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Parshat Emor

By: Marcelle Breitbart, Great Neck, NY

Many of us may find it difficult to relate to this week's parsha, Parshat Emor, because it mostly speaks about korbanot, which are no longer commonplace in our day and age. However, at the very end of the parsha, we encounter a short narrative that is seemingly out of context. After many perakim dealing exclusively with laws, at the end of perek 24, the Torah suddenly delves into the personal story of an unnamed man whose father is a non- Jewish Mitzri, while his mother is Jewish, specifically from Shevet Dan. The pesukim describe how this man gets into a fight with another man, which ultimately leads him to curse Hashem.

Turning to Rashi for an explanation of this apparently "random" story, we begin to learn its purpose, and recognize how it may not be as arbitrary as we thought at first glance. Since the story begins with the word "Va'yeitzeh" (he went out), Rashi asks instinctively, from where did this man leave? One of Rashi's answers is that this man was exiting from the Beit Din of Moshe. While the Torah does not give this man's name, it does specify that his mother was from Shevet Dan, and so this fact must play an important role in the story. The reason he was in this Beit Din, explains Rashi, is that he wanted to set up camp in Shevet Dan, the Shevet his mother, his only Jewish link, was a part of. However, his father as mentioned earlier was not Jewish and had no place in any Shevet in Am Yisrael. Since one's shevet is determined based on one's father, this man was not welcome in Shevet Dan because he technically did not belong there.

Rashi goes on to explain that this man pleaded his case in the Beit Din, but the court determined that he did not in fact belong among Shevet Dan, as his father was a Mitzri. After the court case, feeling a sense loneliness and with a defeated morale, one can only try to imagine how frustrated this man must have felt. This defeated man was a member of Klal Yisrael, but had no place among any particular Shevet. He had nowhere to turn to and nowhere to belong. Now the story begins to take shape, and understanding why this man got into a fight with another Jewish man becomes clear. The Jewish man clearly did not catch this unnamed man at a good time as it was after his court case. In fact, according to Rashi, their fight was over where this half-Egyptian half-Israelite man could pitch his tent. As the two men fought, the unnamed man curses Hashem's name, potentially out of frustration from his lost case, as well as a sense of helplessness and isolation.

This man felt such a sense of loneliness as he didn't belong anywhere and had nowhere to go. It led him to such an extreme where he ends up cursing Hashem because of those feelings and frustrations.

This story suddenly becomes relatable, especially to Midreshet Amit. Every day we work on doing chessed for the children of Beit Hayeled. Each child comes from a difficult situation, and may come to AMIT Beit Hayeled feeling lonely, frustrated, or with the sense like the unnamed man, that they too have nowhere to turn, no place where they belong. Midreshet AMIT takes these children under their wing and makes them feel welcome. We give them friendship, love, and most of all a safe place they can call home.I would like to thank Mrs. Dena Knoll for all of her help in learning and writing this Dvar Torah with me!