25 Shmini

וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי קָר֣א מֹשֶה לְאַהֲרֹן וּלְבָנָיו וּלְזִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel.





Brit Chadasha

 April 15 2023



2 Samuel

Mark 7:1-23
Gal 2:11-16

Parashat Semini opens with the initiation of the Tabernacle altar. After a seven-day period of ordination, sacrifices are commanded for the first time. Moses convenes Aaron and his sons, and tells them very specifically the nature of the sacrifices that God has commanded. More than simply reflecting a sacrificial rite, the Parasha explicitly directs our attention to the ends Lev. 9:6.. We read the juxtaposes on the  two sacrifices, both offered to God by Israelites in the desert and both summoning Divine fire, but with tragically different consequences. The first series of sacrifices was offered by Aaron and his sons and was rewarded:  the presence of the Lord appeared to all the people and fire forth from before the Lord consumed the burnt offering and the fat parts on the altar (Leviticus 9:8-24). The second, incense offered by Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu, come before the altar and offer “strange fire.” Without any sense of warning, a divine fire issues forth and consumes Aaron’s offspring, fire came forth from the Lord and consumed them; thus, they died (Leviticus 10:2). And Aaron was silent” (Lev. 10:1–3). Aaron response is a powerful example of mourning for the loss of his loved ones.

We learn that Moses struggles with the same issue, trying to find an explanation. He wants to offer consolation to his beloved brother, yet he takes care not to betray his responsibility as the leader who must teach the people to follow God’s teachings and instructions.

The message is clear and relevant in our time. While Aaron first makes atonement for a sin against God (the Golden Calf), he then makes atonement for a tragic sin rooted in humanity (the selling of Joseph into slavery). By being attentive to both the vertical (divine) and horizontal (human) vectors of relationship, we nurture and embrace God’s Presence in our midst. Far from being a lesson bound by the biblical Tabernacle, our parashah offers us a deep teaching about the nature of ourselves and the power of bringing the divine into our daily lives.