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Shabbat Morning Class - Parasha Shemini

Rabbi Mansour 2010
Shabbat Morning Class
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The Parasha begins with Moshe instructing Aharon and his sons to bring
sacrifices on the alter in honor of the inauguration of the Mishkan. This day was Rosh
Hodesh Nissan. It was one of the most special days in our history. It is written in Seder
Olam that 10 crowns were taken by that inauguration day of Rosh Hodesh Nissan. It
was a day that marked the first time for many holy ceremonies (including the first time
the Mizbeah services were performed, the first time fire came down onto the Mizbeah,
the first day the Shechinah came down onto the Mishkan etc.). It was a most joyous
and holy day.
Moshe instructed Aharon to bring three Korbanot Chatat. The first was a Korban to
atone for the sin of the golden calf. The second, was the sacrifice of Nachshon ben
Aminadav(the prince of the tribe of Yehudah) and the third was the Korban of Rosh
Hodesh. In the interim, the sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu were killed while offering
the ????? -incense in the Mikdash. Later on Moshe had inquired about the Korbanot
which he instructed Aharon and his sons to offer, and he found that instead of
partaking of the Korban of Rosh Hodesh as Moshe instructed, they burnt it totally.
Moshe became angry at them and had demanded to know why they had disobeyed his
command and instead burnt it! Why didn’t they eat from it- just like they ate from the
first two Korbanot?! Aharon explained to Moshe that since his sons had just died he
was an Onen and an Onen should not partake from Korbanot. The reason why they
ate from the first two Korbanot even though they were Onen is because those were
considered ???? ??? -(holy for the hour) meaning they were a once in a lifetime
Korban- commanded to be brought only once in history- and therefore even though
they were Onen they ate, since they would never again have this opportunity to bring
these Korbanot. However the Korban of Rosh Hodesh will be brought on every Rosh
Hodesh, therefore it is classified as ???? ????? -(holy for the generations) and since the
chance to perform these Korbanot will come again, it is not proper for an Onen to
partake of them. When Moshe heard this he was appeased and admitted to Aharon
that he indeed was correct.
What needs to be understood is how can it be that Moshe became angry at Aharon
and his sons for burning the Korban Rosh Hodesh. The anger of Moshe is rarely seen
in the Torah, and this seems to be simply a matter of a debate in Halacha, is that a
reason to get angry?! In addition, we must understand how it is possible that Moshe
did not think of this very logical difference between the Korbanot, and how did he not
realize that the Korban Rosh Hodesh should have been burnt! There must be a deeper
understanding to this entire incident.
There is a Gemarah in Hulin Daf 60B that quotes the Pasuk in Parashat Bereshit
that says " ???? ????? ?? ??? ??????? ???????. ?? ????? ?????.. ??? ????? ???? "- "Hashem
made the two great luminaries. The great one etc. and the small one" The Gemarah
asks that if the Torah describes the two luminaries as great than how can it proceed to
refer to one of them as small?? The Gemarah explains that the moon came to Hashem
and asked "is it possible that two kings should rule simultaneously? (meaning how
could the sun and I both be so big?!) Hashem responded; you are correct, go and
minimize yourself. The moon said to Hashem; " master of the world since I have said
something proper before you does this mean that I have to become smaller"?! Hashem
proceeded to try and appease the moon and told the moon that you will be seen in
both the day and the night (as we can sometimes see the moon even in the daytime).
The moon was not satisfied and said; "who needs my light during the day when the sun
is shining"?! Hashem continued to try and appease the moon and told the moon that
the Jews will use you to determine when the holidays and New Years are. This still did
not appease the moon. Hashem said to the moon; the Tsadikim will name themselves
after you (Ex; Yaakov Hakatan, Shemuel Hakatan, David Hakatan all Katan [small] like
the moon). Still, the moon refused to be appeased until Hashem exclaimed: "????? ???
????" -"bring for me a Korban" for I have made the moon smaller!!
This Korban "for Hashem", is the Korban of Rosh Hodesh. The Pasuk in Bamidbar
(Perek 28 Pasuk 15) refers to the Korban Chatat of Rosh Hodesh as " ???? ?? " (a sin
offering- ' ?? ) meaning it is a sin offering for Hashem- for minimizing the moon. This
explains why in the Korbanot portion of Shaharit we say "???? ????? ??????. ??? ??
???? ?????- ????? ???? ?????" . Why does it say "these are the Korbanot of Sibbur and
individual" then go on to list only the Korbanot of the Sibbur? It should have just said;
these are the Korbanot of the Sibbur etc… The answer is because when it says ??????
