Parasha Inspiration – Shemini

וַֽיְהִי֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁמִינִ֔י קָרָ֣א משֶׁ֔ה לְאַֽהֲרֹ֖ן וּלְבָנָ֑יו וּלְזִקְנֵ֖י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֶל־אַֽהֲרֹ֗ן קַח־לְ֠ךָ֠ עֵ֣גֶל בֶּן־בָּקָ֧ר לְחַטָּ֛את וְאַ֥יִל לְעֹלָ֖ה תְּמִימִ֑ם וְהַקְרֵ֖ב לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה: וְאֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל תְּדַבֵּ֣ר לֵאמֹ֑ר קְח֤וּ שְׂעִֽיר־עִזִּים֙ לְחַטָּ֔את וְעֵ֨גֶל וָכֶ֧בֶשׂ בְּנֵֽי־שָׁנָ֛ה תְּמִימִ֖ם לְעֹלָֽה: וְשׁ֨וֹר וָאַ֜יִל לִשְׁלָמִ֗ים לִזְבֹּ֨חַ֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה וּמִנְחָ֖ה בְּלוּלָ֣ה בַשָּׁ֑מֶן כִּ֣י הַיּ֔וֹם יְהֹוָ֖ה נִרְאָ֥ה אֲלֵיכֶֽם: וַיִּקְח֗וּ אֵ֚ת אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוָּ֣ה משֶׁ֔ה אֶל־פְּנֵ֖י אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וַיִּקְרְבוּ֙ כָּל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה וַיַּֽעַמְד֖וּ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה:

And it was on the eighth day, that Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. And he said to Aaron, “Take for yourself a bull calf as a sin offering, and a ram as a burnt offering, [both] unblemished, and bring [them] near before the Lord. And to the children of Israel, you shall speak, saying, ‘Take a he-goat as a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, [both] in their first year and [both] unblemished, as a burnt offering, and an ox and a ram as peace offerings, to slaughter before the Lord, and a meal-offering mixed with oil, for today the Lord is appearing to you.’ ” And they took what Moses had commanded, to the front of the Tent of Meeting, and the entire community approached and stood before the Lord.

Leviticus 9:1-5

This week’s Torah portion briefly continues the Torah’s historical narrative in regard to the Kohanim. Leviticus 9 repeats the ritual of the Miluim, the installment of the priesthood. This ceremony, which is also given in Exodus 29, inaugurates the sacrificial system of the Mishkan. It is on this eighth day of the ceremony that the first Tamid offering, the daily sacrifice, is brought before Hashem. The sacrifice would be brought continuously from this day until the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The installment of the Kohanim, and the inauguration of the sacrificial system, would define Israel’s relationship with Hashem forever.

The Torah does not often repeat itself. We see many repetitions in Deuteronomy, however, Deuteronomy is Moses’s great message, and is told to us from his perspective. This repetition of the Miluim is quite different. This is Hashem repeating the ceremony to us. This repetition is something to which we need to pay attention. Hashem does not give us the words of Torah casually.

The Miluim establishes the Kohanim as one of the three “seats” of leadership within the house of Israel: the seat of Moses (the prophet,) the seat of David (the King,) and the seat of Aaron (the Kohayn.) The structure of leadership, with its checks and balances, would both serve and define Israel throughout history. The role of the Kahuna, the priesthood as the designated representatives of the people before Hashem, is initiated with the ceremony of the Miluim. As with the other seats of leadership, historically the priesthood is riddled with human frailty and misjudgment. Nevertheless, the Kahuna is one of the most important aspects of Israel’s relationship with Hashem. We look forward to the rebuilding of the Temple and the renewing of the duties of the Kahuna, and its relationship with Messiah Yeshua. May it be soon, and in our days. Shabbat shalom.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.