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Friday, Iyar 9, 5784 / May 17, 2024 (24th day of the Omer)


This week’s Parsha, Emor, begins with commandments for a Kohen (priest) and Kohen Gadol (High priest), whose role was to serve in the Holy Temple. A kohen must not come close to a dead body, except for seven relatives which he may attend to. The Parsha tells us which blemishes disqualify a kohen from serving in the Temple and which disqualify an animal from being brought as a sacrifice.


In the latter half of the Parsha the Torah commands us about observing the holidays, beginning with Shabbat, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.


One of the mitzvot in this week's Parsha is the prohibition to slaughter a cow and her calf on the same day. It applies when slaughtering the animals to eat or for a sacrifice in the Holy Temple. This prohibition applies even when the calf is not slaughtered in front of its mother.


What is the reason behind this prohibition? According to the Holy Zohar, the reason for this prohibition is that we should not become insensitive and develop bad character traits.


Our sages tell us that one of the character traits in which the Jewish people excel is mercy ("Rachmanut").  The Talmud says that one can identify a descendant of the Patriarch Abraham, a Jew, by the fact that he or she is merciful to others.  If anyone needed proof of this, it is very apparent in the way the IDF soldiers conduct themselves even when in battle…


The Torah prohibition not to cause suffering to animals is very strict. The Torah commands us that when one sees an animal weighed down under a heavy load, that person must help to ease the animal's burden. Also, according to Jewish law, one is not permitted to eat before feeding their animals. The animal must be fed first!


Our sages also say, "Whoever shows mercy for all of G-d's creatures will in turn cause heavenly mercy upon themselves.”  


Rabbi Chayim Palagi says, “When a person is in distress or sick, he or she should make it a point to be kind to animals, like feeding birds or other animals. This invokes G-d's mercy upon us.


The Talmud tells a story about Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, compiler of the Mishna, that for many years he suffered great physical pain as a punishment for not coming to the aid of a calf that ran under his coat for safety, while being led to the slaughterhouse.


Then, one day when he saw the maid in the house chasing away little kittens, he ordered her to stop.  He told her that just like G-d's mercy is upon all His creation, so too, we must have mercy upon all creatures.  As a result of this kind act, Rabbi Yehuda's illness disappeared, and his pain was gone.




Montreal candle lighting time: 8:03 / Shabbat ends: 9:17