Torah Tidbits

26 July 2014 / 28 Tammuz 5774
Issue 1039
Shabbat Parshat Tzav-Hagadol-Shmini
March 21, 2013

Aliya-by-Aliya Sedra Summary

Aliya-by-Aliya Sedra Summary - Shmini

Kohen - First Aliya 16 p’sukim - 9:1-16
[S> 9:1 (31)] On the 8th day, Aharon was commanded to offer the first set of sacrifices (not counting the korbanot that were brought during the previous preparatory week). Specifically, “personal” korbanot - an EIGEL (calf) as a CHATAT and an AYIL (ram) as an OLAH.
Then the People offer a goat as a CHATAT and a calf and a lamb as OLOT. Then a bull and ram as SH’LAMIM.
Ponder this: It is “obvious” that the CHATAT of a calf is an atonement for the Sin of the Golden Calf and/or an indication that G-d has forgiven the people for the Golden Calf. In one context the Golden Calf was called “the calf that Aharon made”. Therefore, the calf on the Eighth Day is his CHATAT. The calf of the people is an OLAH, rather than a CHATAT. OLAH is brought for thoughts of certain sins; CHATAT is for acts. Those of Bnei Yisrael who DID whatever we will call it, the EIGEL, were killed. The rest of us were “guilty” of indecision, fence-sitting, confusion - “sins” of thought. Our calf was an Olah. Aharon’s OLAH was a ram, reminding us of Akeidat Yitzchak. No sin associated with that. (Olah is not always about sin.) Our CHATAT was a goat, reminding us of our former collective sin of the selling of Yosef and deception of Yaakov with the help of goat’s blood.

Levi - Second Aliya 7 p’sukim - 9:17-23
The Torah continues the details of the opening set of sacrifices, the accompanying Mincha, the Sh’lamim, what parts go on the Mizbei’ach. This short Aliya concludes with Aharon raising his hand(s) to the people and blessing them.

Shlishi - Third Aliya 12 p’sukim - 9:24-10:11
A Divine Fire descended and consumed everything on the Mizbei’ach. The people reacted to this miracle with praise to G-d and reverence for Him.
Then Nadav and Avihu, two sons of Aharon (who had been assisting Aharon), took censers with fire and offered incense before G-d. The fire was their own, not that of the Mizbei’ach. A Divine Fire struck them dead, consuming them from within, leaving them outwardly unmarked.
Moshe’s words of consolation to Aharon are met with Aharon’s silence. Moshe calls two cousins, Misha’el and Eltzafan, sons of Uziel, to remove the bodies.
(Almost in reaction to the tragedy,) the Torah next sets down several rules (mitzvot) for kohanim, to save them from endangering their lives. Kohanim may not enter the Mikdash with long hair (a monthly trim was required) [149, L163 10:6], nor with torn garments [150,L164 10:6]. They may not leave the Mikdash while performing their sacred work [151,L165 10:7].
[P> 10:8 (4)] More - kohanim may not enter the Mikdash while under the influence of wine [152,L73 10:8]. Violations of any of the above would be a show of disrespect to G-d. [Some commentators infer from this last prohibition that Nadav and Avihu had drunk wine before they entered the Mishkan. Others offer different reasons for their deaths.]
SDT: Two of the other “traditions” as to what Nadav and Avihu did wrong are that they decided a point of halacha on their own, in the presence of their “rebbi” (Moshe Rabeinu), and that they did not consult with anyone in this halachic matter. It behooves us to learn a serious, sobering lesson from all of the possible flaws in the actions of Nadav and Avihu. One must be careful when it comes to deciding the correct halacha for oneself and his family. Consulting a Rav is good.

R’vi’i - Fourth Aliya 4 p’sukim - 10:12-15
[P> 10:12 (9)] Moshe next commands Aharon, Elazar, and Itamar to eat the Minachot and parts of the various offerings of the day. (Some was to be eaten only by them, in the area of the Mishkan; other parts could be taken “home” and shared with their families.) This was an unusual command, since generally, kohanim who have suffered a close loss would not eat of the sacred foods on the day of the burial. Nonetheless, Moshe tells them that he was thus commanded to tell them.

Chamishi 5th Aliya 5 p’sukim - 10:16-20
When Moshe realizes that the CHATA’OT were burned, he gets angry with Elazar and Itamar (and Aharon, says Rashi, but to avoid a brother-brother confrontation and shaming Aharon, Moshe addresses his nephews) for not eating of the korbanot, as they were instructed to do. Aharon defends his sons’ behavior by explaining that the loss of their brothers would make a “business as usual” attitude unac- ceptable in G-d’s eyes. Moshe accepts Aharon’s words.

Shishi - Sixth Aliya 32 p’sukim - 11:1-32
[P> 11:1 (28)] Two and a half sedras devoted to sacred meat (i.e. korbanot), and now we have the presentation of the animals we may and may not eat.
There is a positive mitzva to check the signs of kashrut of a mammal to determine its kashrut status [153, A149 11:2]. It is forbidden to eat of animals that lack one of the signs of kashrut (split hoof and cud chewing), and of course, those that lack both] [153, A149 11:2]. The Torah names three animals that chew their cud but do not have split hooves - the camel, shafan, arnevet, and one that has a split hoof but is not a ruminent - the pig. We may not eat their meat, and handling their carcasses renders one TAMEI, ritually unclean.
Likewise, one is required to examine fish for scales and fins [155,A152 11:9]. It is forbidden to eat non-kosher fish [156,L172 11:11].
MitzvaWatch
Think about this: If the Torah only prohibited fish without scales and not commanded us to examine the fish to see if it’s kosher, we would have to examine fish for scales to determine if they are kosher. Why is examining fish for its kosher signs a mitzva among the positive members of the 613? Some mitzvot are “unnecessary” for G-d to command us; we would do them anyway. However, “G-d wanted to benefit Yisrael, therefore He heaps upon us Torah and Mitzvot”. M of Rabbi Chananya b. Akashya.
Avoiding prohibitions is usually motivated by Fear of G-d. Fulfillment of positives is motivated by Love of G-d. There are also other ways to understand those mitzvot that have ‘two sides of the coin’.
With birds, the Torah lists 20 kinds of birds (not species, families, genus, etc. - but kinds) that are not kosher [157,L174 11:13]. All the rest of the birds are kosher. How do know if a particular bird is in one of the forbidden families or not? Usually, the answer is TRADITION. We eat chicken etc. because we have an unbroken tradition.
Finally, the Torah specifies four types (8 families) of locust that we may eat. Checking their identities is a mitzva [158,A151 11:21]. All other insects are not permitted to us. We (most of us) have lost the ability of identifying kosher locust, so we don’t eat any of them.
[S> 11:29 (10)] Next the Torah deals with the ritual impurity of creeping things [159,A97 11:21].

Sh’VII Seventh Aliya 15 p’sukim - 11:33-47
Minding the laws of “purity” of food and drink is a mitzva [160,A98 11:34]. (It is one of the details of these laws that “requires” us to wash for karpas at the Seder table, and in general before wet food, all the time.)
[S> 11:39 (9)] Once again, the Torah presents the rules of the carcass of animals and the resulting ritual impurity from contact of various types [161,A96 11:39]. The Torah reiterates the prohibition of eating “creepy things” [162,L176 11:41], as well as worms and insects that can infest fruits and vegetables [163, L178 11:41], seafood and other life-forms that inhabit the water [164, L179 11:43], and maggots that develop in rotting food material [165,L177 11:44].
All of the above is meant to elevate the Jew’s soul to the sanctity that G-d wanted us to attain. For us, there is a direct link between body and soul, the spiritual and the mundane. The laws of kashrut bring the point home.

Haftara 40 p’sukim Shmuel Bet 6:1-7:17
...story of Uza who touched the Aron to prevent it from slipping (as he perceived it) and was struck dead as a result… Parallels Nadav & Avihu… Rabbi Jacobs z"l says that both sedra and haftara contain very joyous celebrations that were “marred” by the deaths of people with noble motives. Note: Uza’s father was Avinadav, a combination of the names Avihu & Nadav.

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