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Emor

“The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name in blasphemy, and he was brought to Moses. Now his mother’s name was Shelomith daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan” Leviticus 24:10-11

    What is fabulous and interesting in the Torah is when the Midrash fills in the blanks and, in the case of the blasphemer, the midrashim seem to go into overdrive. 

    The blasphemer is a man who curses God and ends up being stoned to death for his sin. Who is he? Why do we need to know of his parentage? Who is his mother and why does the Torah tell us her name? 

    From piecing together various elements from the Midrash and the Zohar and comparing sentence structure, what follows is the possible back story. 

    Let us go back to Egypt. An Egyptian taskmaster sees the wife of the Hebrew overseer and returns later in the day and rapes the woman. The Hebrew man is identified as Dathan (one half of the trouble-making duo Dathan and Abiram) and his wife who is raped is Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. 

    The blasphemer is the progeny of this rape. The taskmaster is caught by Dathan. In order to hide his crime, he starts to beat Dathan. Just before the final blow, Moses happened upon the two men and kills the Egyptian taskmaster. 

    Years have passed since the incident in Egypt and the children of Israel were busy pitching their tents in the desert. The son of Shelomith and the Egyptian taskmaster goes to set up his tent among the people of Dan. As he is going about his business, another man calls him out about his parentage and challenges his right to pitch his tent among his mother’s people. 

    The incident ends with the blasphemer cursing the other man with the sacred name of God. The question remains; surely we should feel sorry for the blasphemer. He is a victim of circumstance, not one who should be stoned to death. And yet, he is stoned. The blasphemer was among those who witnessed the plagues, crossed the Reed Sea, enjoyed manna in the desert and received the Torah at Sinai. 

    Yet, what he took away from that was not how to use that holiness to better his situation, but instead he used God’s holiest of names to profane and curse a fellow man. 

    In our lives, we choose whether we will use the positive or the negative nature of all of God’s blessings — the blasphemer is a lesson in positive choices in the face of negative circumstances.
     

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