Speak to the kohanim, the sons of Aaron,” says G‑d to Moses in the Parshah of Emor, “and say to them . . .”

The kohanim (priests), who perform the service in the Holy Temple on behalf of the people, must adhere to a higher standard of sanctity. They must avoid all contact with a dead body except in the case of a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter, brother, or unmarried sister. A kohen is also forbidden to marry “a harlot or profaned woman; nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband.”

The high priest (kohen gadol) among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not allow the hair of his head to grow long, nor tear his clothes.

Nor shall he go into [a place where there is] a dead body, nor contaminate himself [even] for his father or for his mother.

Nor shall he go out of the Sanctuary . . . for the crown of the anointing oil of his G‑d is upon him.

The kohen gadol may not marry a widow either, for “he shall marry a woman in her virginity.”

A kohen with a physical deformity may not serve in the Holy Temple, nor may a deformed animal be brought as an offering.

Also commanded in Emor:

A bullock or sheep or goat that is born shall be seven days with its mother; from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire to G‑d.

Whether it be cow or ewe, you shall not kill both it and its young in one day.

Our Parshah also contains the precept “I shall be sanctified among the children of Israel,” which implies the duty to “sanctify the Name” by giving up one’s life, if necessary, rather than betray our covenant with G‑d.

Appointments in Time

Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: The appointed times of G‑d, which you shall proclaim as callings of holiness—these are My appointed times:

Six days shall work be done. But the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a calling of holiness; you shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to G‑d in all your dwellings . . .

On the fourteenth day of the first month towards evening is G‑d’s Passover. On the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Matzot to G‑d: seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.

The first and seventh days of the “Festival of Matzot” are days of rest, on which no work is done.

On the second day of Passover, an omer (a biblical measure, the equivalent of approximately 3 pounds) of barley from the very first grain harvest of the year is to be brought as an offering in the Holy Temple. It is forbidden to eat from the year’s harvest until the Omer offering is brought. From that day begins the countdown to the festival of Shavuot, when an offering of “two breads” prepared from wheat are offered:

You shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the Shabbat, from the day on which you bring the Omer offering, seven complete weeks they shall be; until the morrow of the seventh week, you shall count fifty days. . . . And you shall proclaim that very day a holy festival.

More Appointments

The first of the seventh month (Tishrei) is a day of remembrance and blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn). The tenth day of that month

shall be a day of atonement; it shall be a calling of holiness to you. You shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to G‑d. You shall do no work on that very same day, for it is a day of atonement (yom kippurim), to make atonement for you before G‑d.

On the fifteenth of Tishrei begins the seven-day Sukkot festival, followed by an eighth day of festivities (Shemini Atzeret):

The first day shall be a day of rest, and on the eighth day shall be a day of rest.

You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of the hadar tree, branches of palm trees, the boughs of thick-leaved trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the L‑rd your G‑d seven days . . .

You shall dwell in huts seven days . . . so that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in huts when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am the L‑rd your G‑d.

Moses declared to the children of Israel the appointed seasons of G‑d.

The Blasphemer

The son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel. This son of an Israelite woman fought in the camp with a man of Israel.

The Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the name of G‑d and cursed; they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomit, the daughter of Divri, of the tribe of Dan. They put him in custody, for [his penalty] to be specified by the mouth of G‑d.

G‑d spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring forth outside the camp the one who has cursed . . . and all the congregation shall stone him.”

On that occasion, G‑d also commands that one who murders a fellow man shall meet with the death penalty. One who injures a fellow, or kills an animal, must make monetary restitution.