Emor 5784


Priestly Parentage Problems and Prohibitions[1]

יאמר יקוק אל-משה אמר אל-הכהנים בני אהרן ואמרת אלהם לנפש לא-יטמא בעמיו: כי אם-לשארו הקרב אליו לאמו ולאביו ולבנו ולבתו ולאחיו: ולאחתו וגו’‏
Hashem said to Moshe: “Tell the Kohanim, the children of Aharon, and say to them: [The Kohen] shouldn’t contaminate himself by coming in contact with the dead in his nation. Except for his wife who is close to him, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, and his brother. His sister…”[2]

It’s well known that a Kohen cannot enter a cemetery, or fully attend a funeral. An exception is made for close relatives. What’s interesting is when the Torah lists the exceptions, it lists the Kohen’s mother first, and then his father. Usually, the Torah lists males before females. Why was the order switched in this case? Some suggest[3] a historical answer. While, thankfully, it’s not the case these days, but women used to have a much shorter life expectancy than men. Women would often die in childbirth, and they often had other health problems[4]. As such, a Kohen’s mother was more likely to die than his father. Therefore, the Torah lists her exception first, and only then the father’s.

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Acharei Mos 5784


The prohibition of a woman’s sister[1]

ואשה אל-אחתה לא תקח לצרר לגלות ערותה עליה בחייה
A woman, do not take her sister in marriage, to cause quarrelling, to reveal her nakedness upon her in her lifetime[2]

At the end of the parsha, we are taught a series of forbidden relationships, one of which is the prohibition of marrying one’s wife’s sister. However, the verse is expressed in a strange way. It says, “a woman, do not take her sister in marriage”. Now, the prohibition isn’t to marry any woman who is a sister. Only one’s wife’s sister. Why doesn’t it say don’t marry your wife’s sister? Or your sister-in-law?

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