Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Emor
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicatedin the memory of

Asher Ben Haim

Parashat Emor



Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Parshat Emor discusses the concept of mo'ed. Usually translated as "festival," mo'ed actually means both "time" and "place." That is, Jewish holidays are the time and place we "get together" with God, to relive history, to celebrate, to lament, to recharge our spiritual identities.

The opening pasuk in this section reads: "Hashem's mo'adim that you designate and proclaim as holy assemblies - these are My mo'adim." Rav S.R. Hirsch asks: Why does the verse repeat the fact that these mo'adim? Why not simply say: "These are the Festivals of the year," and then list them? He answers that Jewish holidays are never unilaterally imposed upon us. True, Hashem ordains these days and imbues them with holiness. But they only become real when WE become God's partner and declare them holy, when WE celebrate their particular mitzvot and minhagim. Neither God nor the Jewish People alone can create a Chag! So the pasuk quotes God as saying: "These are holy days, as far as I am concerned. And if you - Israel - will also proclaim them as such, then they will really become Festivals.

If this is true of the Chagim, it is also true of Eretz Yisrael. The Land is here eternally; it's not going anywhere. But it waits for US to come and inhabit it, work it, transform it, sanctify it. So, too, Yerushalayim shel Ma'ala is already built, just waiting until we do what it takes to "bring it down" to Yerushalayim shel Mata. Without our participation, nothing happens.

For the Jewish People - who faithfully waited 2000 years for the opportunity to reclaim Israel and usher in a new Golden Age of Judaism - this is both the time AND the place to fulfill our Divine Destiny.

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