The Portion of Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47)
| Published: March 26, 2021
This portion is a busy one. It details at length the special service Aaron and his four sons brought in the Tabernacle for the first time, following the seven day period of inauguration. It tells of the tragic demise of Aaron’s elder two sons, Nadab and Abihu, and what happens in the aftermath of their deaths. Finally, the portion closes with a lengthy explanation of the laws of permitted and forbidden animals for consumption, known as the Kosher laws.
Topic 1: Haftarah – Ascending the Temple Mount in Light of Uzza and King David
Within hours of Har Habayit falling into the hands of the IDF on the second day of the 1967 war, Israel Radio broadcasted a warning issued by Chief Rabbis Unterman and Nissim for Jews not to enter the Temple Mount because of its intrinsic holiness. IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, on the other hand, argued…
Topic 2: The Service of the Eighth Day
On the eighth day after the Tabernacle was first erected and Aaron and his four sons were anointed, the newly inaugurated priests begin offering the sacrificial service. The first offerings are special; Aaron brings a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for an elevation offering, while the Children of Israel bring a…
Topic 3: The Laws of Kosher Animals
This chapter lists the animals, birds and fish which the Torah deems Kosher or not Kosher. For some creatures, specific criteria are listed, while for others, acceptable and unacceptable species are identified with no explanation provided. Among the land animals, we are told that Kosher creatures must both have split hooves and chew their…
Topic 4: Tragedy Strikes
At the height of the celebrations of the first day of the Tabernacle service, Aaron’s two older sons, Nadab and Abihu, take it upon themselves to offer incense that is not part of the commanded service. God sends out a fire from before Him and consumes their souls. Moses offers comfort to his bereaved brother,…
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