For the week ending 6 April 2024 / 27 Adar Bet 5784

Parshat Shemini

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
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On the eighth day of the dedication of the Mishkan, Aharon, his sons, and the entire nation bring various korbanot (offerings) as commanded by Moshe. Aharon and Moshe bless the nation. Hashem allows the Jewish People to sense His Presence after they complete the Mishkan. Aharon's sons, Nadav and Avihu, innovate an offering not commanded by Hashem. A fire comes from before Hashem, consuming them and stressing the need to perform the commandments only as Moshe directs. Moshe consoles Aharon, who grieves in silence. Moshe directs the kohanim regarding their behavior during the mourning period, and warns them that they must not drink intoxicating beverages before serving in the Mishkan. The Torah lists the two characteristics of a kosher animal: It has split hooves, and it chews, regurgitates, and re-chews its food. The Torah specifies by name those non-kosher animals which have only one of these two signs. A kosher fish has fins and easily removable scales. All birds not included in the list of forbidden families are permitted. The Torah forbids all types of insects except for four species of locusts. Details are given of the purification process after coming in contact with ritually impure species. The Jewish People are commanded to be separate and holy — like Hashem.


Burning Heart! – Do Not Extinguish!

“Moshe said to Aharon, ‘Come near to the Altar…” (9:7)

I remember some years ago, someone came up to Rabbi Noach Orloweck after he’d given a shiur and said, “Thanks Rabbi, that was really inspirational!” To which he replied, “Thanks. Rabbis need encouragement too!”

Thanks to Hashem, I have been empowered by Hashem to write for Ohrnet for more than thirty years and make Torah videos for more than five years now, and I want to thank everyone for all their feedback and their encouragement. Some weeks, the old creative juices seem to be running a little thin – like this week. But when someone leaves an encouraging word, or comes up to me and gives me a verbal pat on the back, it makes a big difference.

There’s a gemara in Kiddushin that says: When farmers do the mitzvah of bringing their first-fruits to Jerusalem, all craftsmen and workers stand up and greet them, saying to them: Our brothers from such and such a place: Welcome! And this is done even though they would be taking time out of their day and lose money by doing it. The gemara says that the reason they are obliged to give this welcome is if they don’t treat those who bring first fruits with such honor, maybe the farmers won’t want to bring their fruits next year. And so, the Sages instituted a special decree, that those bringing first fruits should be treated with special honor.

This might seem difficult to understand. Since bringing the first fruits is a Torah mitzvah, why would the mere lack of a reception committee and a red carpet deter the farmers from fulfilling their Torah obligation?

The answer is that failing to encourage someone when you have the opportunity to do so, is like pouring water on the fire of enthusiasm, and might lead someone to neglect even a Torah mitzvah.

“Moshe said to Aharon, ‘Come near to the Altar…” (9:7)

It says in the Torah,“A permanent fire should remain aflame on the Altar; it shall not be extinguished.” The Gemara in Zevachim 91 says that anyone who extinguishes a single coal from the fire of the Altar has transgressed a negative Torah commandment. If the extinguishing of a single physical coal is such a serious matter, surely one should never extinguish even one hope or aspiration on the altar of the heart.

In the troubled times in which we live, let us reach out and encourage with words and love every aspiration and hope in the hearts of others.

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