BLESSINGS AND MUSIC – Naso– Num.4:21–7 – by Rabbi Baruch Cohon

BLESSINGS AND MUSIC – Naso– Num.4:21–7 – by Rabbi Baruch Cohon

         Of all the topics discussed in this reading, one that comes near the end is easily the most familiar, and perhaps most important for our generation.  It is identified as the Priestly Benediction, pronounced by Aaron’s sons in the ancient Temple, and    by their descendants in traditional synagogues ever since.  In many liberal congregations, the rabbi replaces the cohanim for the blessing.

         It consists of 3 brief Hebrew sentences.  Quite familiar, and often quoted – by Jews and non-Jews – at solemn ceremonies and at weddings and even at the inauguration of a president of the United States. 

        The first sentence, just 3 words long, vouchsafes physical safety.  It drops to us as if from on High, like a gentle rain, as we are blessed with Divine protection.  “May G-d bless you and guard you.”

          The second one, in 5 words, lifts us to a level where Divine light can shine straight into our lives, where G-d will be kind to us as we can be kind to our friends, our equals.   It inspires spiritual awareness: “May G-d’s presence shine on you and be favorable.” 

            And the third one’s 7 words promise peace.  Says the great commentator the Klee Yokor —  shocked at his own Chutzpeh – this lifts us to an even higher level. As if G-d was lifting His face toward us from below and establishing peace for us.  “May G-d’s presence rise into your life and bring you peace.” That wonderful line asks for much more than the absence of armed conflict.  It is addressed to each individual.  It asks for peace of mind, and peace of spirit.

           Verse 27 ties up the experience of the Priestly Benediction.  “They (the Cohanim) shall put My name on the people of Israel,” says G-d, “and I will bless them.”  The priest is reminded that he is a vessel, not the source.

            A special occasion for this blessing occurs at the Western Wall on the third day of Passover.  One year in Jerusalem my sons and I participated in this mass blessing.  And it is a mass blessing, being a partial reenactment of the ancient pilgrimage that took place on festivals – Passover, Shavuos, Succos, when people travelled to Jerusalem from all parts of the country. The day I was there, I would estimate 100,000 Jews at the Wall.  Cohanim lined the Wall, three rows deep, facing the crowd.  My sons and I were among the later arrivals, so we were in the front row of Cohanim.  Somewhere further down the Wall the cantor for the day  — the only one with a microphone – began to cue us.

             Now you must remember that the cantor always gives the cue for each word.  This facilitates the Cohanim staying together as they chant, of course.  But there is a religious reason too.  By saying the words tothe Cohanim, the cantor in effect invokes G-d’s blessing on them first, and they then proceed to communicate that blessing to the people.  As the commentators explain, you can’t pour anything out of an empty pitcher.

               From under the tallis (prayer shawl) that I held in front of my face as all the Cohanim did for the blessing, I could see the first row of people packed in front of me – from the waist down.  The only face I could see was a little boy about 4 years old.  Wide-eyed with wonder, he took in the scene.  As we began to chant the blessing, his father’s hand came around and covered the little boy ‘s eyes.  Mustn’t look.  In fact it is a universal Jewish custom not to look at the Cohanim during the blessing – even though their faces are covered by the tallis.  Some people even turn their backs so they won’t be tempted to look.  Why? Because the Cohen does not bless. The benediction is only his to deliver. G-d is the  Source.

          The Priestly Benediction, whether pronounced by descendants of Aaron or by clergymen, calls for an accepting answer from those being blessed.  And in synagogue practice it also includes music.   

         Rockdale Avenue Temple in Cincinnati was a model of Classical Reform as I remember it in the ‘30’s.  Among the minimal uses of Hebrew in its festival services came the Priestly Benediction, recited by the rabbi in stentorian tones (remember this was before the days of most microphones.)  After he said the first line, we heard the four church singers in the choir loft in perfect harmony: “The Lord bless thee and keep thee.” Each line got a corresponding answer. Three lines.  Three angelic-sounding musical responses delivered in a classical major cadence.  A spell was cast.

         At the other pole of observance, at the Chabad synagogue where, along with other cohanim, I now take part in the blessing on festival mornings, the prayer leader gave us a melody to introduce each word, excepting only the Divine Name.  Two trademark Chabad melodies alternate, and the cohanim all have to know what phrases to repeat.  At the end of each line, some 150 voices in the congregation chant “Amen” – in some 150 keys—with spirit.    When we conclude the blessing, congregants shake our hands to show their appreciation.  

