May 18, 2024
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May 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

 Many of the mitzvot listed in the beginning of Parashat Emor are exclusive to Kohanim. I was always irritated by this parsha because I am neither a Kohen nor a Bat (daughter of a) Kohen. Ultimately, the Torah is meant to instruct everyone, not only Jews! I’ve wondered why I need to learn this portion of the Torah, what it has to do with me, and what I’m supposed to do with these mitzvot. I concluded it’s not just addressing the Kohanim.

While the privilege of being a Kohen is passed down from generation to generation, the spiritual job can be done by all. A Kohen’s job is to help bring people closer to Hashem. They are unique and the kind of people who act right away to support Hashem. Part of the job of the Kohen is also to give קָרְבָּנוֹת (korbanot/-sacrifices), and while we can’t give korbanot like they can, we can bring people קָרוֹב (close) to Hashem like a korban does. (They have the same root word of ק.ר.ב.)

As Jews and as people, it is our responsibility to support one another. Every one of us must be able to support someone else in overcoming their imperfections. We are all fallible. Everyone needs to assist others in improving. Hashem is telling us that we as individuals need to improve on our shortcomings and that a Kohen cannot give a blemished korban. How are we going to do that? We need to work on our own blemishes. In any case, it is our collective responsibility to emulate the Kohen and do everything in our power to draw both others and ourselves closer to Hashem. These mitzvot of a Kohen may not be for us physically, but they are  for us spiritually. May we all become spiritual leaders of Bnei Yisrael and help each other become our best selves.


Shira Sedek is a passionate educator currently working toward a master’s degree at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

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