Parashah #31: Emor ( Speak) Vayikra (Leviticus) 21:1-24:23

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #31 Emor (Speak) Vayikra (Leviticus) 21:1-24:23
Haftarah: Yechezk’el (Ezekiel) 44:15-31
B’rit Chadashah: Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:38-42

The focus of this parashah is the Priesthood service and the sacredness of G-d’s designated times. Let’s start with the laws for the priests. Logic dictates that to influence an entire nation, the leadership must set the example. Without consistent leadership that reflects G-d’s commands/laws, and statutes, there can never be an optimally functioning society. Evidence to this statement is all around us with leaders that have drifted far and away from G-d’s Torah/instructions that include His designated holy days. By designating and setting standards for the priesthood, their example inspired the people to learn the true meaning of holiness. Even the sacrifices were under the supervision of the priests, who guided the people in their worship of G-d. The commands were consistent for the entire priesthood so that there was no room for elaboration, misinterpretation, or omission. The concept of a consistent holy life from the leadership to all the people has not been abrogated, regardless of the invasion of secular humanism and indoctrination of a pagan lifestyle that has infected our world.
Consistent with the truth that to whom much is given, much is required, there were specific rules for the priesthood that separated them from the general population. They were not permitted to shave their heads, cut their flesh, or shave the edges of their beards such as was common practice in the heathen people of the Middle East. They had the distinct privlege of offering food and meat to G-d in His presence. They were not to take a woman for a wife who was of questionable character or was divorced or widowed. The choice of a wife was to reflect the innocence and purity of Adam and Eve before the Fall. The priests had to be without blemish. Those who had any sort of “defect” were provided for by G-d by allowing them to partake in the food from the sacrifices and fellowship with priests who were able to exercise their official duties. In this way, those with an imperfection were not ostracized and did not have to bear an intolerable burden.
The demand for perfection when approaching the L-rd or His holy place extended to the animals used for sacrifices and offerings. No matter the offering, the animal had to be without blemish of any kind. The only exception was an animal brought as a free-will offering. An animal with uneven leg lengths for example, could be offered as a voluntary offering, but not where a vow was made. It would not be accepted. Today, just as in the history of Israel, we are not to offer less than our best in any context to G-d. our first fruits including food, money, our service, or anything else we intend to give to G-d or in His Name must be given with a heart that is humble, full of love and a respectful fear.
After the Babylonian captivity, the people were asked if they wanted to offer their blind and sick animals as gifts to the civil authorities (Mal. 1:8). Malachi criticized the priests for offering blemished sacrifices to G-d, even though they knew such sacrifices were not accepted by G-d. These animals were flawed to the point that no one else wanted them for offerings (Mal. 1:8). The priests and the people were bitter at this point, having been defeated by foreign nations and were suffering economically. Rather than backing up a bit and examining their disrespect for G-d and His commands, they blamed G-d for their mistakes. They completely missed the point that it was their own disobedience that was the source of their hardships, yet they demanded that G-d favor them simultaneously. We can easily witness similar behaviors today in our own society. America is in the process of removing everything related to G-d including those who continue to teach the truth of G-d’s Word, yet many still pledge allegiance to the flag rather than G-d, and repeat the words “one nation under G-d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The truth of the matter is that America is not united, has been split apart politically and ethically; there is no longer liberty or justice for all. I find it very difficult to comprehend how many people can say the pledge of allegiance with any confidence. I submit some who do are patriots who are lamenting the past state of the union in their hearts, while others are just saying the pledge to “fit in” and avoid any ostracization.
Of even greater significance concerning blemished sacrifices, was the type misrepresentation. The theme of perfection was never to be eliminated or manipulated; necessary to maintain the need for perfection that alluded to the future sacrifice of the perfect, unblemished Lamb of G-d who is the only One who can forgive sin. Many people today believe that since man was given the “New” (Refreshed, renewed Covenant), that the Old Testament can be tossed aside. This is ludicrous. One would not throw away the original Constitution of the United States and just keep amendments. How would one know to what the amendments were made? Similarly, one would not throw out the first half of a phone book (when phonebooks still existed!). Would you disregard the foundation of your home and start construction with additions? I hope you can see my point.
The sacrificial system enables us to understand the relationship between perfect, innocent animals that were put to death and the unblemished total sacrifice of Yahshua, our Messiah. They remind us never to take a liberal approach to the study of G-d or his commands, which discounts His atoning work through Yahshua’s sacrifice. There is an inextricable connection between the sacrificial system of G-d’s Law and Yahshua’s sacrifice.
