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PARASHAT HASHAVUA:
 

Parshas Emor
Pure Words of Truth
Rabbi Chaim Lobel
 
(Leviticus; Chapter 21, Verse 1) “G-d said to Moses: Say to the Kohanim (priests), the sons of Aaron.” The name of this week’s Torah portion is Emor, which literally means “say.” The word of G-d is being transmitted to the Kohanim giving forth the proper halachos (laws) which pertain specifically to them.
 
The Medrash Rabba (21:1), in the name of R' Tanchum the son of Chanilai, makes reference to the verse in Psalms(12:7) “the sayings of G-d are words that are pure,” associating it with the name of Parshas Emor. The Medrash, based on the verse, continues to distinguish between the words of a king made of flesh and blood and the words of the King of Kings, G-d Himself.
 
A king of flesh and blood may promise his countrymen, “Tomorrow, I will build bathhouses and improve the infrastructure of the land. Tomorrow, I will rebuild our wells and our irrigation system.” However, this king is only a human being; and tomorrow, he may never wake up. “Where is your king and where are his words?” However, G-d is infinite and His word will always be fulfilled. The words and promises of G-d cannot falter since, He has no bounds. Therefore, G-d’s words are pure.
 
It appears that the Medrash is detracting from a king’s promises, because he is human and is subject to physical limitations. Even if the king were to carry out his promise with the purest intentions, his words would still not have been absolutely reliable.  However, G-d is limitless and His words are pure.
 
A promise is either an obligation (i.e. I promise I’ll do something) or a surety (i.e. I promise I did something). However, how can any promise be absolute? We can neither control nor predict the future, and our memories are not infallible; but if a promise is less than absolute, it cannot reflect the absolute truth. Without truth, nothing is pure. 
 
As the Medrash suggests, a true promise may only come from one who cannot falter. As we say in Psalms, only the sayings of G-d “are words that are pure.” Understanding this concept humbles a person to a point where the words of a promise from a human being seem to be missing the most important factor - the guarantee.  
shabbat shalom

***

Rabbi Chaim Lobel is the Rabbi of Young Israel of Aberdeen, Congregation Bet Tefilah, Aberdeen, NJ. http://www.yiaberdeen.com/index.html


 
   
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