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Emor 5775

Emor (Leviticus 21-24 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  According to Jewish cosmology, the day begins with nightfall. That is why all holidays start at night after the stars can be seen. Wednesday night, May 6th, begins the holiday of Lag B'Omer. You may have seen advertisements for picnics from synagogues and JCC's.

Lag B'Omer is the 33rd day of the Omer, the period between Pesach and Shavuot. On this day the plague which was killing Rabbi Akiva's disciples stopped. It is also the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, the Kabbalah, the book of Jewish Mysticism. Tradition has it that the day of his demise was filled with a great light of endless joy through the secret wisdom which he revealed to his students in the Zohar.

In Israel there are huge bonfires across the country. From Pesach onwards the children gather fallen branches and old tires and build pyres often 20 and 30 feet high. Then as the sky grows dark, they are lit and the sky is filled with flames -- and smoke. (I have often wondered what the reaction is to the pictures from the US and Russian Spy satellites.)

The fires are symbolic both of the light of wisdom Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai brought into the world and as a "yahrzeit candle" to the memory of his passing. Haircuts and weddings take place on this date and there is much festivity including dancing, singing and music.

Why the name Lag B'Omer? Every Hebrew letter has a numerical value. An aleph = 1, a bet = 2 and so forth. The two Hebrew letters lamed (30) and gimmel (3) = 33. So Lag B'Omer means the 33rd day of the Omer. [The word "Omer" literally means "sheaf" and refers to the offering of the barley sheaf in the Temple on the second day of Pesach marking the harvesting of the barley crop. From that day until Shavuot (the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the Festival of the Harvest) is called the period of the Counting of the Omer. It is a time for reflection upon how we view and treat our fellow Jews and what we can learn from the tragedies that have befallen us because of unfounded hatred for our fellow Jews.

For more on Lag B'Omer, I direct you to as well as for articles including -- Kabbalah and Lag B'Omer, The Mystery of Lag B'Omer, Whispering Flames: The Fire of Lag B'Omer, Lag B'Omer: Remembering Rabbi Shimon.

* * *


Three Rules For Success

  1. Initiative -- You have to try.
  2. Perseverance -- You have to keep trying.
  3. The Almighty smiles upon your efforts.

My father likes to quip that "The harder you work, the luckier you get." Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. Our Torah teaches that telling yourself "I can't" is a big mistake. If the Almighty would help you, would you be able to do it? He is there and will help. Remember: One person and the Almighty make a majority.

Telling yourself "I don't feel like doing it" is another big mistake. One should do what his soul wants (accomplishment, meaning) and not what his body desires (comfort). Don't confuse body messages for messages of the soul! And if the decision and the effort needed for success are too painful, here are:


Seven Excuses for Giving Up
  1. We've never done it that way.
  2. We're not ready for that, yet.
  3. We're doing all right without it.
  4. We tried it once and it didn't
    work out.
  1. It costs too much.
  2. That's not our responsibility.
  3. It won't work.


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Torah Portion of the week

Emor, Leviticus 21:1 - 24:24

This week's portion sets forth the standards of purity and perfection for a Cohen; specifies the physical requirements of sacrifices and what is to be done with blemished offerings; proclaims as holidays the Shabbat, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

It reminds the Jewish people to provide pure olive oil for the Menorah and designates the details of the Showbread (two stacks of 6 loaves each which were placed on the table in the portable sanctuary and later in the Temple once a week upon Shabbat).

The portion ends with the interesting story of a man who blasphemed God's name with a curse. What should be the penalty for this transgression? Curious? Leviticus. 24:14.

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Dvar Torah
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states:

"You shall sanctify him (the Kohen), for he presents the food offering of your God; he shall remain holy to you, for holy am I, God, Who sanctifies you" (Lev. 21:8).

Whenever the Torah refers to the sanctity of the Kohen, it says, "For I am God Who makes him holy" (Lev. 21:16, 22:9, 22:16). The exception is in the above verse which dictates that we revere the Kohen for his holiness -- and closes with, "For holy am I, God, Who sanctifies you." Inasmuch as it speaks about the sanctity of the Kohen, it would appear to be more appropriate to say, "Who sanctifies him as it does elsewhere.

The Torah is providing us with a guideline to help avoid a serious error. We must be very careful how we relate to our spiritual leaders. Each of us is vulnerable to bias that may distort our judgment. A teacher or spiritual guide not only provides information, but an objective perspective and a role model.

The Kohen should be respected and revered because God has sanctified him. However, our self-worth does not emanate from the Kohen. It comes from God -- "for holy am I, God, Who sanctifies you."

We have great personal worth independent of the Kohen, because God has sanctified us and has instilled a neshama (soul), a part of His essence, within us.


Candle Lighting Times

May 8
(or go to

Jerusalem 6:48
Guatemala 6:03 - Hong Kong 6:34 - Honolulu 6:41
J'Burg 5:14 - London 8:15 - Los Angeles 7:19
Melbourne 5:08 - Mexico City 7:43 - Miami 7:34
New York 7:34 - Singapore 6:48 - Toronto 8:02

Quote of the Week

I have missed over 9,000 shots in my career.
I've lost almost 300 games.
26 times the ball was given to me
in the last moments of the game to make
the game winning shot and I missed.
I have failed and failed and failed ...
and because of that -- I have succeeded.
  -- Michael Jordan



In Loving Memory of

Stephan Igra
Chaim Leib ben Yitzchak


In Loving Memory of

Roslyn Kurlansky

her childern


In Loving Memory of
my wife,


Marty Patrick




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