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Shemini • 5775 • שמיני
On the very first day after the week of celebration that consecrated Aaron and his sons as the Priests, the newly installed Priesthood are commanded to bring their first sacrifices: a sin-offering and a burnt offering for themselves, as well as a sin-offering and burnt-offering for the Israelites. Aaron brings the meal offerings and the Peace offerings complete with the myriad of ritual wavings, blood dashings, and fat burnings as commanded in earlier chapters of Leviticus. Afterwards, Aaron blesses the People with the Kohen Benediction, and G-d’s presence rested upon all Israel. The fire to consume these sacrifices came directly from G-d, which was so startling that the people fell and trembled before G-d. Nadav and Avihu, Aaron’s two eldest sons, commit a most grievous sin and G-d executes them. Aaron and his family are forbidden to mourn them. The Priests are warned never to attempt to officiate their office when intoxicated. The place of eating the various offerings and sacrifices are given by G-d through Moses. The breasts of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offerings were to be eaten in a “clean place.”
Moses severely rebukes Eleazar and Itamar, the officiating sons of Aaron, for not eating the sin-offering. Aaron defends their actions as an act of piety and humility. So appropriate their motives that Moses was more than satisfied. The permitted kosher animals are enumerated here. Land animals must have split hooves and chew their cud, fish must have fins and scales. Fowl cannot be predators or carrion eaters, insects must have jointed legs above the feet.
Furthermore, the dead carcasses of these animals impart ritual impurity to those who touch them. If the carcass (or any part thereof) falls into an earthen pot with kosher food, the pot must be broken and the food not eaten. Water can transfer this impurity. If the volume of water is great (in excess of 24 cubic feet) and naturally collected, a forbidden carcass does not affect it. These laws are to make the Israelites holy.
MAFTIR Leviticus 11:45-47 ~ page 454
HAFTARAH Machar Chodesh I Samuel 20:18-42 ~ p 948
Parashah Study Questions
- What parashah is read in Israel this Shabbat? Why? What do Americans visiting Israel read this weekend?
- How many times were the people blessed (v. 9:22 and 23)? What is going on here?
- According to v. 10:6, can one appoint a shaliach mitzvah for mourning? Can you hire someone to sit shiva for you?
- Are cows born with multiple legs kosher (11:42)?