Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller
Our Sages refer to Sefer VaYikra as “Toras Kohanim – The Laws of the Kohanim.” This is because large sections of this part of the Chumash deal with topics that involve the Kohanim, the sacrifices, ritual impurity, mitzvos that pertain specifically to Kohanim, and the laws of consecration of property that require the Kohain’s involvement. While this holds true for a large portion of the sefer, it isn’t true for many topics that are not specifically related to Kohanim. An example are the laws of kashrus which applies to all Jews equally.
In Parshas Emor this is very striking. The first half of the parsha deals with Kohain specific halacha; the second half deals with the holidays of the year. Is there a reason that the Torah placed these halachos in proximity to the ones that are relevant only to Kohanim?
An important Torah principle is that all Jews are Kohanim. We are expected to lead exalted lives and to be beacons of spirituality and service of Hashem. The Kohanim are expected to inspire us and be a reservoir that the laity can draw from. Hashem gave the entire nation the designation of “Mamleches Kohanim V’Goi Kadosh – a priestly kingdom and holy people.”
The general mitzvos that are distributed in these parshiyos such as kashrus, forbidden relationships, yomim tovim and others have the specific purpose of helping us maintain our level of holiness and priesthood. The restrictions on physical indulgence and the requirement to commune with Hashem with our family life on the holidays are keys to success in this important role that we all hold.
During these sefira days, we prepare ourselves to renew our commitment to the Torah and the Torah way of life. We should think about the exceptional role we are expected to play and make sure that our lifestyle is worthy of the label of “Kohanim v’goy kadosh.”