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    Big things & little things – Emor

    The Chatam Sofer

    Extra words have extra meanings – that is a fundamental principle of Torah interpretation.

    If a verse says more than appears necessary, there must be a reason.

    Look at the beginning of this week’s reading, “Speak to the kohanim and say to them” (Lev. 21:1).

    According to Ibn Ezra there is a double duty: to speak to the priests, and to explain the purpose of what is being said.

    Rashi says, “The verse tells the elders to warn the young people (to carry out the commands given here)”.

    The Chatam Sofer thinks the key to understanding Rashi comes in the words which are usually translated “the elders” and “the young”. In Hebrew they are g’dolim and k’tanim – literally, “the great” and “the small”.

    Since the context is how to mourn for the dead, we must know the difference between big and small things in time of bereavement.

    People tend to be concerned with a big impressive funeral, a big impressive tombstone, and big outward show in other respects.

    These details have their place, but there are other issues that may be even more important, such as looking after the surviving family and making sure they are able to cope.

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