[Rabbi Shimon continued his discourse with the verse:] "Neither shall he profane his seed among his people, for I, G‑d, do sanctify him." (Lev. 21:15) Come and see: whoever emits semen in vain is not worthy of beholding the face of the Shechinah and is considered evil as written, "For You are not a G‑d that has pleasure in wickedness; nor shall evil dwell with You." (Psalms 5:5) This is [referring to] one who emits it by hand or in a woman who is inappropriate for him [to marry]. You may argue also one who emits it within a woman who does not conceive. This is not so [for supernally there is caused a unification at the source between Zeir Anpin and Nukva even if the woman does not conceive] but only those we mentioned.

A man should therefore ask G‑d to summon him a worthy vessel so as not to blemish his seed. Whoever emits his seed in an unworthy vessel blemishes his seed. Woe to him who causes damage in his seed. And if this is true for other people, all the more so to a priest that is below as a likeness of Above in utmost holiness.

What is the meaning of "among his people," seeing that it is written before, "A widow, or a divorced woman, or a profaned, or a harlot, these shall he not take" (Lev. 21:14) and "Neither shall he profane his seed among his people." It should have said, 'among them' [i.e. the kohen and that unworthy woman]. Why "among his people"? This would be causing a disgrace among his people, a blemish among his people. Hence it is written, "he [the High Priest] shall take a virgin of his own people for a wife," "of his own people" truly [that she be worthy and of as fine a family as he]. Everything is in the likeness of Above, "for I, G‑d do sanctify him." What does "sanctify him" [in present tense] mean? It is I who daily sanctifies him. Hence he must not blemish his seed and no blemish must be in him, "for I, G‑d do sanctify him [constantly]" as I wish to sanctify him [by resting My Shechinah upon him] so that he shall be sanctified in every respect and so that the holy will be served by that which is holy.

Come and see, G‑d is served by the priest, who shall be found holy when he comes to serve. And since G‑d is served by the priest who is holy, the latter will be helped by a pure man who is sanctified by his purity. And who is he? [These are] the Levites. Another will be served by another holy man so they will all be found in holiness to serve G‑d. Worthy are Israel in this world and in the World to Come, as written of them, "and I have separated you from the peoples that you should be Mine." (Lev. 20:26) Israel are separated by holiness in every respect to serve G‑d. This is the meaning of, "Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the L-rd your G‑d." (Ibid. 20:7)

He opened [his discourse] again and said, "Salvation belongs to G‑d; Your blessings be upon Your people. Selah" (Psalms 3:9) "Salvation belongs to G‑d": we have so learned, worthy are Israel, for wherever they were exiled, the Shechinah went into exile with them. When Israel will come out of exile, whose salvation shall this be, that of Israel or of G‑d? We have explained it in relation to several verses. Here, "Salvation belongs to G‑d" surely. When will that be? When "Your blessings be upon Your people." When G‑d cares for Israel with blessings so as to take them out of exile and benefit them, then "Salvation belongs to G‑d [truly]" We therefore learned that G‑d's Presence will return from exile with Israel. This is the meaning of, "then the L-rd your G‑d will return [with] your captivity, and have compassion upon you." (Deut. 30:3)

BeRahamim LeHayyim: What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed right now?
The perils of masturbation as well as intermarriage are again reiterated by the Zohar. Priests/Kohanim have a even higher standard of holy behavior to comport with. The priest's job is to help us with holiness, to bring us to higher aspirations. But even here in exile we are promised that the Shechinah will be with us. We must therefore be constantly aware of Its holy presence among us and behave accordingly.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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