competent, “just right for the job” presidential candidates does it take to change a light bulb?
It’s going to be a dark 4 years, isn’t it?