Parsha Shemini – 5777

Parshat Shemini In-Depth

“It came to pass on the eighth day (Leviticus 9:1)

That day took ten crowns: It was the first day of creation (i.e., a Sunday), the first for the offerings of the nesi’im (tribal heads), the first for the priesthood, the first for [public] sacrifice, the first for the fall of fire from heaven, the first for the eating of sacred food, the first for the dwelling of the Divine Presence in Israel, the first for the priestly blessing of Israel, the first day on which it was forbidden to sacrifice to G‑d anywhere but in the Sanctuary, and the first of months. (Talmud, Shabbat 87b)

That day was as joyous to G‑d as the day on which heaven and earth were created. (Talmud, Megillah 10b)”

Torah Sparks: Shemini 5777

“In this week’s sedra we find the strange episode of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, who apparently made some kind of sacrifice using what the Torah calls eish zara – “strange fire” (Lev. 10:1). We are told that the manner in which this sacrifice was offered broke God’s rules and, as a result, Nadav and Avihu were themselves summarily executed, ‘consumed by fire which came forth from the Lord (10:2).'”

You Are What You Eat: The New World of Kosher Food

“Thousands of years before the 19th-century saying, “you are what you eat” came into being, Judaism recognized the essential significance of food in the Jewish and human experience. Originally, without explaining “why” we should eat some, but not all types of different foods, the Torah in this week’s portion, Sh’mini (Leviticus 11), laid down a lengthy list of culinary dos and don’ts, the textual foundation of kashrut, Jewish dietary practice and law. Subsequently, the laws of kashrut were greatly expanded by the Rabbis to include food preparation in general and, especially, on the Sabbath, the full separation of milk and meat products, methods of slaughter, and a whole range of food regulations during Passover.”

Strange Fire: A Midrash

“The time had finally arrived. The animals had been slaughtered exactly as God had commanded. They had been placed on the altar. Now they had only to wait.

Aaron, the High Priest, and his sons Elazar, Ithamar, Nadav and Avihu had followed God’s instructions as relayed to them through Aaron’s brother Moses; now they were to see the results of their actions. For the first time they were making a sacrifice on behalf of the people in the newly dedicated Mishkan, the portable desert sanctuary.”

Haftarah Parshat Shemini

“Biblical stories are wont to remind us that nothing in life is uncomplicated. Triumph is frequently mixed with tragedy and joy with animosity. The haftarah opens with David’s attempt to return the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. This trek is marred by the tragic death of Uzza, who for some undetermined reason is struck down while trying to save the Ark from falling off the cart on which it was transported. When David finally accomplishes his mission and the Ark is brought to Jerusalem, he parades the Ark into the city with great fanfare, leading the tumultuous celebration himself with wild ecstatic dancing before the assembled crowds. This frenzied dancing infuriated David’s long abandoned wife, Michal, the daughter of Saul, David’s predecessor: “Michal, the daughter of Saul look out through the window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord, and she scorned him in her heart.” (6:16)”