Emor (5776)

Drash Cards for Emor (5776)

 By Marc Mangel

  • Studying the psalms (for more than 30 weeks now) has been exhilariating (you should come!) and has shown us the effect that different translation can have on how one reads the Psalm. So today, I though that I would talk about reading the Torah
  • First, we read today of the Moedim – Pesach, Shavuout, and Sukkot – two of which last more than a week and we often refer to intermediate days as Hol HaMoed – normal/weekday/not holy of the festival.
  • But as Rav Soleveitchik pointed out Moed is not a festival – it is an appointment with God.
  • So Hol HaMoed is better viewed as a ‘weekday appointment with God’ that we should fit into our otherwise busy calendars.
  • Second, let’s look at Ch 23, v 15, which begins “Us-fartem lachem…”. Remind you of anything? Like Lech-lecha that came before and “Slach lecha” that is to come?
  • Why are we to count for ourselves? That is why add the ‘for yourselves’? This must make it something profoundly about us.
  • Here is an answer that the Alter Rebbe learned from the Maggid, who learned it from the Baal Shem Tov. “Us-fartem” can also be translated as “you must make bright” that is “you must make bright yourselves”.
  • In fact, the root of Us-fartem is Safir == sapphire
  • How do we do that? Every week of the Omer has a major sefirah associated with it and every day of the week a minor sefirah.
  • The sixth Rebbe in a maamar Creation and Redemption taught that each week we perfect the major sefirah using the 5 minor sefirot and the major one itself and that on the 7th day of the week of counting Malchut allows the improved personality characteristic to reveal itself.
  • Today our improved version of Netzach [Victory/Endurance/Fortitude/Ambition] reveals itself.
  • .In Israel they announce the day of the omer with the morning news, but do not yet say “And today you should work on this character trait using this character trait as helper”. Maybe some day
  • Finally, I want to talk about what we read at the very end concerning the blasphemer and his fate. The commentators discuss his action and on Ch 24, v 22 (read)   — that there is one law for both native Israelite and convert, i.e. that we do not treat people differently.
  • The commentators also ask exactly what caused the blasphemy. This includes the Talmud, R. Bachya, Ramban, and Malbim.
  • Ch 24, v 10 (read) tells us that he was the son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man and that the quarrel was about pitching his tent in the Israelite camp.
  • Why quarrel? His mother was Israelite so it should be clear that he was also Israelite. But at that time lineage passed via the father not the mother.
  • So a fundamental precept of Judaism changed from the time of the Exodus.

I do not have time here to go into that history, but let us recognize that without reading commentary, we could not understand this situation.

  • So,
  • Keep your appointments with God – including the weekly one here
  • Next week, work on Hod [Humility/Splendor/Devotion] using the daily relevant personality traits to help improve Hod until we reveal it next Shabbat, and
  • Remember that without commentary the Torah is easily misinterpreted or worse.