Learning Group– Parshat Shmini
(Leviticus: 9:1- 11:47)
(Haftara: Yechezkel 36, 16-38)
- 1. [10:2] “And a fire went out from before God…” Nadav and Avihu were killed because they were closer to God and therefore were held to a higher standard than the regular people. Moshe was not allowed to enter Israel for the same reason. Is this fair? Shouldn’t those who serve God more, be rewarded rather than punished?
- 2. [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?
- 3. [10:6] When we mourn for a close relative, we tear our clothes and we don’t cut our hair. Aharon and his sons were told not to grow their hair long and not to tear their clothing. Shouldn’t our mourning be a natural expression of our emotion? Why should there be laws of mourning? On the other hand, why shouldn’t the priestly class be allowed to express their emotions in a physical way like every other Israelite?
- 4. [Parshat Parah: Bamidbar 19:11] “Whoever touches a dead body…shall be impure for 7 days.” What is “tumah”—spiritual impurity, and why should a person who touches a dead human body be impure?
- 5. [Haftara: Yechezkel 36:26] “…I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh.” God was complaining that the Jews are involved in idolatry. How will acquiring a “heart of flesh” cause the Jews to give up idolatry?
[9:1] “And it was [Vayehi] the eighth day…”
Wherever the Torah says “vayehi”, it means something bad or painful. What is painful about setting up the mishkan (the Temple) in the desert?
The answer is that the existence of the mishkan itself is a painful fact. At first, God wanted His mishkan to be built in the heart of every Jew. However, after the sin of the golden calf, He was forced to limit His dwelling-place in this world to a physical tent.
–R. Yisrael of Rizhin, 1797-1850.
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