         Between these two poles we find musical expressions ranging from medium to minimal to missing.  Many synagogues have the cohanim sing a melody just before the last word of each line.  Others have the cohanim do a plain repetition of the cantor’s chant on each word, and the congregation responds with the words Ken y’hee ratzon – “May it be G-d’s will.”  All traditional synagogues, and any liberal ones who follow the custom, have the cohanim repeat each word that the cantor chants, symbolizing the idea that they are not the source of the blessing.  They are the conduit.  Musically, physically and conceptually, we ask Divine blessing on each other.  And by our positive answer we express the confidence that we will succeed.

         The process of cohanim blessing the congregation is called dukhenen, from the word dukhan which means the low platform where the priests stand.Experience it, next chance you get.  And join in singing the response.  Hear the music.  Feel the echo.

 

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COUNTING IN THE DESERT – Bamidbor – Numbers 1-4:20, by Rabbi Baruch Cohon

 

COUNTING IN THE DESERT – Bamidbor – Numbers 1-4:20, by Rabbi Baruch Cohon
​This week’s reading gives its name to the entire book which it opens. But the English name seems to bear no relationship to the Hebrew name of the same book. “Numbers” is not a translation of “Bamidbor,” which means “In the desert.” Actually, the Hebrew name sets the scene for the whole history described in this book, which follows the ancient Hebrew tribes through the desert, in their slow and perilous progress toward the Promised Land. The English name is appropriate to this week’s reading, however, since here we see the completion of the census Moses conducted just a couple of months earlier when the Tabernacle – the mishkan – was built. Then, every male Israelite of military age had to bring a contribution of half a shekel toward the construction of the first Jewish house of worship. By counting the coins, the people’s leaders knew the total number of potential fighters: 603,550.
​“603,550…and counting.”
​Doubtful that Moses ever said that, but he might have. That’s what opens this book of the Torah – a census. Counting is a serious process, and nowhere more serious than among Jews. We treat it with great respect. Reluctance, in fact. Traditionally we avoid counting people. The good Yiddishe Mama would tick off her children saying “not one, not two, not three…” because only G-d should count us, and the Malakhamoves (angel of death) just waits for some careless human to usurp that prerogative.
​In the super-observant section of Jerusalem called Meyah Sh’arim (100 Gates) we are told that it is considered a sacred duty to oppose and thwart the Israeli Government Census. Census takers are seen as violating Divine law.
​And yet, as countless Jewish accountants can testify, we are heavily into counting other things – assets, liabilities, even time. In fact, when we count time we do it as a religious rite. The seven weeks between Passover and Shavuos are counted ceremonially, day by day.
​Why? Why, now when we are deluged with printed calendars, should we still consider it a Mitzvah to count time? And why is it a Mitzvah not to count people?
​“Teach us to number our days,” says a Psalm of David, “so we will acquire a heart of wisdom.” Nowhere does he say “teach us to count each other.” This despite the fact that King David himself conducted an unauthorized census that cost him dearly.
​Are the numbers themselves important? How many Jews left Egypt? Various schools of interpretation come up with different versions of the Biblical figures. The accepted total of fighting men ranges from 5,500 to over 600,000 depending on whose analysis you follow. And the total Hebrew population in the desert? Anywhere from 20,000 to 2 million. If in fact 2 million Jews left Egypt plus the “mixed multitude” that followed them, there is a plausible theory that the wanderings of such a huge population spread beyond the Sinai peninsula into the whole Arabian subcontinent. Intriguing idea, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why so many Arabs look like Jews? In Spain maybe they didn’t expel the Hebrews quite soon enough…the Semitic features survive on some Spanish faces too.
​Those are the uncounted. What about the ones who are counted? And what about the counting we still do, despite the taboos? This section reminds us that Moses took his census in the desert. G-d spoke to him, and through him to the entire Israelite people in the desert. Facing danger on every side, our ancestors received the Torah, and built the Mishkan — the portable sanctuary that would serve as their spiritual center for 40 grim years – in the desert. There Moses counted them. There they made their lives count. There they became a nation.
​Some deserts bloom today because the descendants of that nation make them blossom. And some of those descendants face challenges today that equal those of Moses’ time. In a way we’re all in the desert. Like the nation that marched into Sinai, we need to learn the Torah’s message – and earn that message – to implement it in our lives. It can strengthen us to achieve victory over enemy violence and self-defeating doubt. We can do it. And in that action we can make our lives count. So, counting people is important, after all.
​Equally important, if not more so, is counting time. When you count time, though, aren’t you in fact measuring your own life? “Today is the umpteenth day of the Omer.” That’s not all. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The truth is, no one else can count that day for you.
​In a very real sense, no one else can count you either. Not even Moses. There he was, numbering the Israelites in the desert. Could it be that Moses, to whom the whole past and future Torah was revealed, didn’t know the profound teaching yet to become a cliché: “One who saves a single life of these is considered as saving a whole world, and one who destroys a single life of these is considered as destroying a whole world”? Each life has infinite value. Once you have counted infinity, how can you add to it?
​Perhaps that’s the answer to the riddle of Jewish counting. Numbering our days is positive because it reminds us that life is limited. Count your days, to make your days count. And counting people is negative because it’s like a vaudeville performer counting the house. The quality of his act will be in direct ratio to the size of his audience. Real quality performers don’t work that way. As people who sang in my choirs can testify, I always told them: “Never mind the empty seats. Sing for the people who are here.”
​The individual facing you – friend, stranger, relative or adversary – is at this moment the infinity matching your infinity. That individual counts. You count. And this day counts because it, like you, is irreplaceable.
​In the desert or the suburbs, at sea or on land, today or tomorrow, to build a better future, count me in.