(individual)- it is referring to the ???? ?????? the one and only Hashem. The Korban that
it proceeds to list first is the Korban of Rosh Hodesh and as mentioned, this was the
Korban brought for Hashem, who is truly the ???? -individual. This is why the list begins
with ???? ????? ?????? even though it proceeds to list only Korbanot Sibbur.
(incidentally we see from this episode the tremendous level of humility of Hashem, in
that he felt he had to try and appease the moon again and again and ultimately felt that
he needed a Korban to gain "atonement" for this act. Like it says "?? ???? ???? ????
?????? ?? ???? ????????" -"whenever you find Hashem’s greatness that is where you find
his humility" . A hint to this is when you analyze the numerical value of Hashem’s name
it is 26 and 2+6=8 if we take two of Hashem’s name 26x2=52 and 5+2=7. Three times
Hashem’s name is 26x3=78 and 7+8=15 [1+5=6] and so on... We find that the more
times that we multiply Hashem’s name, the less the numbers will total when added
together. This is a hint to "the greater Hashem, the more humble").
The darkness of the moon represents more than just a physical darkness. It is
written in the Gemarah about the dangers of traveling alone at night and sleeping
alone at night in a dark place. There are evil forces lurking at night (three of the forces
are referred to as ??-???-????? . This is why we begin Arbit with the Pesukim of ????
???? that we ask protection from these three when we say: ??? ????? ????? ????? ???
??? ???? ?? ???? ). We recite Keriat Shema at night which includes the ??? ???? - a
prayer recited for protection that is said in a graveyard to clear away the evil spirits. We
ask in the Berachah of Arbit " ???? ?? ??? ????? "-to be protected from all evil. Night
represents the exile and its difficulties. In the future however the light of the moon will
be equal to the light of the sun as it says " ???? ??? ????? ???? ???? " there will be only
light ,and the exile -and all of the evil spirits of the night- will cease to exist.
The goal of Moshe Rabeinu was to bring the final redemption.
The Zohar explains that Moshe Rabeinu will be the Mashiach. The Pasuk says in
Parashat Veyehi that Yaakov told his sons in reference to Mashiach " "?? ?? ??? ????
and the Zohar says ?? ????? ?? . This one is the same numerical value of that one,
meaning the word ???? is the same numerical value as Moshe- both equal 345. ??
????? ???? ????? ?????? , the later redemption will be like the earlier redemption and
just like the earlier redemption of Egypt was through Moshe so will be the final
redemption. This is why when Moshe initially refused to be the redeemer of Israel he
told Hashem " ??? ?? ??? ???? "-"please send them with whom you will send them",
using a double terminology of sending since he realized that whoever is the first
redeemer will also be the final redeemer (the Ohr Hacham clarifies that even though
we know that the Mashiach is from the tribe of Yehudah it can still be Moshe Rabeinu
since he was comprised from all the Neshamot of Israel and therefore the Neshama of
Mashiach is also contained in him!).
Moshe knew that he is to be the final redeemer and he felt that the perfect day for
the ultimate final redemption was that very day of Rosh Hodesh Nissan of the
inaugural ceremonies of the Mikdash. He tried to add an eleventh crown on that day.
The crown of Mashiach! Moshe tried to bring the world to its future stage, a world in
which the light of the moon is as great as the light of the sun. This would represent an
eternal " ???? "-"atonement" for Hashem for minimizing the moon. How was this
atonement to be accomplished? Through the Korban Rosh Hodesh of that day!
It is written in Torat Kohanim and in the Gemarah Zevahim Daf 101B "????? ??????
?????? ???????" – "the Kohanim eat and the owner of the offering gains atonement".
The eating of the Kohanim is the integral part of the Korban achieving atonement for its
owner. Moshe was looking forward to the Korban of Hashem- the Chatat of Rosh
Hodesh being sacrificed and then eaten by the Kohanim in order for Hashem to have
his "atonement" and the moon no would longer be dark and it would be as bright as
the sun, signifying the end of the exile forever!! When he investigated and saw the
Korban had been burnt and not eaten, this was a tremendous "let down" to Moshe and
he was upset at Aharon and his sons, since this could have brought the eternal
redemption!! That Korban Rosh Hodesh should be viewed as ???? ??? -(holy for the
hour)- a once in a lifetime Korban, since if it would have been completed then- it would
never have to be brought again!! The Kapara would have been complete. In Moshe’s
opinion there was no greater ???? ??? -a once in a lifetime moment as pivotal as this!
This explains Moshe’s reaction to the burning of the Chatat of Rosh Hodesh, but
what was Aharon thinking?? Why in fact did he burn it? Whatever the reason, Moshe
ultimately agreed with it!
