Parshat Shemini

Learning Group– Parshat Shmini

(Leviticus: 9:1- 11:47)

(Haftara: Shmuel II: 6:1-7:17)

(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 1)

1. [Vayikra: 10:3] “And Moshe said to Aharon, “This is what God meant when He said, ‘Through those who are close to Me, I will be made holy…and Aharon was silent’ “. Is Aharon silent because he was comforted, because he was angry or for some other reason. How can we understand Aharon’s silence?

2. [Haftara: Shmuel II, 6:14-16] “And David danced before God with all his strength…and Michal [his wife]…despised him in her heart”. If it was really undignified for David to dance like this, why did he do it? What does this show about a Jewish king?

3. (Sfirat Ha’omer) In many of our prayerbooks, there is a prayer after we count the omer in which we try to correct one personality trait on each one of the days of the counting. Why do we work on one character trait each day? Couldn’t this fragment our personalities? Wouldn’t it be better to see our personalities as a whole and, in general, work to become better people?

4. [Pirkay Avot 1:1] “…he passed it on to Yehoshua…” . [On each Shabbat between Pesach and Rosh Hashana there is a custom to read and learn one chapter of “The Ethics of the Fathers”. On this Shabbat, we begin with the first chapter. (It can be found in a regular Siddur after the afternoon service of Shabbat.) The first mishna tells us that the Torah is passed on from living person to living person. Why is it so important that our spiritual tradition is passed on from person to person, and not only through writings and ceremonies?

5. [Pirkay Avot, Chapter 1, Mishna 1] …”set up many students…” This is Beit Hillel’s opinion (Pirkay d’R. Eliezer), but Beit Shamai believes that one should teach only the best and not waste energy on the weaker students. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each opinion? Which do you agree with?


[Vayikra 9:6] “This is the thing which God commands you to do, and the glory of God will appear to you.”

The Torah, however, does not tell us what the “thing” is that one should do in order to see a revelation of the glory of God. The midrash (Yalkut) tells us that this is “THE thing”: one must remove from one’s heart the quality of hatred, resentment and argument. The midrash assures us that when one does this, then there will be a revelation of the glory of God.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer


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