Thursday, April 4, 2013


Shemini

Leviticus 9:1 through 11:47

     Six days of work, one day of worship to complete the Week of creation and dedicate those six days to Adonai.

     Seven days of installation of the priests.  The eighth day was a whole new level, based upon the prior seven.  HaShem had brought down His glory to man and now it was their turn to start. 

     In the entertainment industry, when the opening act performs flawlessly, it is said that they are a tough act to follow.  in G-d's world however, there is no comparison, no show, merely the seeking of His face, the doing of His will. There are distinct guidelines to follow, that the needs of all may be met. 

     After the Shekinah consumed the offering, the sons of Aharon -- Nadav and Abihu got caught up in the moment (offering incense improperly), and paid a terrible price -- their lives were stopped short in front of everybody.

     Many would speculate the cause, and even the effect of their actions.  Cited causes have included disrespect for Mosheh's teaching, not living pure lives, drinking / working under the influence, getting caught up / careless with details, doing it wrong / not up to standards.  The single reason, making the most sense as a given cause, is the direct, deliberate, purposeful use of strange fire -- they did it their way.

     Some scholars would say that -- in the instant before the fire consumed the boys -- G-d explained His joy in their spirited and creative worship toward Him, and of His need th take them Home, because of Israel's inability to understand.

     Aharon was ordered by HaShem to take neither the time nor the actions to grieve for the boys (his sons), but rather continue with the service of the tabernacle.  The joy of the Shekinah -- G-d's Glory/Presence with Israel was a much bigger picture than the loss of his own sons. Aharon felt it was hypocritical to "eat the sacrifice with joy", he ordered his portion to be included with the burned portion.  Mosheh felt Aharon was wrong, but accepted his brother's decision.

     After the discourse regarding acceptable sacrifices and unacceptable ones. The Scriptures turn to e subject of food, for just as activities are fit (kosher) or not, food also follows.  We are once again given two categories -- tahor (clean/fit) and tamei (unclean/unfit).  Animals are divided into four basic categories: land animals, sea creatures, fowls, and insects.  The Scriptures give a list of regulations and examples from these categories.

     The pig seems to be the universal symbol for things unkosher.  It has been suggested that the pig's biggest draw, is that it appears kosher on the outside.  But appearances are just that -- how things appear. Tamei/unkosher animals are not dishonorable in their existence (. . . and G-d saw that it was good), nor are they contaminating in their life.  The rules -- not man's invention, but G-d's direct declaration -- come into play upon the death / consumption of the animal.

     When scientists studied various animals, it was discovered that even though monkeys appear to be the closest branch to humans, the pig's digestive track is very much closer to man's -- a reminder that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Let us re-examine the statement about the pig's place on the list. They are on the list because they do not chew the cud.  Animals that chew cud (ruminate) are taking the time to process their food in order to get the most benefit from it. Pigs, like humans, have a simple, single-stomach digestive track. Biologically, it is not possible for either to ruminate.

     Spiritually, we can take in the Word and get some benefit, but if we follow the examples of cows, goats, etc., and ruminate, we get much more benefit.  

David expresses this thought in Psalm 119 Section Mem: 
     "How I love your Torah!  
      I meditate omit all day.
      I am wiser than my foes, 
      Because Your mitzvot are mine forever. 
      I have more understanding than all my teachers, 
      Because I meditate on Your instructions."

 
Shabbat Shalom!

 

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