Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Emor - 5773

My friends,

This week's Parasha, Emor (meaning 'say'), contains instructions to the Koahnim, the priests, who will be serving in the Tabernacle or the Temple once it is built in Jerusalem. They are told that they are holy because they serve in the Holy Temple, eat from the holy offerings and wear the special clothes. They are, therefore, instructed to behave in a way that will be appropriate for such positions. The restrictions include who they may marry and how they may not tend to the dead except for immediate family members. They may not shave their heads and beards like the customs of the priests who served in pagan temples. That is the first part of this week's portion.

The second part is directed to all the Israelites and it lists the Holy Days that they shall observe. Verse 2 in chapter 23 states, "Speak unto the children of Israel and say to them: These are the Holy Days of G-d, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are my Holy Days."

The Torah then lists six Holy Days:

  1. The Shabbat
  2. Pesach
  3. Shavuot
  4. Rosh Hashanah
  5. Yom KIppur
  6. Sukkot

The special restriction for each of these days is that no work may be performed, and that they are Mikrah Kodesh, a Holy Convocation.

The question is, if someone refrains from work on these days, is that sufficient to fulfill the Mitzvah of observing these special days?

I believe that such a person is only keeping the first half of these requirements by refraining from work. The second part is to be involved in a Holy Convocation, a Holy gathering. That part we fulfill by attending synagogue services and joining the community in celebrating these special days (hint..hint..hint..).

Make every effort to participate in Shabbat and Festival services. Let us celebrate G-d's special days together.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram