Parshat Emor Summary

Parshat Emor is the 8th parsha in Sefer Vayikra (also known as Leviticus).

This parsha is verses Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23, or a total of 124 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

Aliyah 1: Leviticus 21:1 – 21:15, 15 verses

The priests must observe some stringencies in their conduct because have a special role in serving God.

A priest should not come into contact with a dead person. The only exception is for certain close relatives: mother, father, son, daughter, brother, unmarried sister, and wife. Wife is not stated explicitly in the verse. It is understood from the phrase “the relative who is the closest to him.”

A priest may not marry a harlot, a divorcee, or any other woman who is forbidden to marry a priest. However, he may marry a widow.

The High Priest has further restrictions. He may not come into contact with any deceased person. He may only marry a virgin.

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Aliyah 2: Leviticus 21:16 – 22:16, 25 verses

A priest with certain physical blemishes may not serve in the Temple.

When a priest becomes impure (in Hebrew, tamei) he may not serve in the Temple until he becomes pure (in Hebrew, tahor).

Farmers separate a portion of their crop (about 2%) and give it to a priest. This portion is called “terumah.” Only a priest or members of his household are permitted to eat terumah.

If a non-priest eats terumah, he must repay it to the priest. Also, he must pay a penalty of an additional “fifth” to what he owes the priest. (According to Jewish tradition, this added “fifth” is one-fifth of the total payment. In other words, the penalty is actually 25% of the original amount eaten by the non-priest.)

Aliyah 3: Leviticus 22:17 – 22:33, 17 verses

An animal that has certain physical blemishes may not be brought as an offering to God. If it is brought as an offering, a person does not fulfill his obligation with it.

A blemished animal may be donated to the Temple. It is then sold and the money used for Temple maintenance.

A new-born animal may not be brought as an offering. It must stay with its mother for seven days. From the 8th day and onward it may be brought as an offering.

Aliyah 4: Leviticus 23:1 – 23:22, 22 verses

Leviticus Chapter 23 presents us with more details about the Jewish holy days. God has given us these days to withdraw from our normal activities and contemplate the past and future of the Jewish people.

The chapter begins with the Sabbath / Shabbat. The Sabbath celebrates God’s creation of the universe and our world. Therefore, we are not permitted to work on Shabbat.

The first festival is Passover / Pesach. Pesach begins on the 15th of Nissan and is seven days long. The 1st and 7th days of Pesach are festival days so work is not permitted on them.

Passover coincides with the beginning of the barley harvest. The Jewish people are commanded to bring an offering of barley into the Temple. This offering is brought on the second day of Passover.

There is another commandment to count the days between Passover and Shavuot. This counting starts on the second day of Passover. The commandment is to count the days and the weeks for a total of 7 weeks and 49 days (up to day 50).

What would be day 50 of that counting is celebrated as the festival of Shavuot. Shavuot is only one day long. Shavuot always falls on the 6th of Sivan with our fixed calendar.

This section ends with a reminder to Jewish farmers to leave a portion of their crop in the field for the poor to gather.

Aliyah 5: Leviticus 23:23 – 23:32, 10 verses

The first day of the 7th month (Tishrei) is a holy day. In this section of the Torah there are very few details about this day. It’s mentioned as a day when work is prohibited and an offering is brought. It’s also called “remembrance of shofar sounds.” We celebrate this day as Rosh HaShanah, the beginning of the new year and the beginning of creation.

The 10th day of the 7th month is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. We are not allowed to do any work and it is required to afflict ourselves.

We learned back in Parshat Acharei, that according to Jewish tradition “affliction” means to refrain from bathing, anointing with oil, marital relations, wearing leather shoes, and eating and drinking.

Aliyah 6: Leviticus 23:33 – 23:44, 12 verses

The 15th of Tishrei is the first day of the festival called Sukkot. Sukkot lasts for 7 days. Then the 8th day is a one-day long festival known as Shemini Atzeret.

Each festival day has its own special offerings that are brought on it. Part of the Sukkot celebration requires the holding and waving of four plants: a citron, a palm frond, and some myrtle and willow branches.

The person celebrating Sukkot lives in a temporary hut to commemorate the huts that the Jewish people lived in while they were in the desert.

Aliyah 7: Leviticus 24:1 – 24:23, 23 verses

parshat Emor Summary

The Menorah inside the Tabernacle and the Temple is to be lit using olive oil.

One of the pieces of furniture inside the Tabernacle and Temple was the Table. There are to be 12 loaves of bread on the Table at all times.

Every Shabbat the bread that was on the Table is taken off and replaced with 12 fresh loaves. The priests serving in the Temple at that time eat the bread that was removed from the Table.

The son of an Egyptian man and Jewish woman got into a fight. During the fight he blasphemed God. He was “arrested” until God would clarify what should be done with him.

God revealed several laws to Moses:

  • the blasphemer is to be stoned
  • a murderer is to be put to death
  • the person who kills an animal is required to pay the owner
  • a person who wounds another person has the same wound inflicted on him*

* This is the famous “eye for an eye” passage. According to tradition, the meaning of “the same wound inflicted on him” is monetary compensation. The Gemara has a lengthy discussion showing that monetary compensation is the only way to satisfy the Torah’s requirement.

Haftarah Summary

Ezekiel 44:15 – 31

The prophet reveals the standard of conduct required of the priests who will serve in the Third Temple.

Further Reading

Here is another article about Yom Kippur:
Inspiration for After Yom Kippur

Here is an article about the Third Temple:
Will There be Sacrifices in the Third Temple

A Note on the Translations
The translation of Bible verses is based on the Judaica Press Tanach.
The translation of Gemara is based on the Soncino Talmud.
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