Vol 27.22 - Emor 1                              Spanish French Audio  Video

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Midrash Rabbah    Rambam Chapter 5    Rambam Chapter 6

(5744) The lesson from the name of the Parsha "Emor" - speaking in praise of one's fellow man(according to Vayikra Rabba, beg of our Parsha(26)) 
Explanation of the two laws in Rambam ( Hil De'ot 5:7 and 6:3): concerning the requirement  to speak favorably of one's fellow man


The name of this week's Torah reading, Emor, contains a lesson for every Jew. "Emor -- Say" the Torah commands every Jew. The power of speech entails a certain responsibility we must always be aware of every time we open our mouths.

The Midrash explains that all of G-d's utterances are amarot tehorot, "pure statements." Whatever G-d says comes into being, unlike the statements of a fleshly king, who may promise the world but not necessarily fulfill his pledge. G-d is the essence of truth, and His utterances endure forever.

As every Jew is intimately connected to G-d, his statements share this same quality of endurance. Every Jew must therefore be extremely careful when he speaks, and refrain from saying anything negative about his fellow Jew.

The Torah portion of Emor teaches us to speak only positively about other Jews. As Maimonides puts it, "It is a mitzva to love each and every Jew...therefore, one must speak only of his praise."

Maimonides writes that a talmid chacham (Torah scholar) "extols the virtue of his fellow and does not denigrate him." Every Jew is similarly obligated to say only kind things about others, and not, G-d forbid, speak evil of his fellow man.

Even if we see a Jew doing something wrong we must always judge him favorably and try to understand what caused him to sin. We must never defame his character or mention his transgression.

Just as G-d's utterances are "pure," abiding forever, so too do our positive statements about other Jews exert a lasting and powerful influence. The very act of praising another Jew serves to reveal the innate good that is hidden inside him, and causes him to want to live up to the words of praise.

Emor is read during sefirat ha'omer, the counting of the omer. These days are a period of mourning for the 24,000 disciples of Rabbi Akiva who passed away because they did not treat each other with the proper respect.

Counting the omer reminds us to stop speaking about other Jews in an unfavorable light. Similarly, Emor reminds us to speak favorably about our fellow Jews.

"Emor!" the Torah enjoins us. Say only good about another person! (http://lchaim-weekly.com/lchaim/5758/518.htm)

Synopsis 2:

In this week’s parshah, HaShem tells Moshe RabbeinuEmor el hakohanim — “You shall say to the kohanim.” The parshah goes on to teach us about some of the mitzvos which the kohanim must keep.

But the name of the parshah is Emor — “You shall say.” By just calling it Emor and not Emor el hakohanim — we can understand that HaShem is also commanding us about things we should say. This commandment seems to be hinting that we should talk a lot about certain things. But what? And haven’t we learned in Pirkei Avos: Emor me’at vasei harbei “Say a little and do a lot”?

If HaShem is commanding us to say some things, they must be words that are good and proper. What might they be?

The first thing that comes to mind is that we should be saying words of Torah. But that is a separate commandment: V’dibarta bam — “And you shall speak them the words of Torah.”

So here it must mean something else.

With the word Emor, HaShem is telling us that we should always be saying good things about other people. We can see how important this is if we think about what happens when people, G‑d forbid, do not say nice things about others.

Our Rabbis tell us that when someone speaks Lashon Hora, three people suffer: the person who speaks, the person who listens and the person they are talking about. We can understand why the ones who speak and listen are responsible for the sin which they committed, but why should this affect the person they are talking about? He didn’t take part in their conversation. He may not even know they were talking about him!

Let’s think about what we are doing as we talk. We are bringing thoughts which are hidden into the open. And this causes something to happen to the person we are talking about. When we speak about the bad within a person, we are bringing it into the open by our words. That’s why speaking Lashon Hora about a person harms him, because it can encourage the bad in him. If we would not speak about the bad, perhaps it would stay hidden and he would not do bad deeds.

Now our Sages tell us that good has much more power than bad. Just think what could happen if we said only good things about others. Because speech brings thoughts into the open, saying a lot of good things about others will bring out the good that is inside them. And this is what HaShem is commanding us to do when He says Emor. We should be saying good things about others all the time.

Since speaking brings hidden things into the open, we should speak about the geulah with our families and friends, for this will help make it happen sooner.


Synopsis 3:

The Power of Speech

The word "Torah" is related to the word "hora'ah,"404 or "lesson," for every aspect and detail of Eternal Torah provides the Jew a lesson in his spiritual service. These lessons are germane always and everywhere. The same, of course, is also true with regard to the names of the Torah Portions, names that have been established according to Jewish Custom, which itself is Torah.
So, too, with our section titled Emor. Although Emor ("Tell") refers to Moshe's relaying G-d's message to the kohanim, the priests, still, since the portion is titled Emor, we comprehend that "Emor" contains a general lesson that applies to all Jews.

The word Emor not only permits speech, but commands speech. Moreover, since no limitation is given to the quantity of speech, it evidently refers to speech that is so virtuous and exemplary that no limitation is placed upon it.

What possible form of speech is being alluded to here? It cannot be referring to speaking words of Torah, for Torah speech has its own distinct commandment -- "You shall speak of them."405

In commenting on the verse "Tell the kohanim..." the Midrash states:406 "'G-d's words are pure words;'407 the words of a human being are not pure. It is customary that when a human king enters a country all its inhabitants laud him. The king delights in their praises and promises them, 'tomorrow I shall build for you...' The king goes to sleep, never to awake. Where is he and where are his words? But G-d is not like that. Rather, 'The L-rd G-d is true.'408 Why is He true? Said R. Avin: 'For He is a Living G-d and Eternal King.'"409

Since the Jewish people are "alive" because they cleave to G-d410 -- "And you the Jewish people who cleave to the L-rd your G-d are all alive today"411 -- it is understood that Jews as well are capable of telling another "pure words" that surely come to fruition.

Moreover, since "the righteous are similar to their Creator,"412 therefore, just as G-d's very words are efficacious (the world was created through His speech,413 etc.), likewise, as it were, with the speech of the righteous -- there are matters that they are capable of bringing about through their very speech.

We will better understand what specific type of speech this refers to by noting that the previously mentioned Midrash concludes with a statement about the utterly harmful effect of Lashon HaRa, slanderous speech, which "kills three -- the speaker, the listener, and the one of whom it is spoken of."

Understandably then, good and becoming speech, concerning which the Torah exhorts "Emor," "tell" and "say," is the absolute antithesis of Lashon HaRa. Thus it refers to expressing and declaring the praises of one's fellow man. Such speech, in addition to being laudable in and of itself, is also highly beneficial -- the very words themselves have a positive effect.

The beneficial and positive effect of speaking the praises of another will be better understood by gaining additional insight into the previous statement of the Midrash that slanderous speech "kills three -- the speaker, the listener, and the one of whom it is spoken of."

At first glance, this statement is most perplexing. We can well understand why such speech has such a profound negative impact on the speaker and listener -- after all, they are engaging in a sin so heinous that our Sages414 liken it to the combined sins of "idolatry, incestuous relationships and murder." But what of the person being slandered, what is he guilty of; as he has no part in the sin, why should he suffer as well?

The explanation is as follows: The nature of speech is that of revealing something that was previously concealed in thought. Thus, when another's evil is revealed through speech it has the capacity to do spiritual harm to the person about whom the evil is spoken of;415 were this evil not to have been revealed through speech, it may well have remained dormant and not elicit the unfortunate ensuing results of its revelation.

It is axiomatic that "positive actions have a greater degree of efficacy than negative actions."416 If speaking of another's evil qualities and traits harms that individual, surely speaking of the other's good qualities and traits has a positive influence upon the person so praised, providing that person additional vigor and force in his spiritual service.

Herein lies the lesson of the title Emor -- one must constantly and incessantly tell and relate the praises of his fellow Jew. Doing so will reveal and unveil the abundance of hidden goodness and holiness concealed within each and every Jew.


404. Gur Aryeh beginning of Bereishis quoting the Radak. See also Zohar, Vol. III, p. 53b.
405. Devarim 6:7.
406. Vayikra Rabbah, beginning of ch. 26.
407. Tehillim 12:7.
408. Yirmeyahu 10:10
409. Conclusion of above verse.
410. Avos d'Rebbe Nasan end of ch. 34.
411. Devarim 4:4.
412. Bereishis Rabbah 67:8; Esther Rabbah 6:2; Rus Rabbah 4:3.
413. See Tehillim 33:6; Avos beginning of ch. 5.
414. Erachin 15b; Rambam, Hilchos De'os 7:3.
415. See Zohar Vol. II, p. 264b ff.; HaYom Yom, entry Tishrei 29.
416. Sotah 11a and places cited there; Rashi, Yisro 20:6.





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