Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Emor

Nonnegotiable Boundaries

By Rabbi Label Lam

And HASHEM said to Moshe: ĎSay to the Kohanim, the sons of Aaron, and you shall say to them:ďTo a (dead) person he shall not become impure among his peopleÖĒí (Vayikra 21:1)

There are two major motifs in Emor. The first part deals with laws pertaining to the maintenance of the integrity of the Kidusha-Holiness of the Cohanim. The second speaks of special combinations of sacrifices that are to be brought in the Mikdash on the various Yomim Tovim-Holy Days. It may already be too easy to figure out how these two are connected but itís still worth explaining.

There are three basic arenas of life- Olam ĖShana- Nefesh; that is literally world (place), time, and person! The permissibility or the forbidden-ness of an act depend upon the coordination of these three factors; where, when, and who! Plug in the deed and the variables. Eating one hour before Yom Kippur begins may actually be a noble thing. An hour later it is despicable! Why? The Torah designated this time to for this set of behaviors and inappropriate for others. Thatís the reality of these boundaries like any others boundaries. Thatís what holiness means. Itís the art and science of living respectfully within the G-d given boundaries of life.

Think about it! When people employ all their intelligence only to blur the lines of distinctions rather than to clarify them they are working against the Kodesh-the Holy and they are trying to make everything Chol-secular. Chol lierally means sand! Sand is an undefined conglomerate of particles. It has no particular shape or direction. Kodesh, on the other hand, thrives on the drawing of and the obedience to clearly defined boundaries.

For example, a person needs to eat and sleep and learn and work. It then becomes important to eat when itís time to eat and sleep when itís time to sleep etc.

What happens when any of these disciplines are broken and the person sleeps when itís time to work or eats when itís time to sleep?! Once we know and appreciate that that these lines of time, place, and person are not negotiable then the stage is set for a life of holiness. Shabbos is Shabbos and not a time to work. The Cohanim have standards that protect the integrity of and enhance their inherent Holiness.

I still have ringing in my ears the cute words of one of my Rebbeimís sons from more than 31 years ago. Shabbos morning there was an Aufruf in Yeshiva and the groom as is customary was to be called to the Torah. With the extra guests in attendance there was a larger than usual crowd. The children were also there in greater than to expected numbers. They could detect the sweet smell of candy like birds in the park gathering around the man with the bag of bed crumbs. Once the groom finished his blessing after the Torah reading the bags loaded with goodies began to fly from all directions and so did the scramble of little kids to collect them aggressively.

At the Kiddush one of Rebbeimís boys proudly showed off to his father his newly found cache of candy. His father was coaching him and advising that he squirrel away his treasure before they go home. The kid just did not want to depart from his hard earned candy bags and it wasnít time to open them up and eat them all right then and there. The boy insisted he wanted to take them home and the father reminded him firmly there was no Eruv to permit him to carry his package home and he would have to wait until after Shabbos. In desperation he said one more thing, ďAbba, Iíll putím in my pocket! No one will see!Ē

I remember thinking then that this was a perfectly charming and immature attempt to obfuscate what an adult can understand are unavoidable and nonnegotiable boundaries.

DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and



View Complete List

His Worst Nightmare Realized
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Flaming Desire
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

When Things Look Bleak
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Shabbos Is Both A Mitzvah And A Present
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

Purim: Basic Concepts And Laws
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

Oh No! Not DeNILE Again!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766


Judaism and Violence
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

When Giving is Taking
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

When Dignity Really Counts
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Purim Lesson???
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

Higher than Sinai
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

Esther's Lesson in Nature
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

> Forged With Love
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

From Rags to Riches
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

Masked Emotions
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

The Negative Side of Individuality
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5764

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information