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    Lineage – Emor

    The sidra begins, “Say to the kohanim the descendants of Aaron”.

    The definition of the kohanim as descending from Aaron seems too obvious to need iteration. We know who they are! We know their lineage! Why specify the obvious?

    Three answers:

    First, everyone should remember their origin; no-one is without a past.

    Second, remembering your lineage will guard you from sin: in the Torah, Joseph had a mental image of his father and recognised that he could not now commit a transgression.

    Third, if you have lineage you should make yourself worthy of it: your ancestors live in you. A great Jewish author was the child of a woman who refused to have an abortion but died in childbirth, and in later years the child’s father said to his son, “Be worthy of her sacrifice!”

    Yes, sometimes you wish you could throw off your ancestors and start with a clean slate, but life doesn’t allow that option. If the kohanim are descendants of Aaron they have to acknowledge their background.

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