Emor, is the largest Parsha in the book of Vayikra (Leviticus), consisting of no fewer than 124 verses. The Parshah actually starts off relating many of the laws within regards to the Kohanim (Priests) (Vayikra 21:1/9). It mentions how a Kohen should not come in contact with a dead body and how a Kohen is only allowed to attend a funeral of a close relative (father, mother, brother, son, daughter and unmarried sister) (Moed Katan 20b).
A Kohen is seen as being on a higher spiritual plateau than an ordinary Jew and is considered more Holy, whereas the Kohen Gadol is viewed as the holy of holies.
The Parshah then talks about the marriages forbidden to a Kohen; relating that a Kohen is not allowed to marry a woman who had forbidden relations with a non Jew before marriage, a convert, a divorcee and is not allowed to marry a daughter of a Kohen of a union that was forbidden (Makkot 13a).
The Parshah then relates how one must honour a Kohen, for example; a Kohen should be served first at a banquet, he should wash his hands first before a meal and be called to the Torah up first, before a Levi and Yisrael.
A Kohen must possess five qualifications to serve as the Koehn Gadol (Vayikra Rabba 26:8), including; he should possess wisdom, have a handsome appearance, physical strength (In parshat Baha'alotacha we saw that the Kohen Gadol, Aaron possessed huge strength in lifting up 22000 people in one day (Vayikra Rabba 26:9)), a Kohen Gadol should be wealthy and be of good age.
After, the parshah discusses the factors disqualifying a Kohen from performing the service (Vayikra 21:16/24), the Torah relates information and Laws on ‘Teruma.’ Teruma is between 1/40th and 1/60th of crop that a farmer leaves and designates it to a Kohen as ‘Teruma.’ A Kohen can eat this Teruma with his family; however others are not allowed to partake in it (Vayikra 22:10/16).
We then learn about the conditions required of an animal to be fit as a sacrifice, including that it must be physically perfect, an animal is acceptable only from the eighth day after birth onwards and just as a human infant has to live through a Shabbat in order to be circumcised an animal must wait for the eighth day to have absorbed the holiness of one Shabbat!
The Torah then relates the prohibition against slaughtering a mother animal and a Young on the same day, which shows Hashem's mercy (Vayikra 22:28). The wicked people however throughout history have tried to destroy two generations in the same day.
The Torah then discusses the prohibition against desecrating the divine name and relates the mitzvah of sanctifying Hashem's name. A Jew should give up his life if asked to desecrate one of the three cardinal sins (bloodshed, immorality and idol worship). We learn in the book of Daniel, that Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian King, ordered three Jews, Chananya, Mishael and Azarya to bow to his image, they refused and in turn the King threw them in to a Fiery Furnace and they came out of it alive and unscathed due to Hashem performing a miracle as they sanctified Hashem’s name (Pesachim 53b/ Daniel 3:1/30).
Next up, the Parshah then discusses the festivals. Firstly relating the importance of Shabbat. The three pilgrimage festivals, Pesach, Succot and Shavuot. The Torah discusses the counting of the Omer and the Omer sacrifice. The Parshah then relates about Rosh Hashana (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). We also learn about four species which we use during Succot; Lulav, Etrog, Aravos (willows) and Hadassim (Myrtle leaves). The laws on these festivals are featured in Chapter 23 of the book of Vayikra.
The Parshah then goes on to relate information about the menorah lighting (Vayikra 24:1/4) and the show breads in the Tabernacle, how the loaves miraculously stayed fresh for over a week .
The Parshah concludes relating a story about how a son born from a relationship between a Jewish woman, Shlomit Bat Divrie, and an Egyptian man, cursed Hashem’s name (Vayikra 24:11) and caused trouble as he tried to stay encamped with the tribe of Dan, when he was meant to be dwelling in the outskirts of the camps as the Camp encampment went by what tribe their father was from. He cursed Hashem and in retribution, after Moshe spoke to G-d, it was commanded that the Egyptian man should be stoned to death as he caused a complete desecration of G-d's name (Succah 53a).
The Haftorah for Parshat Emor is from Chapter 44 in the book of Ezekiel, relating the laws that will apply to Kohanim in Messianic times.
I would like to dedicate this Dvar Torah in the memory of Esther Bat Yechezkel, please do many good deeds in her memory!