Sefer Vayikra has three portions named after a form of speech

In Kiddushin, Rav says that one of the ways to look into yuchsin, to see if a family is pure, is to see if they’re silent and stay away from machloket.

Steven Genack

Judaism Talking Peace Session
Talking Peace Session
Sefer Vayikra has three parshiot named after a type of speech; Vayikra, Tzav and Emor. The first Rashi on Vayikra gives us a framework by how to understand the functioning of these terms (including dibbur). Rashi says every time it ever says vayidabertzav or emorvayikra a term of love always preceded these callings. This speaks of the loving relationship between Moshe and G-d as G-d always prefaced a calling of affection to Moshe before entering any other form of speech.

This being the case, we still need to attain the meanings of the words vayidabertzav and emor and examine their placement frequency. Tzav doesn't need much explanation as its definition is command. The plain meaning speaks for itself. Vayidaber has a bit more innuendo but we know it symbolizes din. We are left therefore with emor of our parsha.

Before delving into its implications, two questions should be asked. First, the beginning of parshat Vayikra has mixed in with it the words daber and emor.Pasha tzav has mixed in with it dibbur (and implicitly vayikra). However, parsha Emor begins with three amira's with no mention of dibbur or tzav. Why did parshat Emor receive this distinction of receiving a "triple amira?" Second, Tzav starts by saying to command Aharon and his sons whereas in Emor it says to say to the kohanim, the sons of Aharon. Why originally are only Aharon and his sons singled out as opposed to the second case where the kohanim are mentioned as a whole?

When investigating kohanic history, one will always be moved by the Nadav and Avihu incident, as they were identified by Moshe as closer to G-d than him and Aharon. Even more extraordinary was Aharon’s response to the news of the demise of his sons. The Torah testifies that he was quiet. Rashi on the spot says that such a response motivated G-d to speak personally to Aharon in the next section for such a seemingly impossible act of faith. 

We know that Chazal say whoever is maavir on his middos is forgiven for all his sins. In this one event Aharon lived this saying to the utmost. He was quiet on the heels of an unimaginable loss. He didn't question G-d and it may be said Aharon lived up to his essence and became the iconic figure of one who receives the ultimate mechila and kapara, which implanted in the kohanim the ability to achieve mechila and kapara for all of klal Yisroel’s sins in the future. 

Returning to the “triple amira” and the reversal in language, since the first topic of Emor discusses the topic regarding who the kohanim can become metameto, this was a highly sensitive matter as it reminds one of the Nadav and Avihu situation where Aharon himself would have had to invoke these laws if not for the special dispensation that he received from Moshe to refrain from mourning as he was told not to interrupt the service during the inauguration of the Mishkan

Therefore, the passive and loving speech of emor is used, in tune with how the Netziv understands the word amira in the statement that “The world was created with ten maamarot” (Bereishit Rabba 17:1), and maamarot from the word amira indicates a language of rachamim (as opposed to the Asara Ha’Dibros that was a language of din).  

Now, we can understand also why Emor stresses the kohnaim as a group. In EmorAharon’s legacy is fully created. He stands for something much greater than himself. He has transformed the kohanic tribe into a class that stands for mechila and kapara. Therefore, Emor addresses the wider group. In Tzav,Aharon was still an individual engaged in a mission and a personal journey.

In KiddushinRav says that one of the ways to look into yuchsin, to see if a family is pure, is to see if they’re silent and stay away from machloketAharon not only stayed away from machloket but he was an ohev shalom and rodeph shalom which means he had to be someone who was maavir on his middos, for is there a man that can involve himself in other people's matters to achieve peace that will not endure repudiation? Aharon’s silence speaks to his purity and the creation of a legacy that could achieve mechila and kapara for all of klal Yisroel.