Now I am going to address the concept of “inclusion” G-d’s way. G-d not only makes salvation available to anyone who repents and follows G-d’s instructions, but He offered opportunity for foreigners and strangers to offer sacrifices to G-d. According to G-d’s Torah and Louis Goldberg’s book “Bible Study Commentary Leviticus,
“One purpose of G-d’s Law as to attract pagans and provide a way for them to become part of the Commonwealth of Israel. When foreigners observed, understood, and accepted the implications of the Law in its moral setting and with its emphasis on salvation and dedication to the one and true G-d, they were allowed to join themselves to the people of Israel and then had fill rights as Israelites. If a stranger desired to live among Israel and offer sacrifices, the Law gave him permission to do so (vv.18-19), but he had to proceed in the prescribed manner of the Word (v. 25) (p.114).”
Comparing to the events of our day in America, we can easily see where the leadership has taken a turn further away from G-d’s provision of His Torah/instructions and His standards for anyone who wants to become part of G-d’s holy people. Those who live a life contradictory to G-d’s Law must change their behavior, bring it in line with G-d’s standards, and live by the same “house rules of the Father.” Spiritual blemishes must be healed” through reconciliation to G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice which by default means repentance, and a choice to lovingly learn and follow the Law of G-d which is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We are even specifically warned not to add to or subtract from G-d’s Torah lest we suffer some of the things we are already witnessing. Revelation 22:18-19 reads “I warn everyone hearing the words of the prophecy in this book that if anyone adds to them, G-d will add to him the plagues written in this book. And if anyone takes anything away from the words in the book of this prophecy, G-d will take away his share in the Tree of Life and the holy city, as described in this book.”
I beseech everyone who reads this message or hears it on my podcast to reflect on their lives and consider the depth in meaning of this scripture. Adding to or subtracting from has many applications. For example, Orthodox Jews have added many traditions that have evolved into laws that are not written in G-d’s Torah. Christians have mistranslated and deliberately changed the Word of G-d in the original Hebrew and Aramaic to fit the agenda of the Catholic Church who is Edom, subscribes to and teaches antinomian concepts rather than G-d’s instructions. One example is changing the biblical Sabbath to Sunday with no authority to do so. Even more, they maintain that man can absolve sin and Mary is a divinity in her own right who is worshipped as the “mother of G-d.
I strongly urge the reader to research these issues for confirmation and validation. If there are any questions concerning these truths, please go to our website at and post questions under “ask the rabbi” link. I am not using hate speech and I am not “bashing” Christians or Catholics. I am simply a messenger; a teacher of G-d’s Word and I cannot diverge from the Truth.
I also recommend researching the second major topic of the parashah that describes G-d’s commands for his designated holy days which includes weekly Shabbat. It’s inclusion as the first of the commanded designated holy days should catalyze a spark of renewed interest and consideration for its importance. Observance of the biblical Shabbat is a great place to start for those who have never observed it, and for those who know that its observance is commanded, but have chosen to ignore or change the day to Sunday or any other day of the week.
Haftarah: Ezekiel 44:15-31
This week’s haftarah discusses various laws that pertain to the kohanim, the priests, a topic also discussed at length in the first part of the week’s Torah portion.
Ezekiel prophesies about the service of the kohanim in the third Holy Temple. The prophet describes their priestly vestments their personal care, whom they may and may not marry, and their special purity requirements which preclude them from coming in contact with a corpse, unless it’s for a next of kin. He also discusses their calling as teachers and spiritual leaders.
The prophet conveys G d’s word: “You shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession.” The kohanim do not receive a portion in the Land of Israel, instead they partake of the sacrifices as well as various tithes. This is one of the proof texts for sacrifices in the Millennial Kingdom. At this time there will be those who survived the Tribulation but have not accepted Yahshua as the Messiah. This is a “last chance” to realize there is an eternity, there is a Messiah and King, and there are rules we will have to follow if we hope to obtain salvation.
B’rit Chadashah: Matthew 5:38-42
Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21 that refers to “an eye for an eye” shows us that G-d was not commanding revenge. Rather, He was setting up limits and controls on it. Retribution and punishment must fit the crime and the crime had to be definitive. There is a citation in the Mishna that is quite lengthy and shows the rabbinic perspectives concerning legal damages that go well beyond the basic lex talionis which is Latin for “retaliation.’
Verse 41 addressed the Roman concept that allowed them to use the conquered people to do their work for them. Yahshua provides a specific example that has application for today in the context of “going the extra mile.” Simply, if someone asks us to do something for them, we should consider how we may go above and beyond their request for G-d’s glory. We should exercise our response with love and not an attitude of ‘I’ll show you…” 😊
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart