Parashat Emor (Say) Leviticus 21:1-24:23

Parashat Emor (Say) Leviticus 21:1-24:23
Haftarah: Ezekiel 44:15:31

In this week’s Torah portion there is a very important command not to desecrate HaShem’s Holy Name.
“You shall not desecrate My Holy Name, and I shall be sanctified in this midst of the children of Israel; I am the L-rd who sanctifies you…the One who brought you from the land of Egypt to be to you for a G-d I am the L-rd.” Lev. 22:32-33

At the end of the parasha one learns of the serious consequence for one who desecrates the name of HaShem—death! What does the word to desecrate mean? The Hebrew word has to do with something that is devoid or empty. Hence the basic idea in desecrating G-d’s name is to use / say it in an improper manner. So frequently today people say “oh god” without any thought or reference to the Living G-d. It is just an expression to them. Is HaShem really concerned when we use His name casually?

Many people will say that it is only the four letter Hebrew word יהוה to which this commandment is referring. I personally believe that G-d looks to the intent of man. If someone refers to G-d using a word in whatever language that means the One True Creator G-d then this commandment is relevant. One should realize that there is power in the Name of G-d and when one invokes G-d in any language he should be serious and aware of what he is doing. People tend to place their casualness upon G-d. They think because something is not important to them, then it must not be too important to G-d. Nothing could be further from the truth. We make a great error when we try to understand G-d based upon our values, experiences, and perspective.

Theologians have spoken very accurately when they have said that it is only through divine revelation that one can know G-d. That is when one is totally intent upon knowing HaShem, not just that there is a G-d, but knowing His attributes and character, through  HaShem’s revelation to man. Where is the best place to find divine revelation? The answer is in the word of G-d, i.e. the Holy Scripture. The verse quoted above reveals that G-d has a primary desire to work in our lives and have a sanctifying influence—that is to bring holiness into our being which is discernable through our attributes and character both in thought and deed.

It is not an accident that immediately after revealing that G-d wants to have a sanctifying influence in our lives, the exodus from Egypt is mentioned (see Lev 22:33). As I have said numerous times before, the exodus from Egypt is a description of redemption. G-d has redeemed us in order to work in our lives in a very particular manner. It is sad today that the message of the Scripture is being distorted so often to a message that says “G-d is available to help man to accomplish his goals, wants, and dreams” rather than a total focus on a turning away from sin (our wants, dreams, and desires) and embracing G-d and His will through Messiah Yeshua.

The Name of G-d is so important that when the priests blessed the children of Israel it says, “Let them (the priests) place My Name upon the children of Israel.” Num.6:27

A great Jewish sage once said, “That it is not only when a person misuses the name of G-d in speech which is a violation of this commandment, but also when one fails to express the Name (character) of G-d through one’s behavior.”

On this Shabbat let us remember why it is that G-d has revealed Himself to man and what He wants to accomplish in and through our lives.

Shabbat Shalom.

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