Parshat Emor: Leviticus 21:1 -- 24:23

Rules around what to do with your sukkah... Well, you are supposed to eat all your meals in a sukkah and sleep there too. Doesn't always happen for everybody, but it is a really nice idea. The Orthodox will sleep and eat in them for all seven (or eight) days. Well, there are always exceptions based on minhag (your local tradition). For instance, the Lubavitchers (Chabad) will not sleep in them but will eat in the sukkah no matter if is pouring down rain (which isn't halachicly -- legally -- mandated). The Belzers won't sleep in a sukkah because of its "intrinsic holiness."

Another requirement is that you shake a lulav and etrog in the sukkah. A what and what? Yes, a lulav and etrog. The lulav is made of three of the four species -- Hadass (myrtle tree), Aravah (willow tree), and Lulav (date palm tree). The last species is the etrog, a citron, like a lemon.

From Wikimedia CCWell, that is the bulk of the portion. The last part talks about the lighting in the Tabernacle and a specific type of bread that must be placed there everyday. The last section is about a blasphemer. We all know not to take G-d's name in vain; that's why I use my dash. Well, there is more to the story there but I will leave the theory behind G-d's name and G-d's job description out of this summary. Here, at the end of the portion, it says that anyone who blasphemed G-d was to be put to death. Anyone who killed any other human being was to be put to death. Anyone who killed an animal (that was not theirs) was to make restitution. And anyone who injured or maimed another was to make a proportionate restitution.

What is interesting here is that it was a lighthearted portion about holidays and celebrations, but G-d reminds us that being people, being Israelites, is serious business. We are often called the Chosen People, but the shoresh (the root) of the word in Hebrew can also mean tested. We are the people who are tested. And these are our rules and our celebrations that G-d gave to us when we agreed to be G-d's Tested People.

Parshat Emor from

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Talia Davis is the daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of rabbis. She directs the Jewish Portal at Patheos and manages the site's online community.

4/28/2010 4:00:00 AM
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