The answer lies in the story of the death of Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon.
Nadav and Avihu felt the holiness of the day and they too sought to accomplish a lofty
goal on that day, they were trying to be ???? (rectify) the sin of Adam Harishon!
Adam ate from the tree of wisdom after Hashem had told him not to. How can this
be? If Hashem had told us directly not to do something we surely would not disobey!
Can we truly believe that Adam simply "couldn’t control himself" and ate?! The holy
books explain that Adam’s eating from the tree was done with great calculation. By
eating from the tree he was trying to internalize the Yezer Hara to be a part of himself
and of every Jew. This way, there will be a test for every Jew whenever he would
attempt to do a Misvah. He figured: how valuable are our Misvot if we have no force to
challenge us when we try and perform them?? If we have to overcome something- it
would make our Misvot would be so much more valuable!! There was just one
problem. He did not first ask Hashem’s permission, and for this he was punished and
brought death to the world.
Nadav and Avihu tried to rectify this sin of Adam by bringing incense when they
were not commanded, just as Adam acted without first being commanded. They drank
wine before they entered the Mikdash because the tree that Adam had eaten from
(according to one opinion) was grape vine. They specifically chose wine to show they
were coming to rectify this sin of Adam. In Parashat Bereshit in discussing the creation
of the world the Pasuk says " ???? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??? "-referring to the first day as ??? , in
describing Rosh Hodesh Nissan the Torah says ????? ??? ??? -it is the first. The word
????? is an even greater way to describe "the first" then the word ??? , so they felt that
this was the perfect time to rectify the world to bring it back to the way it was when it
was created!
The Pasuk says that they brought the pan of incense and burnt an alien fire ??? ??
??? ?' - that Hashem had not commanded them. The cantorial note under the word ?? is
a rare note called ??? ???? which literally means 2 reasons. This hints to their
reasoning for bringing this unauthorized fire. It was to "repeat" for a second time what
Adam had done in order to rectify it and bring the world back to its original state before
Adam had sinned!
There was just one problem, they too should have asked first! They should have
consulted before taking the initiative to rectify Adam’s sin by offering an unauthorized
fire in the Mikdash. For this reason they were killed and failed to bring the world back
to its original pre-sin state. When Aharon saw this, he understood that this was not the
time for the world to be brought to its perfection and not the time for the final
redemption. He therefore explained to Moshe that since he was an Onen-meaning
since his sons had died trying to rectify the world- this showed him that Hashem is not
ready for the final redemption right now and therefore this was not the time to eat from
Hashem’s Chatat to bring the final rectifications to the world and have a moon as bright
as the sun. Moshe understood that indeed- it was not the time for the final redemption
and admitted to Aharon that he was correct.
Even though Nadav and Avihu were not successful in their attempt to rectify the
world, their death did accomplish a tremendous atonement for the Jewish people for
the generations. We read about their deaths on Yom Kippur showing the atonement
that we receive through their deaths and the Pasuk says " -"?? ??? ????? ???? ?? ?????
"the Jewish people will cry for their burning" ???? is a future tense showing that even
the later generations will cry for the deaths of the sons of Aharon in that they died
trying to "save the world" and ultimately were an atonement for us.
It is written that at the same time of the passing of a Tsadik, the good qualities and
unique gifts and traits of the Tsadik are "available" and are given to the other Tsadikim
and to those who are worthy in the generation (this is illustrated in the story of the Baal
Shem Tov who was one washing his hands Netilat Yadayim for Seudah Shelishit on
Shabbat and suddenly exclaimed ??? ?? ?????? "the light of the west has been
extinguished" he was referring to the death of the Ohr Hachaim who live in Israel. The
Baal Shem Tov explained to his students that the Ohr Hachaim had just passed away.
How do you know asked his students?! [They were in Russia with no way of knowing
what was happening in Israel!!] I know because when I started to wash for Netilat
Yadayim of Seudah Shelishit a certain ???? [holy intention] came to my mind at that
moment and I know that only one Tsadik in the generation is privileged to this ???? and
until now it was the Ohr Hacahim. Now that it came to me it must be that he passed
away and it was passed to me!).
Who received the traits and qualities of Nadav and Avihu? Moshe and Aharon. This
is precisely how Moshe realized the greatness of these Tsadikim when he felt the new
qualities inside of him. This is why Moshe told Aharon that he knew that someone holy
would have to die to sanctify the Mishkan but "I thought it would be me or you". "?????
???? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ????" -"now I see that they were greater than me and you!" We
can now understand these words to say: now I see that they were great people- ????
???? -from me and you. Meaning, from the after effects of holiness that both you and I
received after their deaths we see exactly how holy they were!!
