Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Emor - 5776

My friends,

This week's Parasha continues to describe the responsibilities of the Kohanim, the priests who serve in the Temple.

One of the recurring commandments for the Kohanim is to be Kedoshim, holy. Because they serve in a sacred place, the temple, and they bring in sacred offerings, they must behave in a most sacred way.

This Parasha also lists the sacred times, those that have been designated as days of Keushah, holiness: Shabbat and festivals.

There is a principle in Judaism called Kiddush Hashem, Sanctifying G-d's name. The Kohen represented religion before the people. He was commanded to serve the people in an honest way, never taking bribes, or showing favoritism to one group or the other. It is an important Mitzvah. As Jews, we are commanded to be willing to do everything in our power to spread Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying G-d's name in the world. We speak of the martyrs of Israel of the past and into the present who died for Kiddush Hashem. Thank G-d that most of us, hopefully, will never be asked to commit the ultimate act of Kiddush Hashem by dying for a cause.

Maimonides explains that thru our actions in everyday life situations, we can cause Kiddush Hashem or, G-d forbid, Hillul Hashem, desecrating G-d's name. When we behave in a way that reflects kindness, honesty and generosity, we add to Kiddush Hashem. The fanatics who blow themselves up and kill others in the process as well are not dying for G-d. They are desecrating the name of G-d by causing the death of innocent human beings.

Be positive! Do a Mitzvah that would add to Kiddush Hashem in the world.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram