valid HTML 4.01


Shemini (eighth)

Leviticus 9:1 to 11:47, Second Samuel 6:1 to 7:17


We are not told if Moses's statement, after the death of Nadav and Avihu, was something God had previously told Moshe or was a message from God specifically for that moment. In either case it doesn't offer consolation.

Bee-k-rovay eh'kadaysh v-al p'nei kol ha-am eh'kavayd
Among-ones-near-to-me I-will-be-made-holy and-on presence-of all the-people I-will-be-honored

The best translation seems: Among those near me I will be be made holy (set apart, sanctified), and in view of all people I will be made weighty (honored). (Some translations have "I will show myself holy" and "I will glorify myself" but the Hebrew verbs are not reflexive.)

Aharon's only previous action without Moshe was the golden calf. Now his sons, under his supervision, had this happen. So far Aharon's track record is not good. But he is properly humble, and is not punished by God for his lack of obedience with eating part of the sin offering.

"Aharon kept silent" (10:3) How much pain and anger and guilt he must have felt! It did come out in verse 10:19 when he spoke (shouted? The Hebrew is merely v'dabayr) even though Moshe had politely addressed El'azar and Itamar instead of Aharon directly. How good that the anger did come out instead of festering.

God is still picky about his people worshipping with an honest heart, even after Yeshua: see Acts 5 with Hananyah and Shappirah, and James 1:6-8.

Leviticus 9:22-23 contains the only two instances of blessing in Leviticus. Why did Aharaon and Moshe do these blessings? What does it mean that the book of scripture about atonement and purity says almost nothing about blessing?

Leviticus 9:23 is the first time we read of Aharon entering the Tent of Meeting. In Exodus 33:11 we read that, before the construction of the Tabernacle, Joshua pretty much lived outside of camp in the Tent of Meeting.

Traditional Jewish Commentary

The Haftorah is Second Samuel 6:1-19, when the ark is dropped and 'Uzah dies when he puts out his hand to steady it, and touches it.

According to the Tz'enah Ur'enah:

We find that fire came down from heaven twelve times: six times for good purposes—to burn the sacrifices—and six times for grievous ones, to punish mankind. The first fire came to the Tabernacle; the second in the days of Gidon, when he asked God for a sign and slaughtered a calf, and a fire came out of a stone and burned the sacrifice. The third time was in the days of Monoach. When the angel came to tell him that he would beget a son, Manoach slaughtered a calf, and a flame came out of a stone and reached up to heaven. The fourth time was in the days of David. A plague had struck Israel, and so David bought a granary and there brought sacrifices. A fire came down from heaven and burned them. The fifth time a fire came down was in the days of Shlomo, when he built the Beis HaMikdash... The sixth fire to come down from heaven was in the days of Eliyahu. He showed the false prophets how he poured water all over the altar. Then he prayed to God and a heavenly fire burned the sacrifices, water and all.

The six fires which came to harm and punish: the first fire came and incinerated Nadav and Avihu. The second fire came when Israel quarreled with Moshe and Aharon in the desert. A fire came from God and burned up the notables. The third fire was during the episode of Korach's quarrel with Moshe. A heavenly fire came and immolated 250 people. The fourth fire came in the days of Iyov, and burned down his houses. The fifth and sixth fires came through Eliyahu, burning up his enemies.

R'Bechaye writes that God forbade Israel the animals which are hot-tempered and prey in their anger on other animals and beasts, for God abhors this. He also forbade us to offer these animals as sacrifices.

R'Bechaye also writes: Why does the Torah list eight sheratzim which make one who touches them after death impure, while no snakes are mentioned, thus showing that a dead snake does not render a person impure? So that people will not be afraid to touch a snake in order to kill it. Similarly, since the scorpion is poisonous, the Torah forbade us only its consumption. It does not render one who touches it impure, so that men will touch it in order to destroy it.

The words darosh darash ("carefully investigated") in verse 10:16 represent the very middle of the Torah, word-wise. The ancient rabbis concluded that studying Torah also requires darosh darash.

Jeffrey Feinberg notes that the word kosher does not appear in the Torah.