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DESTINY OR DEBATE –Behukosai– Lev. 26:3-27:34– by Rabbi Baruch Cohon   

DESTINY OR DEBATE –BehukosaiLev. 26:3-27:34– by Rabbi Baruch Cohon   

         This reading, Behukosai – “In My Statutes” – details the results to be expected from following Torah principles.  And from violating them.  Make those principles our guide, we will read, and we can relish the joys of peace and prosperity.  We will even read about future victories, that if we must go to war “five of you will chase a hundred enemies, and a hundred of you will chase a thousand.  Your enemies will fall before you.”  Speaking in G-d’s name, the Torah predicts: “I will walk among you, and you will be my people.”

         But then we will also read about the reverse effects. If we forget about our mutual concern, despise the Mitzvos, exploit the land and each other?  Then “I will let your cities be ruined, and your holy places destroyed…”   This full list of curses, called the tokhakha, goes on and on – and is a mere preview of the list in Deuteronomy.  Both lists hardly anticipate our history.

         Considered from the vantage point of the 20thand 21stcenturies, we can draw a distinct parallel.     

          The Six Day War of 1967 brought a miracle to Israel and to World Jewry.  We thought that the miracle was military victory. What it really was, was the spirit of national unity that made victory possible.  Secular kibbutzniks and religious yeshiva students joined forces to defeat their smug enemies.  But they all served under assorted leadership.   During the battle for Jerusalem, General Motta Gur radioed headquarters with a historic 3-word message: Har habayit b’yadeynu – “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”  And a single soldier climbed the Dome of the Rock and attached an Israeli flag, signaling Jewish return to the holy hilltop after 19 centuries.  But no less a hero than Moshe Dayan ordered it taken down.  By the following week, national unity began to dissolve.

         Over the succeeding decades, appeasement groups appeared within our communities both in Israel and worldwide, Jewish pressure on the left.  And we see opposing efforts on the right, supporting Israeli power.  Neither national unity nor Torah principles can prevail.  From the Middle East to the committees of the UN, enemies threaten the Jewish future. Do we have something to learn?  Definitely.

         In the very last chapter of Leviticus, we will review the laws about how each individual participates in the work of the Sanctuary, by contributing the value of his labor – his own, and that of other members of his family, including males, females, adults and children.  When the contribution of sacred work is made economically rather than physically, the value of an individual is stated in an amount of shekels, and a fifth of that amount is added.  The additional 20% covers the cost of hiring someone outside the citizen’s family to do the job.  Supporting the community as detailed here is not a matter of voluntary charity.  It is a sacred duty, one of the tithes that are every citizen’s responsibility. Biblical statutes built a nation. 

