Parashat Shemini

A model of the Tabernacle stands in Timna Valley Park.

Parasha for the Week: Shmini: Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47.

Haftarah for the Week: 2 Samuel 6:1 - 7:17.

Besorat Yeshua: Romans 12:16 - 21.

Overview

On the eighth day of the dedication of the Mishkan, Aharon, his sons, and the entire nation bring various korbanot (offerings). Aharon and Moshe bless the nation.

G-d allows the Jewish people to sense His Presence after they complete the Mishkan.

Aharon's sons, Nadav and Avihu, offer strange fire before the Lord. A fire consumes them. Moshe consoles Aharon, who grieves in silence.

Moshe tells the kohanim that they must not drink intoxicating beverages when serving the Lord.

The Torah lists the two characteristics of a kosher mammal: It has split hooves, and it chews, regurgitates, and re-chews its food, such as cows and deer.

The Torah specifies non-kosher animals such as pigs, rabbits, and camels.

A kosher fish has fins and scales. Those not included in the list include sharks, dolphins, squid, octopus, and all shell fish such as lobsters, clams, and shrimp.

All birds are permitted except raptors such as owls, hawks, eagles, and vultures.

The Torah forbids all types of insects except for four species of locusts.

Details are given for purification when coming in contact with ritually-impure species.

Bnei Yisrael are commanded to be separate and holy -- like G-d.

Nadav and Avihu

"Nadav and Avihu, took his fire pan and offered before the Almighty strange fire, which He had not commanded them" (Leviticus 10:1).

Subsequently, a fire came down from Heaven and consumed them. Nadav and Avihu paid with their lives for their non-commanded service.

The commandment not to drink alcohol given right after this act indicates that the folly of their sin was brought on because they drank alcohol. Strange fire is any fire that did not come from the alter of burnt offering -- thus any coals that did not have the blood of the lamb on it.

Alcohol and G-d's Service

According to the Bible, priests have to abstain from drinking alcohol. As community of believers today we continue to follow this very good order from G-d. In fact the Mashiach has made us a kingdom of priests for God (Revelation 1:5-6). Our service is not in the Beth Hamikdash in Jerusalem any more, but is every day, everywhere, and at any time; that's why we should not drink any alcoholic beverage at any time, to be ready to witness and to serve Hashem.

You Shall Be Holy

The Torah states, "Sanctify yourselves and you shall be holy for I am holy" (Lev. 11:45). It is because God is holy that we become holy. As we invite Him into our hearts and minds, His holiness takes over our lives step by step, day by day. We become holy, our actions become holy -- little by little -- because our holy God is living in our hearts. We are able to fulfill His commandments because He empowers us to do so.

HAFTARAH 2 Samuel 6:1 - 7:17

Parasha: In the text of the parasha the L-rd wants to impress us to follow God as He commands us. Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer, put fire and incense in it, and offered unholy fire before the LORD, such as he had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the L-RD and consumed them, and they died before the L-RD (Leviticus 10:1-2).

Haftara: In the Haftara the people of Israel made a similar mistake as Nadab and Abihu. David went to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. The Ark of the Covenant was placed on a cart and pulled by oxen. The people went before it praising God. Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. God struck him there and he died there beside the ark of God (2 Samuel 6:5-7). Do we worship our Lord remembering that we are all standing before the creator of the universe? The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom three months; and the LORD blessed him and all his household (2 Samuel 6:11). Then David understood that he must perform the service of the L-rd following the Bible instructions. So David brought up the ark of the LORD in the proper manner, not on a cart pulled by oxen, but carried on the shoulders of the Levites (2 Samuel 6:15).

Besorat Yeshua Romans 12:16 - 21

Parasha: According to the text of the parasha, we must distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean; and we are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the LORD (Lev. 10:10-11).

Besorah: Romans 12:16-21 teaches us how to live for the Lord.

  • Live in harmony with one another;
  • Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;
  • Do not claim to be wiser than you are;
  • Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all;
  • So far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all;
  • Never avenge yourselves; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord;"
  • If your enemies are hungry, feed them;
  • If they are thirsty, give them something to drink;
  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good with the measure of faith God has given you (Romans 12:16-21).

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