Thoughts and Teachings: Haftarah for Emor


For those of you in the Diaspora, you probably have noticed that the weekly readings here are different from your schedule. That is because of the extra day, with its readings, that occurs in the Diaspora during Pesach/Unleavened Bread. Do not worry, everything will be back in sync – eventually; with Devarim on Tish’a B’Av (August 13th).

This week’s Torah portion, Emor, Leviticus 21.1 through 24.23, continues with the holiness code, beginning specifically with the kohanim as the LORD told Moshe, “They are to be holy to their God, and not profane the Name of their God, for they present the offerings of ADONAI made by fire, the bread of their God. Therefore, they are to be holy.” (Leviticus 21.6) Potentially, at this point in time, any of the sons of Aaron, (one part of the tribe of Levi), could serve as priests in the Tabernacle and eventually the Temple.

This week’s Haftarah, narrows who could serve as a kohen to a specific family, “…the Levitical kohanim, the sons of Zadok who kept charge of My Sanctuary when Bnei-Yisrael wandered from Me…” (Ezekiel 44.15) Then in the Apostolic Writings, we read that the position of the Kohen HaGadol, the High Priest, has been invested to one individual, Yeshua our Messiah.

Therefore, since we have a great Kohen Gadol who has passed through the heavens, Yeshua Ben-Elohim, let us hold firmly to our confessed allegiance. For we do not have a kohen gadol who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all the same ways—yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near to the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help in time of need. (Hebrews 4.14-16)

Finally, in the Apostolic Writings, Shimon, writing to his community, acknowledges that in Yeshua the priesthood has broadened to include all who are part of Messiah’s body; “…you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house—a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yeshua” (1 Peter 2.5). However, this priesthood, as encompassed by all believers, is expected to maintain a level of holiness as Shimon affirmed, “just like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in everything you do. For it is written, ‘Kedoshim you shall be, for I am kadosh.’” (1 Peter 1.15-16)

From the beginning the people of the LORD are expected to be kadosh, holy. But why? Was it just to placate the egotistical desires of the Israelite deity? One could possibly look at it that way. But a better perspective is to realize that Israel was called out to be ‘am segulah,’ a special people, (Re’eh, Deuteronomy 14.1-2). Additionally, the giving of the covenant at Sinai is Israel’s ketubah, her marriage contract from Adonai Tza’vot. As His bride, His special, select people, Israel has the responsibility to behave in holiness, as He who called her is holy. As believers, those who have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6.20), we too have the responsibility to emulate our new Master and Lord as opposed to the old master that we followed in ignorance (1 Peter 1.13-14). As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so we should reflect the kadosh, the very glory of our LORD.

Shabbat Shalom

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Michael Hillel with his wife Vered and their three children, made aliyah from the US in late 80s, and in biblical fashion has, for the last 27 years, done whatever his hands have found to do. In 2013 Michael began working on a MA degree in Messianic Jewish Theology. Using the tools learned from his studies, he has been writing teaching and devotional materials from both the Tanakh and Apostolic Writings. Since Messianic Judaism shares a communal context with both Judaism and Christianity, he incorporates material from both traditionally Jewish and Christian perspectives.