         Some ancient problems keep happening, don’t they? Solving those problems challenges us in our generation.  We must learn from the past.             

         This reading completes this year’s review of Leviticus – the book of priestly statutes.  Next comes the Book of Numbers, in Hebrew called Bamidbor – “In the desert.”  In many ways, that’s where we are.   We need to find our way out of this religious and historic desert where we find ourselves.   This reading offers us one strong guide:  Help each other; remember that we are one people.        

                              

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PROCLAIM LIBERTY – B’har – Lev.25:1—26:2, by Rabbi Baruch Cohon

PROCLAIM LIBERTY – B’har – Lev.25:1—26:2, by Rabbi Baruch Cohon

         By far the most famous words in this week’s Torah reading are the ones from Chapter 25 verse 10, which are engraved on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” Certainly an inspiring message for a newly independent nation!   Actually, in their original context, they do not mandate anything political at all. 

         As we read this section, we see a society that is first of all agricultural and secondly hereditary.  Once Joshua conquered the country, each family’s property was established, and was intended to remain that way permanently.  No family farm could be legally pulled away from its ancestral owners.  If one owner fell into debt for any reason, he could sell his crop to a wealthier tribesman, who would then operate his farm – but only until the next Jubilee year.  And the Jubilee comes every 50 years, so if the farm is “sold” in year 30, the sale is only good for 20 years.  So it is mandated in this reading.

         Similarly, if a poor Jew in ancient Israel sold himself into indentured servitude, his master had to release him when the Jubilee year rolled around.

         The Hertz commentary points out that these laws helped prevent the land and the people from becoming subservient to a privileged class.  Less debt means more equality.  The Torah does not state that, but it is worth considering.     

         In the previous section, we were instructed to count days.   7 days times 7 weeks for the time between Passover and Shavuot, which occurs on the 50thday.  Now we get a parallel instruction to count years.  Every 7thyear is a Sabbatical, a year off for the land – too bad the land cannot spend that year in Hawaii – but after 7 Sabbatical years comes the Jubilee, which means no planting and no reaping for two full years, the 49thand the 50th In this connection, the Torah promises a blessing on the 6thyear of that cycle – effectively year #48 – that will see the land producing enough to feed its owners for 3 years.  During the Jubilee year, says the Torah, you don’t need to work the land or bring in a harvest.  Just “eat from the field.”  Any field, whether it is legally yours or not.  Questions about this custom abound.  Did our ancestors really observe it?  After all, the limitation on transfer of property only applied to agricultural property.  A house in a walled city could be sold permanently.   In Israel today, shmitah produce – what grows during the Sabbatical years – is banned for religious people, and you see labels that declare “not made with Shmitah ingredients.”   Jubilee years present an even greater problem.  

         And now back to the Liberty Bell.  We are instructed to announce the Jubilee year on Yom Kippur by sounding the Shofar.  Why then? After all, the year started on Rosh Hashanah, 10 days earlier.  And what kind of liberty are we proclaiming?

         The sage Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel compared the Day of Atonement to the day Israel received the Torah.  Just as accepting the Torah could free the people from the Evil Urge and its punishments, so Yom Kippur is the day of freedom from that old foolish vengeful enemy king called Satan, who is the Evil Urge, and all this is to remind each of us to keep the Day of Freedom always before our eyes. 

         What is our kind of liberty?  No longer a year just to eat what we find because we must not grow crops.  It is, this year and every year, individually and collectively, the vision of freedom from evil.  And Yom Kippur will be the perfect day to proclaim it.  Let that T’kiah g’dolah at the end of next Yom Kippur remind us: every year can be our spiritual Jubilee.

           A little further along, in the classic translation of Chapter 25 verse 35 we read: “If your brother be waxen poor…” Waxen poor???  Like a bad face job?  No, that is the accepted Elizabethan English for the Hebrew word yamukh,which means a personal or economic downfall.   More about yamukh later.  What we can learn initially from this section is how to treat that brother. 

