Parashat Emor & the importance of “Life”!

Dear Friends;

I hope that you’ll enjoy the following Parashat summary followed by Dvar Torah;

” Parsha in a Nutshell ”

This week’s Parsha begins with the special laws dedicated to the Kohanim, the Kohen Gadol (“High Priest”), and the Temple service. A Kohen may not become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, unless it’s a close relative. A Kohen may not marry a divorcee, nor a harlot; and a Kohen Gadol can only marry a virgin. A Kohen with a physical deformity cannot serve in the Holy Temple, nor can a deformed animal be brought as an offering.

A newborn calf, lamb, or kid must be left with its mother for seven days before being eligible for an offering; one may not slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day.

The Torah then discusses the festivals throughout the year: (Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret); followed by two constant mitzvot maintained in the Mishkan: the lighting of the menorah every day and the displaying of the “show-bread” every week.

The parsha concludes with the horrible incident of a man who cursed G-d’s name (blasphemy) and was subsequently punished with the death penalty at Hashem’s command.

” Dvar Torah ”

I would like to dedicate this week’s Dvar Torah to Eluy Nishmat Nissan Ben Yona , late Mehran Hakimian (Mortezazadeh). May these Divrei Torahs help to bring comfort to his soul and to all of us who miss him dearly. Accordingly, with your permission, I would like to deviate from the weekly Parsha and say a few words on the importance of “Life”! I hope that you’ll enjoy reading it:

“Life”, is by far the most precious thing anyone can possess. Every man’s dream is to live a long life. Even the animals know the importance of life since every single one of them has to fight for his life in order to survival. Out of all the greatest blessings in the world that a person can ask for, whether it’s health, happiness or prosperity,  the blessing of longevity surpasses the rest by far, because you need to be alive in order to receive the other blessings!

The Torah also talks about the importance of life. In Parashat Nitzavim, , Moshe gathers the entire congregation On the last day of his life to give them his farewell speech. He basically tells them the secret to survival in the land of Israel. If they would follow G-d’s commandments, Hashem will bless them and they will prosper in the promised Land, but G-d forbid if they do not follow, they will be accursed and they will perish from the Land. Towards the end of his speech, Moshe tells them the following: ” I call upon you today, the heaven and the earth as witnesses for you. I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. And you shall choose LIFE, so that you and your children may live.”

So we see that even Moshe Rabeinu, just before his death, gives advice to the nation to choose life over death. Although Moshe was about to leave this world for a better place, a place which he could be closer to the Almighty which he loves so much, but he still wanted the people to know that the life in this world is more precious than anything else. You could tell that Moshe was very sad as he was about to leave this world!

But the question that comes to mind is, what is so special about life that the Torah demands from us to choose life over death? In Judaism, life is so important that the Halacha says that under no circumstances death has priority over life. Suicide is strictly forbidden! Even in the case of a very sick person, we have to fight for his life till the last second. To demonstrate the importance of life, the Torah tells us that the reward for honoring parents which is considered to be one of the hardest mitzvot of the Torah, is longevity.

But on the other hand, in Talmud it says that the world that we live in is just a corridor to get us through to our ultimate destination, “Olam Haba”- the world to come! It is there that our souls are going to live forever! It is there that there won’t be any pain or suffering anymore! It is there that every soul is going to be closer to the Almighty! So why can’t we speed up our journey to get to our final destination? Why does the Torah give preference to life over death?

The Chachamim give the following explanation. The only reason that this world has superiority over the world to come is because, only in this world we can perform the mitzvot of the Torah. Not necessarily the mitzvot between man and G-d, but mainly the mitzvot between man and man. The mitzvot such as to give charity, to help the poor, to respect parents, to be honest in business, to treat your employee with respect and to pay his wages on time, to visit the sick, to not take revenge, to not hold a grudge and to love your friend like yourself. All these things can only be done in this world! The Torah is telling us to choose life, because only in this life we have the chance to take care of others! Only in this world we can show compassion towards other human beings! Hashem wants us to live a meaningful life, a life committed to values and a higher purpose. In the world to come, we’ll have enough time to spend with the Almighty, but we will never have the chance to care for others!

Yes my friends, life is the greatest gift from the Heaven above; cherish every moment of it. Be very happy that you are alive and show your appreciation to G-d. Use your lifetime to accomplish, to grow, to improve and above all, to do G-d’s wishes. G-d has granted us a life but He has given us a mission too, and that is to have compassion for each other and to care for one another! Remember that to take care of others, to be kind to others and to forgive others is only possible to do in this world. In the world to come, you won’t be able to visit the sick, because there will be no more sick people there. You won’t be able to help the poor, because there won’t be any more poor people there.  So, let us not waste our precious lives in this world on the irrelevant issues and let us follow the path that Hashem is showing us. After all, life is only worth living, if there is a purpose to life!

This week, we have lost a dear friend. Mehran was a good husband, a good father, a good brother, a good son, a good friend and a good colleague. Although it may seem that his life may have ended a little too soon, but he has lived a full life according to the Torah. He understood the mission of life and he fulfilled it at its best. In his life time, he took care of so many people and he helped so many individual without asking for anything in return. He has touched the hearts of so many people from young to elderly that most people cannot achieve even if they would live for a full century. Yes, we may have lost a great person in this world,  but his soul will be a great gain in the Heaven above. We shall miss him greatly and we shall never forget him!

May he rest in peace and may Hashem comfort his family and everyone who loved him.

Shabbat Shalom & Regards;