Holy Daughter, Sister, Mother (Emor)

Holy Daughter, Sister, Mother (Emor)

Other things may change us, but we start and end with family. -Anthony Brandt

Daughter Sister Mother

The Torah portion of Emor discusses the roles and rules regarding the Kohen, the newly formed priestly caste of Israel. It also highlights some of the guidelines relating to the High Priest, the Kohen Gadol.

The Bat Ayin on Leviticus 21:10 delves into the Talmudic statement (Tractate Horayot 9a) that “if the Kohen Gadol doesn’t have anything, he is to be aggrandized.” The Talmud expounds the statement as instructing that if the Kohen Gadol is poor, his Kohen brethren contribute funds to him until he can be considered financially wealthy. However, the Bat Ayin reads another aspect into the Talmud’s explanation.

He elaborates that when the Talmud states that the Kohen Gadol doesn’t have anything, it can also mean that he has no arrogance, and that rather he is fully possessed of the trait of humility. If the Kohen Gadol is indeed a humble servant, then he reaches a higher level of service than his brothers.

The Bat Ayin further develops that there are three general levels in one’s possible connection to God: “daughter,” “sister,” and “mother.”

The simplest level is that of “daughter” and it is founded on the trait of awe and fear of God. The middle level is one of “sister” that is predicated on love of God and is the level of Israel and the Kohens. The highest level is the level of “mother,” and it is one of divine bounty and transcendence and is represented by the Kohen Gadol, who due to his great humility serves as a conduit for abundance and holiness from above that reaches all of Israel.

May we appreciate the different levels of relationship with God, whether it’s daughter, sister, or mother, and may we build from awe of God, to love of God and finally to divine abundance and transcendence.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the Mizrahi organization for their extremely successful inaugural World Orthodox Israel Congress.

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