Parash 26 Sh’mini (eighth) Vayikra/Leviticus 9:1 –11:47
TORAH LESSON – This torah portion begins with Moshe giving Aharon and his sons the Lord’s commandments regarding the preparations before the Adonai glory was revealed to the people. The first thing to be done was for Aharon and his sons to offer sacrifices for their own sins and to offer peace offerings for themselves. Then the priests had to make offerings for the people. The offerings were made as follows: the sin offering, the burnt offering, then the peace offerings. Then Aharon prayed a blessing over the people. Moshe and Aharon then went inside the Tabernacle. When they came out of the tent, they blessed the people. The Adonai’s glory was revealed to the people. Then fire came forth from before Adonai and consumed the burnt offering on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted praises and threw themselves on their faces to the ground.
Immediately after this very humbling experience, the account tells us that two of Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu offered fire and incense offerings which were not sanctioned by Adonai. Fire then came from before Adonai and consumed both of the men. Relatives were commanded to remove their bodies from the sanctuary. The Israelites were commanded to mourn for the men. However, Aharon and his remaining sons were not permitted to cut their hair, rent their garments or to leave the Communion Tent because they still had the Lord’s anointing oil on them. If they disobeyed they would bring divine wrath on the community and they would have died.
Adonai commanded Aharon and his remaining sons never to drink alcohol before entering the tabernacle. The alcohol could affect their judgment; therefore, it would be an eternal commandment to ensure that they would always be able to correctly distinguish between clean and unclean, holy and common.
Adonai gave Moshe and Aharon specific dietary laws. The camel, the hare, and the pig were named unclean. All water animals with fins or scales were named clean. Many different types of birds were named unclean. Most flying insects were named unclean. All animals with paws were named unclean. The Lord commanded that anyone touching any dead carcass would remain ceremonially unclean.
Adonai prescribed that anyone declared unclean in this way had to be immersed in water and remain unclean until evening. The Lord commanded that because He is holy, the people must also be holy. The people were to use these laws to help them distinguish between clean and unclean.