Emor is Hebrew for “Say;” The Torah portiont begins with the phrase “And YHVH said to Moses, ‘Say to the priests…”
Summary: Emor deals with appropriate behavior for the priests. For example, priests are to avoid contact with the dead, except for immediate relatives; they are not to shave their head or beards, or scar themselves, as a sign of mourning. As they are the ones to make the sacrifices to YHVH, they also must be ritually pure. It is a capital offense for a priest’s daughter to make a harlot of herself. His wife must be a virgin. Handicapped priests cannot serve in the sanctuary. Priests who are temporarily unclean (such as lepers who are cured) have to wait until night to be pure enough to serve in the sanctuary. Members of the priest’s household can share in the offerings that can be eaten. Only healthy animals can be used for sacrifices. An animal for sacrifice must be older than a week; a mother animal and its young cannot be killed on the same day. The holidays are re-enumerated (the Sabbath, Passover, Counting the Sheaves (Omer), Feast of Weeks (Shavuoth), Remembrance of the Blowing of the Rams Horn (Rosh Hashonah), Day of Atonements [sic] (Yom Kippur), Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth). The menorah is to be lit with pure olive oil from evening until morning. The show breads (two rows with six breads in each), are placed on the show table every Sabbath. A blasphemer is put in jail until he can be stoned to death. The Lex Talionis (“eye for an eye”) is repeated. The Hebrew and the sojourner are held to the same laws.