In this Shabbat’s weekly Torah portion Emor (“Speak”) Leviticus 21:1–24:23, begins with the special laws pertaining to the kohanim (“priests”), the kohen gadol (“high priest”), and the Temple service: A kohen may not become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, save on the occasion of the death of a close relative. A kohen may not marry a divorcee, or a woman with a promiscuous past; a kohen gadol can marry only a virgin. A kohen with a physical deformity cannot serve in the Holy Temple, nor can a deformed animal be brought as an offering.

A newborn calf, lamb or kid must be left with its mother for seven days before being eligible for an offering; one may not slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day.

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In this week’s Haftara Prophets reading Ezekiel 44:15 – 44:31, discusses various laws that pertain to the kohanim, the priests, a topic also discussed at length in the first part of the week’s Torah portion.

Ezekiel prophesies about the service of the kohanim in the third Holy Temple which will be rebuilt after the Final Redemption. The prophet describes their priestly vestments, their personal care, whom they may and may not marry, and their special purity requirements which preclude them from coming in contact with a corpse, unless it’s for a next of kin. He also discusses their calling as teachers and spiritual leaders.

Happy studying!

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