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Parashat Shemini: Leviticus; Chapter 9 Verse 1 – Chapter 11 Verse 47

04/11/2018 11:38:39 AM

Apr11

General Overview: This week's Torah portion is a continuation of the previous week's reading, where we learned about the Tabernacle's seven-day inaugural ceremony. This week's reading opens on the eighth day, when G‑d's presence descends upon the Tabernacle. On that day, Aaron's sons Nadav and Avihu die when offering an uncalled-for incense sacrifice. The portion concludes with a discussion about the laws of Kosher consumption and ritual purity.

1st & 2nd Sections: The Parasha begins on the 1st of Nissan, 2449. The seven-day inauguration of Aaron and his sons was completed and the ceremonies for the Alter’s consecration had begun. Over 40 offerings would be brought on that first day, each requiring the direct ministrations of Aaron. Aaron blessed the nation with the standard priestly blessing after which Moshe and Aaron blessed the nation with the special blessing of Psalm 90.

3rd Section: The deaths of Nadav and Avihu are recorded at the very same time that fire descended from heaven to light the Alter. Their cousins removed the bodies of Nadav and Avihu from the courtyard of the Mishkan. Moshe instructs Aaron and his two remaining sons, Elazar and Itamar, that they are forbidden to overtly mourn the deaths of Nadav and Avihu in the standard manner. It is from here that we are taught the standard practices of tearing Kriyah and of mourners not cutting their hair.

4th& 5th Sections: Moshe instructs Aaron and his sons to continue the service of the Alter’s consecration. The first recorded difference in Torah Law rulings is recorded between Moshe and Aaron as it pertained to the eating of the Rosh Chodesh offering. (Note 16-20, Stone Edition ArtScroll pg. 595).

6th Section: The basic laws of Kosher and non-Kosher animals, fish, and fowl are recorded. Note that verses 11:4-7 is one of the established proofs for the Divine authorship of the Torah.

7th Section: The basic laws of purity and impurity are recorded. It is important to clarify that the Torah does not associate “Tummah” impurity and “Taharah” purity with good and bad. The entire process involves the concept of life and death and the symbolic emphasis that the Torah places on serving G-d with optimism and vigor. So long as there is life there is the opportunity to grow in our relationship with G-d.

The question of “Why are we commanded to keep Kosher?” is answered in 11:44-47. The Torah clearly states that the reason to keep Kosher is to emulate G-d’s sanctity. Sanctity “Kedusha” means being set apart and different. Just as G-d is apart from all things and divine in every way, so too are we to be set apart from all other nations and be different in the manner of our eating.

Haftara: Samuel 2; Chapter 6 Verse 1 – 19

Haftara Summary: This week's haftarah mentions how Uzzah was struck dead when he disrespectfully touched the Ark of the Covenant; reminiscent of Nadav and Avihu's death described in this week's Torah reading.

The Holy Ark had been in storage in the house of Avinadav for many years, ever since the destruction of the Tabernacle in Shiloh. Recently crowned, King David decided to move the Ark to the new capital, Jerusalem. He had the Ark placed on a cart and it was transported amidst singing and dancing. When the procession reached Goren Nachon, the oxen lost balance and Uzzah, Avinadav's son, took hold of the Ark to steady it—whereupon he was instantly killed. David was devastated, and he temporarily placed the Ark in the home of Oved-edom the Edomite, where it remained for three months.

"And it was told to King David saying: 'G‑d has blessed the house of Oved-edom, and all that belongs to him, because of the Ark of G‑d.' And David went and brought up the ark of G‑d from the house of Oved-edom into the City of David with joy." The Ark was brought up to the city of David with great singing and dancing. David then blessed and distributed presents to all the assembled Israelites.

Tue, July 17 2018 5 Av 5778