Parsha Emor starts with a פסוק that can teach us a very valuable lesson. The פסוק goes as follows: “וַיֹּאמֶר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה אֱמֹר אֶל הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם לְנֶפֶשׁ לֹא יִטַּמָּא בְּעַמָּיו – Hashem said to Moshe say to the Kohanim, the sons of Aaron, and tell them no one may become impure from a dead person among his people…” Many גדולים ask why it uses a double language via using the words “say” and “tell.” Can you say something to a group of people without telling them?
Rashi answers this question by explaining that ‘ה commanded Moshe to tell the adult kohanim to teacher their children the halachot that apply to a kohen. Chazal takes this a step further saying this is not only to teach us that a kohen must educate his children, but all Jewish parents have an obligation to educate their children with the halachot that apply to them. Kohanim, levim and yisraelim are all required in this!
However, if ‘ה wanted us to learn out this obligation why is it written here by טמא מת? Isn’t there a more appropriate place we could learn this from? Why say this near a mitzvah that only applies to a small percentage of בני ישראל? In this parsha we read of the mitzvot related to yom tovim, why not extrapolate the obligation of chinuch from there?
Rav Yaakov Weinberg states that the above פסוק is actually the most appropriate place to give a parent the obligation of chinuch. A kohen has to parent his child in a specific manor. This is to assure that his child is not turned off to Judiasim, due to the fact that other Jewish kids (levim and yisraelim) can do things that a kohen may not. The most restrictive parents are those who receive the most complaints and rebelious acts from their children. In the times of the בית המקדש the most restictive parents were the kohanim and yet they suceeded in parenting. There is a lot we could learn from the parenting of kohanim. The kohanim were not restrictive to their children to be cruel, however they were simply aware of their childrens special status as a kohen and wanted them to appreciate it!
Every Jewish parent can see the value in this. Simply educating a child in halacha and saying “this is אסור…that is not allowed” will not leave a good impression on a child. However, looking deeper with a child and explaining their special role in this world will truly excite them as they approach Torah and halacha! We can learn a similar idea in פרק כג פסוק טו when we read about counting the omer. The פסוק tells us וספרתם לכם” – And you shall count yourslef.” The ramban learns out from this that each individual must count every one of the days seperatly and out loud. This is to excite us and mentally prepare us for the amazing holiday in which we received the Torah. When a parent educates a child using the lessons from the kohanim their child should be over joyed and excited for shavuos and our receiving of the Torah. May we all merit to be able to follow in the ways of the kohanim and the ways in which they educate their children!
Girl Studying in Tiferet