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Parshat Emor: The Blasphemer: Asking for Shelter, Invoking Destruction

05/13/2024 09:00:56 AM


Rabbi Rudin


Parshat Emor features one of the most disturbing incidents of the Torah: a young man, born to an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father, seeks entry into the tribal encampment of Dan, his mother’s tribe.  When he is rejected, he appeals to the Beit Din, the court of Moses himself.  Once again, he is told that his lineage is tainted and that while he is welcome to take his place in the mixed multitude that accompanies the Israelites, he has no place in the Camp of Dan.


In rage, he pronounces a curse against G-d.  The Name that he and all of the others heard at Sinai.  He is immediately detained, put on trial for blasphemy and since his curse was heard publicly following a warning, he is executed.


The pathos of this tragedy echoes to us.  Invoking the name of the G-d of the universe who liberated us from Egypt, we can hear the blasphemer’s sense of betrayal and indignation.  Yes, there must be boundaries in any society, but was there no room in the camp for a lost soul, stuck between two worlds?  The act of cursing the G-d of Israel is a rejection and a profound mark of disrespect which, in that generation, could not be forgiven.  But did it have to happen that way?


Perhaps the curse of the blasphemer, disowned and rejected, was the reason that the tribe of Dan never found a tribal territory in the Land of Israel? 


To be the children of Abraham, our tent must, like his, be open at all sides.  This does not mean that we allow ourselves to be influenced by foreign ways and values but rather that while we respect and honor others, we stay true to ourselves; and the truth of our nation is to welcome the stranger, the dispossessed, the lost. 


Thu, June 20 2024 14 Sivan 5784