Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23

This portion deals with the regulations for the Priests and goes on to legislate the cycles of Shabbat and the Festivals.


WE ARE COMMANDED to be a nation of priests, each one of us fulfilling the priestly function of mediating between human and divine. In Emor we are told that the priest must be unblemished. He must radiate perfection. The offerings that she brings must also be perfect.

As I seek to fulfill my priestly function I look at my life, I look at the physical universe that surrounds me, I look at Nature, I look into the human predicament of every person that I meet. And I cannot find something that is unblemished. The closer I look, the more imperfections I find. Everything and everyone is in process. We are all searching for balance in a world that is in flux. We are all flawed; our physical bodies are slowly or quickly decaying. This is the paradox of Emor: I and everything that I offer is likewise flawed, marked with the limitations of my particular perspective and prejudice. And yet, the truth of perfection permeates the atmosphere of my life, like a tantalizing fragrance.

EMOR IS A PARADOX. To receive the blessing of paradox means that I must expand my embrace. I must create a wider context in which to live and encompass the contradictions that the paradox offers. To live with paradox means I must always be expanding my conceptions of reality. I live in process, continually opening to the wider view. The process itself touches me with its beauty.


THE PARADOX IS THAT WE ARE BOTH PERFECT AND IMPERFECT at the same time. If the priestly function is to mediate between the human and divine… of course it makes sense that we be made of both!

There are times when I look into this world or into the blemishes of my own character, and I am shown the perfection of the Whole. Not only do I see it, I experience that perfection as a “rightness” and I am overcome by its heart-shattering beauty. I celebrate the perfection and let it inspire and empower me. Experiencing that perfection gives me the strength to bear the imperfections. Within the perfection of this dance, we learn and suffer, die and are re-born. Those blemishes that might have disqualified me from the priesthood actually become the doorways into my power as a priest. It is only when I deny those blemishes or hide them from God that my offerings are rejected. When I enter through them, I can touch the perfection within all imperfection.

OUR SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE is to acknowledge with eyes wide open, our flaws and the harm we cause through them, the suffering, injustice and cruelty that pervade our world… AND at the same time to see the absolute perfection of it all.


Emor gives us guidance for rising to this challenge. With the celebration of the Holy Days, the Torah gives me a path of continual becoming. During times set aside for holiness, I can dip into the timeless well of perfection and then dive back into the swirling river of change. The cycles of Shabbat allow me to drink from Edenic streams and taste perfection, and then send me back to face the world of brokenness.

Sacred Rhythms Practice

THE FESTIVALS OF PESACH, SHAVUOT AND SUKKOT connect me with the cycles of planting and harvest so that I can learn to face death and find there new seeds for planting as the cycle renews itself.

THE HOLY TIMES OF ROSH HASHANA AND YOM KIPPUR provide me with a cycle of reflection, a time to uncover my blemishes and then turn to God to receive the inheritance of perfection in forgiveness.

THE RHYTHM OF THE SEASONS gets under my skin, flows through my blood. The holy days direct my attention to the swelling and shrinking of the moon. I watch a perfect circle of light disappear into darkness and return again.

I LET GO OF PERFECTION AGAIN AND AGAIN. I live in process, continually opening to the wider view. The process itself touches me with its beauty.

THE TORAH GIVES ME THE PRACTICE OF CONTEMPLATING THE CYCLES and flow that lead me to the experience of perfection. Those experiences empower me as a healer, a priest who knows and sees the hidden truth behind our broken world.

Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land
©2006 Shefa Gold. All rights reserved.