This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23)

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs every Monday at 7pm PST on my live cam and on YouTube.

Alexander Technique teacher Adolfo Santamaria joins us.

This week’s we study Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23).

* I suspect the Torah would rejoice in the royal wedding. Here are two goys pledging eternal fidelity. The Torah is cool with people having a special role, including kingship, by birth. Psalm 45 is about the joy of a royal wedding.

* Is it sacrilegious or sinful to say that some Torah portions are more or less riveting than others? For instance, the traditional commentators such as Rashi and the Rambam had more to say and less to say about varying parshas.

* Holiness and ritual protect ethics. God consciousness as demonstrated by holy behavior leads to ethical behavior. The core of Leviticus is Kedoshim (the holiness code) and in the middle of it is the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. If you had to choose a college student babysitter and you could watch prospective sitters sit around and talk, you’d likely choose the ones who cursed less rather than more, if that was the only distinguishing characteristic. You expect a sitter who curses less to be more responsible.

* Lech l’cha. I want to talk about the trauma of moving after 14 years in the hovel.

* Torah cautions parents to moderate their behavior so that they will set a good example for their children. Even though I have no children, I influence people. All of us influence people. Whether we like it or not, we are each role models and so we shouldn’t smoke crack and patronize massage parlors.

* Priests should not marry prostitutes. I’m not a priest. What’s my excuse? I’ve met many nice ladies of the evening. Do hookers make for good wives?

* The priest and the Jew are not merely individuals. They represent God and the people Israel. They have responsibilities. So even though I want to move to Hawaii and frolic with bikini-wearing shiksas, this is forbidden to me, even if I don’t hurt anyone.

* Studying Torah is not always natural and easy. I’m a man of great holiness, but when the sun’s out and women are wearing scant clothing, it’s hard for me to sit indoors and to read about priests with crushed testes and their need to marry virgins.

* I remember telling this Orthodox rabbi that I was writing a scholarly book on the history of sex in film and he said, “I’m sure it’s very academic as you say, but we can’t have that in our community. No Orthodox synagogue will put up with this. It’s tamei.”

What does tamei mean?

He had this disgusted look on his face when he said the word. I could tell this was not his favorite conversation.

* In the song “Desperado,” the Eagles say that the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet. Is this true? Dennis Prager says: “The heart stinks as a guide to life. Stinks. It’s the worst. It is better to be guided by a ouija board than by your heart. I’d rather you had a tarot card reading to tell you what to do than let your heart determine what you do. The heart is wonderful for intimacy. For you love this piece of music rather than that one. It is perfectly fine if your heart determine what music you like, what food you like, what hairdo you have, let your heart determine it as long as you live.”

* As I was preparing for this week’s show, I was listening to some nice soft music in the background, including “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones. It seemed like incongruous music to study Torah by. I might not be going about Torah study the right way.

I’ve got my mind made up
I need to feel your touch
I’m gonna run to you

Is a Jew permitted to listen to goyisha music about forbidden sexual relations? While studying Torah?

* Why is the Torah so obsessed with not having priests serving in the temple with testes “squeezed, crushed, torn or cut”? (Lev. 22:24) How did so many priests in ancient times suffer these indignities? What about cysts on the gonads, would that prohibit a priest from serving? What about a rabbi doing Torah Talk?

* Lev. 22:32. God and Torah are concerned about the sanctification and the desecration of God’s name. Do you think this show makes Jews, God and Torah look good or bad?

* I think the rabbi has morally desensitized me. I was giving a little talk the other day and for the first time publicly, I used the f-word. I don’t where that came from except from Rabbs. Nobody else I know uses that kind of language.

* Do Torah talks enhance or hurt our chances of getting shidduchim?

* Lev. 24:10. Blasphemy leads to anti-social behavior such as murder and property theft.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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