• Daily Aliya for Shemini, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: We learn of the possibility of foods and utensils contracting ritual impurity if they come in contact with any of the aforementioned impurities. The Torah then mentions the impurity contracted through coming in contact with the carcass of a kosher animal which was not ritually slaughtered. We are commanded not to consume any insects or reptiles. The reading closes with an exhortation that we remain holy by abstaining from eating all forbidden foods.

    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.

  • Daily Aliya for Shemini, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d gives the commandments of Kosher, explaining how to distinguish between kosher and non-kosher animals, fish, and birds. Kosher animals must chew their cud and have cloven feet. The Torah lists four animals that have only one of these attributes, but not both, and are therefore non-kosher. Kosher fish must have fins and scales. The Torah then gives a list of species of non-kosher birds, and species of kosher locust. The Torah then discusses the ritual impurity caused by coming in contact with the carcass of a non-kosher animal, as well as certain species of rodents and amphibian creatures.

    If the Torah only prohibited fish without scales, one would obviously have to examine fish before declaring it Kosher. Why, then, are we commanded to examine the fish, if it has to be done anyway? Rabbi Chananya b. Akashya answers that “G-d wanted to benefit Yisrael, therefore He heaps upon us Torah and Mitzvot”, even when we’d do them anyway.

  • Daily Aliya for Shemini, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe becomes aware that one of the sin offerings had been burnt, rather than eaten. When he expresses his displeasure, Aaron explains his reasoning for ordering the burning of that particular offering, and Moshe humbly accepts Aaron’s explanation.

    Moshe gets angry with Elazar and Itamar 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 unacceptable in G-d’s eyes. Moshe accepts Aharon’s words. Our Sages teach us to learn from Moshe Rabbeinu. Just as he was not embarrassed to admit that he did not know (or did not remember) learning a point, so should we readily admit it when we do not know something.

  • Daily Aliya for Shemini, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe addresses Aaron and his sons, instructing them regarding the consumption of that day’s offerings — despite the deaths of their next of kin.


    At first glance this seems cruel, to make Aaron and his sons do all this work while they mourn the loss of their sons/brothers. Unless, that is, you see if from G-d’s perspective, who wanted to be closer to them specifically when they were going through their grief, because He felt the grief as well. Mourners take comfort among themselves, and G-d might have needed Aaron and his sons’ company as much as they needed His.


  • Daily Aliya for Shemini, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: At this point a heavenly fire descends and consumes the offerings on the altar. Aaron’s eldest two sons, Nadav and Avihu, bring an unauthorized incense offering and a heavenly fire consumes them. Moshe orders the removal of their bodies from the Tabernacle, and instructs Aaron and his remaining two sons not to observe the traditional laws of mourning, considering that they had to continue serving in the Sanctuary on behalf of the Jewish nation. The priests are instructed not to imbibe wine before performing Temple service.

    Two of the many “traditions” as to what Nadav and Avihu did wrong are that they decided a point of halacha on their own (to bring an offering) in the presence of their “rebbi” (Moshe), and that they did not consult with anyone in this halachic matter. It behooves us to learn a sobering (purposeful choice of the word) lesson from all of the possible flaws in the actions of Nadav and Avihu. One must be careful when making decisions for oneself and their family. Consulting a Rabbi is a good idea.

  • Daily Aliya for Shemini, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: After concluding the offering of all the sacrifices, Aaron blesses the people with the priestly blessing. Moshe and Aaron bless the Jewish people that G‑d’s presence dwell in their handiwork, and, indeed, the Divine presence visibly descends upon the Tabernacle.

    The Torah spelled “yadav”, his hands, without the second “yud”, making the word resemble “yado”, his hand. From here comes the tradition of the kohanim holding their two hands together as one during the priestly blessings.

  • Daily Aliya for Shemini, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: This week’s Parsha, Shemini, is a continuation of the seven-day inaugural ceremony. This week’s Parsha opens on the eighth day, when G‑d’s presence descends upon the Tabernacle. On that day, Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu die when offering an uncalled-for incense sacrifice. The Parsha concludes with a discussion about the laws of Kosher and ritual purity.

    Aliya Summary: Moshe gathers all the Jews to the Tabernacle to witness the Divine presence descending upon the Sanctuary on that day. Aaron offers various sacrifices in preparation for this revelation.

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