Dvar Torah Parshat Emor 5770 2010

The Sidra of Emor is devoted mainly to the laws pertaining to the Kohanim. As we know, the Jewish people are divided into three types, Kohanim, Leviim and Yisraelim. I say types and not classes because while there is a distinction between these three classifications they do not create a caste system with privileged individuals. Rather, as we see in our Sidra, there are numerous obligations imposed on the Kohanim.

Concerning the Kohen we are told VEKIDASHTO, “And you shall sanctify him…” (Lev. 21,8) According to the way this word is interpreted by Chazal, and Rashi reminds us, it means everyone is obligated to see that the Kohen remains sanctified. That means that even if the Kohen does not live up to his obligations it is we who are responsible to see that he does.

The divisions among the Jews are not divisions of privilege but rather of obligations. We must give the Kohen respect for his position of holiness. The Levi must also be recognized for his position and, for that matter, every individual must be respected for everyone has some worth in which he or she excels and serves mankind.

Just as a curious fact, Rabbi Soloveitchik, who was the mentor of the Rambam Day School in Boston, insisted that every child who was a Kohen or Levi, when submitting examination papers or homework should write after their name their designation so that in future years when these children grow up, they will remember who they are and these divisions will not be forgotten.

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