         First the Torah tells us that if this poor loser comes to you for help, you are to strengthen him.  If he is a native Jew, or a convert or, as Ibn Ezra includes, a resident alien, let him live.  Help him live.  Don’t let him starve.  The Hertz commentary points out that no other society had such rules.   Not only in the days of the Torah over 3,000 years ago, but right up to the Roman emperor Constantine who instituted poor-relief in the year 315.   Even Constantine’s legislation was repealed by Justinian a couple of centuries later.  And notice that the Torah directs this rule to the individual, not the state.  This is not a “stimulus package.”  It is an Israelite’s duty to save a neighbor.

         Secondly, we will read that we are not to take interest or usury from him.  Yes, he needs a loan.  He needs money to feed himself and his family.  He needs money to start over, to get back on his feet.  If I want to charge him interest, don’t I have a right to it?  No, says the Torah.  “Revere G-d, and let your brother live with you.”  Don’t try to profit from his loss.  Both in Biblical and Rabbinic law, a fine line separates legitimate interest – neshekh —from exorbitant usury —tarbis.  Here both are prohibited.

         Ever been to a Jewish Free Loan office?  Every Jewish community of any size has one.  In Los Angeles where I live, the JFL lends for economic and medical emergencies, or to help a small enterprise get started, and its borrowers are not all Jews either.  Of the thousands of loans on their books, they show a repayment record “in excess of 99%.”  Not a bad record.   That is Leviticus in action.

         Now back to yamukh. Notice that the text specifies a downfall.  This current condition was not necessarily always there; this fellow was not always broke. Maybe he was once as successful as you are.  Maybe he just made some mistakes.   Maybe he got robbed or cheated.  Or maybe he is not very smart.  This is not a condition he planned.   No “entitlements” here.  He is out of luck and out of money.  Your job is to help him if you can.  Of course we can ask “what if this fellow makes a racket out of his poverty?  Do you still have to help him?”  A legitimate question to be sure.  The Book of Leviticus does not treat that possibility, but Talmudic justice would put it in the category of deceit.  We have commandments like “Do not deceive your neighbor or lie.”  Using the shelter of bankruptcy to take advantage of other people’s generosity is also a form of deceit.  Not worthy of help.

         Here we are dealing with something more positive.  The valuable message of this reading is our personal responsibility to extend a helping hand in an emergency.   The Klee Yokor commentary discusses the definite prohibition on taking interest for your help in this situation.  Whatever you give this down-and-outer is not a business loan. By contrast, if a rich man asks you for money, go ahead and charge interest.  Says the Klee Yokor: “Whoever owns a business always looks for G-d’s help, because of the doubt: will he profit or not?” So he borrows money.  The lender also takes a risk, so he is entitled to charge interest. “But,” says the commentary,“seek out the meaning here. The basic purpose [of this ruling] is to forbid usury.”  Your unfortunate brother must not be your victim.                        “V’khai akhikha — Let your brother live.” 

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354 DAYS AT A TIME – Emor –Lev.21-24, by Rabbi Baruch Cohon

354 DAYS AT A TIME – Emor –Lev.21-24, by Rabbi Baruch Cohon

         You probably heard about the fellow who decided to become an atheist.  He left his family’s house of worship and turned his back on religion.  But then a few weeks later, he came back. 

         “You changed your mind?  How come?”

         “Atheists have no holidays.”

         This Torah reading outlines the Jewish calendar, which provides our annual cycle of holidays both serious and upbeat, and all sanctified by faith.  Indeed, Judaism as a way of life is closely connected with the calendar.  That connection goes back to our origins.  Moses reminded us that we left Egypt in the spring month.  Count 49 days – 7 weeks from the Exodus, and on the 50thday we reach Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah and become a nation.  And here in Leviticus 23 we go on to detail the dates of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succoth – New Year, Day of Atonement, and the Harvest festival, all in the fall.

         So why is New Years Day celebrated on the first day of the seventh month?  Precisely because Nisan, the month that includes Passover, is the month of freedom, and is specifically designated as the first month of the year in the very story of the Exodus.  The Talmud’s tractate Rosh Hashana lists four “New Year’s days” every year: one for kings, one for numbering years, one for planting trees and one for tithes.  In our urban culture, of course, we limit our ceremonial New Year to the 1stof Tishri.  That is the day we change the number of the year.

         As we all know, the Jewish calendar, like the Chinese, is based on the moon.  354 days on average, instead of the 365 of the solar calendar.  That causes considerable variety in how Jewish holidays compare with those of our neighbors.  In 2011 and 2019, for example, Hanukkah coincided with Christmas. In 2013 it coincided with Thanksgiving.      

