17/18 May: Emor : Shabbat comes in 8:35 pm, ends 9:49 pm
In Parashat Emor (chapter 22, verses 29 through to 33) we read a series of requests from God in great poetic form: “You should slaughter a Thanksgiving offering to God so that it is acceptable to you. It should be eaten on that day; don’t leave it until the morning. I am God. You should keep my commandments and do them. I am God. You should not desecrate My holy name. I will be sanctified among the children of Israel. I am God who sanctified you, the one who took you out of Mitzrayim to be a God to you, I am God.”
Presumably, the Thanksgiving offering relies on the idea that we have things in our lives for which we are grateful, and we direct that gratitude to God. However, the statement at the end of each of these verses is God’s version of “because I said so.” Ideally, the mitzvot that we perform are meaningful in our own lives as well independent of our relationship with God. But sometimes they are not, and this is sometimes difficult to accept.
At first glance, these requests, or demands, really, might turn one off when they are accompanied by God’s ‘because I said so’. There must be an understanding that God’s requests are not destructive or contrary to my own sense of morality. I believe that the real request through these few verses is not (only) to do the specific acts God mentions, but the imperative is actually to create a relationship with God. Since the foundation of Ani Adoshem is that we have a relationship, I think this text is trying to compel us to reach to God and establish the relationship on which these statements rely.
Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman