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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Vayiqra: Parashat Emor: Bat Kohen

Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi

"And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by becoming a harlot, she profaneth her father, she shall be burnt with fire." (21:9)

Why specifically does the Torah tell us that this girl profanes her father?
Is it not obvious that she causes shame to all that know her? What is the Torah trying to teach us?

Evil inclinations come to a person in one of two ways:
1. The inclinations are passed down through "inheritance" from one's parents
2. The inclinations are slowly grown on an individual level, as one decides to leave the righteous path.

When we examine each of these ways we see a key difference. As we know, the yeser ha'ra (evil inclinations) does not cause one to sin dramatically right away. The yeser ha'ra slowly plants seeds in one's mine and causes one to sin in small ways. Then, as time passes, the sins become greater and greater.
As our Rabbis say, "This is the method of the yeser ha'ra: today it tells you to do a little sin, and then tomorrow it tells you to do a slightly greater sin, until eventually it tells you to worship Avodah Zara (idolatry)."

If one has a strong evil inclination (or yeser ha'ra) through inheritance from one's parents, one is more likely to sin in a large fashion immediately, and skip all the small sins. The yeser ha'ra does not have to approach this individual in a roundabout way, but rather has the power to directly orchestrate a large scale sin.

This is why the Torah tells us, "And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by becoming a harlot..." - If she is capable of such a great time, at such an early time in her young life, it is a sign that the source is not solely from her yeser har'ra, but rather the strengths and core of her yeser ha'ra comes from her parents, as the verse says "she profaneth her father."

And so, what is the lesson to be learned?

Being involved with your children

Some Rabbis say that the Torah chose to say this message by a Kohen, for a specific reason. The Torah is hinting to those who act "holy" and spend their time entrenched in learning esoteric topics. They claim that they do not have time sit and teach their own children. Unfortunately, oftentimes the children seek for guidance elsewhere and begin a cycle downward.

The Torah is coming to teach those people that such a style of like does not lead to "holiness" but rather such neglect is nothing but a Hiloul Ha'shem- a desecration of God's Torah and name.

May Hashem give us all the strength to conquer our yeser ha'ra and grow, day to day, as unified God-fearing Jewish nation. Amen.
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