News From Ramaz
By Alex S. (Grade 6)
In this week's parasha, parashat Emor we learn about numerous laws dealing with ritual purity and what makes a kohen tameh (impure) and tahor (pure). The parasha starts off with the laws of kohanim interacting with the dead. Kohanim are generally not allowed to go near the dead or they will become tameh. However, there is an exception for relatives such as the kohen's mother, father, brother, or sister. Also, kohanim are not allowed to cut any of their hair or their skin. It also talks about who they can and cannot marry. The parasha says that if a kohen becomes tameh he has to go to the mikvah to become tahor, and wait until night in order to eat his food.
In addition to the laws about kohanim, the parasha also discusses some laws about korbanot. An animal has to have spent at least seven days with its mom before it can be used for a korban. Animals also have to be in good shape in order to be brought as a korban. If someone brings a korban todah then it has to be eaten the same day that it was brought.
Both the laws of kohanim and korbanot are focused on spiritual perfection and purity. In today's time when we no longer have a beit hamikdash what can we learn from these seemingly outdated laws? The Torah is trying to teach us that having a pure mind and a pure heart and doing the right things in the right way for the right reason is more important than doing things in a big flashy way. There are mitzvot we follow that only the individual knows if he has done right or wrong. For example, if a kohen touches a dead body and nobody saw him do it only he knows that he is tameh. The same thing goes for a korban. If somebody brought his own animal that was with its mom for less than seven days it is possible that only that person knows this. Also, we see that the Torah is more concerned about a small blemish on an animal than how big or expensive the animal is. From all of the above we learn that hashem places the most value in spiritual perfection and us doing the right thing regardless of who knows, because hashem is always watching.