Who received these gifts of Nadav and Avihu after Moshe and Aharon died?
Pinhas, since he too did an act that he was not commanded to do (killing Zimri) but he
first asked if it was o.k. This is why he became a Kohen, and the Pasuk refers to him
as ???? ?? ????? ?? ????? -the son of Aharon- since he took the place of Aharon’s sons.
It is written that just like there is an alter on earth there is also an alter in the heaven.
What is sacrificed on this alter? The Tsadikim. The angel ????? sacrifices the souls of
the Tsadikim on this alter in order to effect atonement for the Jews. As it says ????
?????...???? ????? "the sacrifices offerings of the Jews should be accepted". This refers
to the Tsadikim being offered as sacrifices by ???? ????? in the .????
When a Tsadik dies there is a ????? for him, which is like a party. Why are we
celebrating a Tsadik’s death? We celebrate the holiness and good traits that the Tsadik
left to us.
Aharon realized that even though his sons were not successful in their goal to
perfect the world they still effected a great atonement for ??? ????? . He understood that
they were now being offered as sacrifices by ????? on such a holy day (as hinted to in
the words of the Pasuk ?? ???? ?' ???? ????? -literally;" this is the day Hashem appeared
before you"-the words ???? ????? also spell ?????-????? showing that through Aharon’s
sons ????? too was able to bring holy sacrifices on that day). He knew that the qualities
and holiness of Nadav and Avihu were given over to Moshe and himself and
understood all of the ramifications of what had transpired.. This is why -???? ?????
"Aharon was silent" he had no claims against Hashem in his heart, he saw all that was
going on in the heavens and realized the tremendous benefits of the passing of his
sons. This is hinted to in what we say at a Brit Milah" ?????? ??? ?????? ??? "- literally-
"through your blood you shall live through your blood you shall live". The word ?????? is
also- ????? ???? - a term of silence, showing that through your silence you will live.
Silence in the face of hardships shows trust and ????? -faith in Hashem. Like it says
???? ??????? ????" "-"a Tsadik lives by his faith". Whatever hardship one endures, he
must have faith in Hashem that there are great ramifications and benefits that he, as
well as the entire Jewish nation receive through his hardships and silence. Faith will
give a person the life and strength to endure to see the light of redemption. Amen.

Related Parasha
Parashat Shemini- Respect and Reverence in the Synagogue - 2023 Year
Pesah: Redemption Then and Now - 2023 Year
Parashat Shemini: The Lesson of the Para Aduma - 2022 Year
Parashat Shemini: Caring for Our Sacred Soul - 2021 Year
Pesah- Unity as a Prerequisite to Redemption - 2021 Year
Parashat Shemini in Year of Pandemic 5780|2020- Inaugurating the Heavenly Altar - 2020 Year
The Exodus and the Process of Spiritual Healing - 2020 Year
Parashat Shemini- Sacrificing for Misvot - 2019 Year
Parashat Shemini: The Inherent Value of Preparation - 2018 Year
Parashat Shemini: Crying for the Sons of Aharon - 2017 Year
Shabbat HaGadol- The Great Message of Springtime - 2016 Year
Parashat Shemini: The Death of Nadab and Abihu - 2016 Year
Parashat Shemini: Shame - 2015 Year
Pesah- The Love Affair Between G-d and His People - 2015 Year
Parashat Shemini: Humility and Acceptance - 2014 Year
Parashat Shemini: Understanding Humility - 2013 Year
Pesah: Achieving True Freedom - 2013 Year
Parashat Shemini: Nadab and Abihu - 2012 Year
Pesah- Earning Redemption, Then and Now - 2012 Year
Parashat Shemini- Having Trust in the System - 2011 Year
Shabbat Morning Class - Parasha Shemini - 2010 Year
Parashat Behaalotecha- Rectification is Always Possible
Parashat Naso- Emuna First
Shavuot- Celebrating the Eternal Torah
Shavuot- The Challenge – and Rewards – of Torah Commitment
Parashat Behar- Experiencing the Sweetness and Delight of Torah
Parashat Emor- Keter Shem Tob 'The Crown of Good Reputation'
Parashat Ahare Mot- Planting Our Spiritual Trees
Parashat Shemini- Respect and Reverence in the Synagogue
Pesah: Redemption Then and Now
Pesah- Its A Mirage
Parashat Vayikra- The Triple Sin of Dishonesty
Parashat Pekudeh- Counting the Things That Matter
Parashat Ki Tisa- The Sanctity of Every Jew
Purim and the Sale of Yosef
Parashat Terumah- The Torah’s “Footsteps”
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1002 Parashot found