Parsha by the Rivk
April 13, 2018
Shimini- on the eighth day
*The first half of the parsha starts-
This was the 8 th day of the inaugural ceremony.
Offerings were being brought by the priests.
2 of Aarons son’s Nadav and Avihu did something incorrect in their bringing of an offering and were immediately killed- (various sages argue as to what the sin they committed was – they may have brought unauthorized fire, entered the holy of holies without Gd’s permission, approached drunk, not respected Aaron and Moses in some way etc. ).
Aaron and his sons had to go on serving right away even though they suffered this loss.
*The second half of the parsha discusses rules of eating kosher animals.
Why are these 2 sections joined:
The question arises why the laws of kosher are addressed here suddenly, when the parsha is more about the food of the offerings?
The food we take in physically is not just a physical pursuit. When food is kosher it has a spiritual affect on us. That’s one reason we feed babies kosher even though they don’t know the difference and they can’t learn anything by eating it. But it shapes them spiritually.
So we see that just as with an offering/a korban, a word that has the root karov =close, because we grow we grow closer to our maker when we offer it. So too, through the food we ingest we grow closer to our creator. Even, without offerings today, just eating kosher we grow in spirituality. And furthermore when we say prayers over food we elevate it from physicality to a connection to Gd.
What are some other lessons for us in this parsha.
Language has messages:
First it begins ….
And it was= “vayihee” …. What does that teach us? Talmud Megillah 10b teaches us that when a part of the torah begins with this word it is an omen something sorrowful lies ahead. In the book of Ruth famine was on its way. In Esther the threat to the survival of the Jews was about to occur. What was happening here. The parsha starts without mention that Gd called to Moses. So what? Usually that’s how the parsha begins. It hints that somehow Gd was pushed out of the picture- the sons of Aaron were about to mess up amd disconnect from Gd somehow.
It seems harsh that these to Great people were so swiftly killed. We are stunned. It seems greater people are held to greater standards.
Aaron as a model for us:
When the tragedy took place it says “and Aaron remained silent”10:3 . He did not question Gd as to the tragic end for his sons. Just as most people do not ask why when the good befalls them, he did not ask why when the hardship befell him. For Aaron his faith was in Gd and his ways. The strength this can give a person to survive and thrive in this universe is amazing. May Aaron be a role model for us all.
Ask your mentors:
Rabbi Morechai Kaminetsky points out that whatever the sin of Nadav and Avihu was, they seemed to have the right intentions but their actions lacked guidance. This is an important message. We should not feel too big or overly confident that we do not turn to others who can offer us insights and guidance in the paths we should pursue.
What does Kosher do for us:
The Ramchal points out that when it talks about eating kosher animals and warns against eating Tamai /impure (defiled food) it repeats the word impure without the letter Alef. 11:43. ” “And don’t defile yourself with them and become defiled”. What might this be hinting at? The word defiled/ “vinitmatim”without the Alef can also have the meaning “sealed off. It is teaching that when you eat this food that is spiritually inferior, it somehow seals you off from a spiritually more healthy place. Just as food with a trace of something physically unhealthy seals you off from a more physically healthy place.
Notice too that absence of the aleph which often stands for Elokim /Gd also is hinting at the same message, that less spiritually pure food makes Gd’s presence more hazy.
Further, the Ramcahl points out that we are forbidden in 11:44–45 “to defile our souls by eating creatures that swarm on the ground”. And that Gd took us out of Enypt to avoid this and be close to him. What is this communicating to us?
We don’t want to be pulled down to lowly places as creatures on the ground are. Gd took us out of Egypt to be an elevated nation.
The overall message is be aware that how you behave and what you do has ramifications on many levels. We do not just live in a unidimensional world. We may be more attuned to what our eyes can see or our bodies can consciously experience but the world has many unobservable phenomena. Just as we don’t see what powers up a cell phone or the radio waves in the atmosphere, we do not see spiritual dimensions. But they are present and do affect us.
Aaron was silent, he was accepting. Or maybe he knew, on his level, there was no question!
Have an awesome shabbat
Sincerely, Rivki Rosenwald
Candle lighting in New York is 7:14