       7 times in every 19 years, the Jewish calendar adds a month during the spring, forming a leap year that resolves the lunar-solar difference.  An ancient scholar named Shmuel who headed the academy in a Babylonian town called Nehardea was responsible for much of the development of the calendar used today.  The Talmud describes him as a man who knew the orbits of the planets as well as he knew the streets of Nehardea.  This self-taught astronomer laid the groundwork for a system that gives Jews the world over the opportunity to celebrate their holidays at the same time.  In the days of much slower communication, they had to add a day to the holiday if they lived outside of Israel, in order to make sure they were all observing the occasion together.  Hence we still have the Second Day of many festivals in traditional Diaspora communities but not in Israel.   A notable exception to this rule is Rosh Hashana itself, the New Year, which is observed for two days in Israel too.  That second day is not considered an “second holiday of exile” (yomtov sheyni shel goluyos) but the two days are called “one long day” (yoma arikhta).  One more opportunity to hear the call of the Shofar!

         With all its complex history, the Jewish calendar constitutes a sacred schedule giving us colorful special days that add meaning to all the grey weekdays of our lives.

         Personally, of course, I feel a special connection to “Emor” because I chanted this section at my own Bar Mitzvah.  That was a long time ago, but the message of this reading rings just as strongly in my ears today.  Opening with detailed rules and regulations for the priests – the Cohanim, Aaron’s sons and descendants – from their personal conduct to their sacrificial duties, “Emor” continues with the entire calendar sequence. Between these two sections, we find two short sentences that give all the laws their basis.  They come at the end of Chapter 22.   There, verse 31 says: “Keep my commandments and do them; I am G-d.”  And verse 32 adds: “Do not profane My holy name, and I will be sanctified among the Israelites; I am G-d who sanctifies you.”  Here are divinely inspired rules that, if we follow, enable us to achieve Kiddush  haShem – sanctifying the Divine name.  Violating those rules amounts to Khillul haShem –profaning that name.

         Violations can take many forms, some more obvious than others. For example, our Torah instructs us to use true measurements – weights, lengths, coins, all must be accurate. Prevent cheating.  In legal disputes, we are cautioned to do justice “justly.”  Tricking a witness in a trial, or manufacturing evidence against a litigant – even if you deeply believe him guilty –is unfair and therefore prohibited. In family affairs, acceptable conduct has countless Mitzvos to be observed, including the rights and duties of wife and husband to each other, of parents and children to each other, and of all to the care of ill and dead family members.

         Crime and punishment get dealt with in this section too.  “One who strikes [wounds or kills] an animal shall pay for the damage. One who kills a human shall die.” But it takes two eye witnesses to convict the killer. All these and many more Mitzvos can be fulfilled – or violated.

         Violating a principle of conduct in business, particularly when dealing with Gentiles, can bring serious trouble to the entire community.  Our enemies come up with many false charges to support their actions against us.  We must not provide them with legitimate cause.  In this connection the Hertz commentary quotes the story of the fellow in the boat drilling a hole under his seat.  It’s only under his seat, but all will drown.  A Jewish crook can give an open door to anti-Semites.  That is definitely khillul haShem.  And what about the opposite?  Suppose we are doing right?  Inquisitors demanded “convert or die.”  Nazis and jihadis offer no alternative: “Kill the Jews!” Their victims are mourned with the righteous.

          All important is not death but life.  Living in such a way as to sanctify the name of the G-d we worship involves fulfilling Mitzvos, from observing the occasions of our calendar – Sabbath, festivals, matzoh on Passover and fasting on Yom Kippur – to how we interact with other human beings, Jewish or Gentile.  How we live our daily lives makes us aware of those Mitzvos, and carrying them out builds our character.  Do we deal honestly in business?  Do we respect our elders?  Do we teach our children Torah?  Do we help the poor?  Do we support just causes?  That’s the kind of life that sanctifies G-d’s name.  That kind of behavior sanctifies our lives.  That is Kiddush haShem (sanctifying the Holy Name), Kiddish hakhayyim too (sanctifying life).  Torah offers us some practical help to sanctify our lives.

          Today and every day, this week and every week, let the words of “Emor” remind us of our ongoing choice: profane or sanctify.

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