The third portion of the book of Vayikra/Leviticus is Shemini, which means “Eighth.” This is the 26th Torah Portion.
Torah: Leviticus 9:1 – 11:47
Haftarah: Ezekiel 36:16-38
Passover Day 7: 2 Samuel 22:1-51
Apostolic: Mark 7:14-23; Acts 10:1-35
You can read or listen to the portions below:
The word of Hashem came to me: “Human being, when the house of Isra’el lived in their own land, they defiled it by their manner of life and their actions; their way before me was like the uncleanness of niddah. Therefore I poured out my fury on them, because of the blood they had shed in the land and because they defiled it with their idols. I scattered them among the nations and dispersed them throughout the countries; I judged them in keeping with their manner of life and actions. When they came to the nations they were going to, they profaned my holy name; so that people said of them, ‘These are Hashem’s people, who have been exiled from his land.’ But I am concerned about my holy name, which the house of Isra’el is profaning among the nations where they have gone.
“Therefore tell the house of Isra’el that Hashem Elohim says this: ‘I am not going to do this for your sake, house of Isra’el, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have been profaning among the nations where you went. I will set apart my great name to be regarded as holy, since it has been profaned in the nations — you profaned it among them. The nations will know that I am Hashem,’ says Hashem Elohim, ‘when, before their eyes, I am set apart through you to be regarded as holy.
For I will take you from among the nations,
gather you from all the countries,
and return you to your own soil.
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you,
and you will be clean;
I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness
and from all your idols.
I will give you a new heart
and put a new spirit inside you;
I will take the stony heart out of your flesh
and give you a heart of flesh.
I will put my Spirit inside you
and cause you to live by my laws,
respect my rulings and obey them.
You will live in the land I gave to your ancestors.
You will be my people,
and I will be your G-d.
I will save you from all your uncleanliness.
I will summon the grain and increase it,
and not send famine against you.
I will multiply the yield of fruit from the trees
and increase production in the fields,
so that you never again suffer the reproach
of famine among the nations.
Then you will remember your evil ways
and your actions that were not good;
as you look at yourselves, you will loathe yourselves
for your guilt and disgusting practices.
Understand,’ says Hashem Elohim,
‘that I am not doing this for your sake.
Instead, be ashamed and dismayed for your ways,
house of Isra’el.’
“Hashem Elohim says, ‘When the day comes for me to cleanse you from all your guilt, I will cause the cities to be inhabited and the ruins to be rebuilt. The land that was desolate will be tilled, whereas formerly it lay desolate for all passing by to see. Then they will say, “The land that used to be desolate has become like Gan-‘Eden, and the cities formerly ruined, abandoned and wasted have been fortified and are inhabited!” Then the nations around you that remain will know that I, Hashem, have rebuilt the ruins and replanted what was abandoned. I, Hashem, have spoken; and I will do it.’
“Hashem Elohim says, ‘In addition, I will let the house of Isra’el pray to me to do this for them: to increase their numbers like sheep — like flocks of sheep for sacrifices, like the flocks of sheep in Yerushalayim at its designated times, in this degree will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am Hashem.’”
Passover Day 7: 2 Samuel 22:1-51
David said the words of this song to Hashem on the day Hashem delivered him from the power of all his enemies and from the power of Sha’ul. He said:
“Hashem is my Rock, my fortress and deliverer,
the G-d who is my Rock, in whom I find shelter,
my shield, the power that saves me,
my stronghold and my refuge.
My savior, you have saved me from violence.
I call on Hashem, who is worthy of praise;
and I am saved from my enemies.
“For death’s breakers were closing over me,
the floods of B’liya‘al terrified me,
the ropes of Sh’ol were wrapped around me,
the snares of death lay there before me.
In my distress I called to Hashem;
yes, I called to my G-d.
Out of his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry entered his ears.
“Then the earth quaked and shook,
the foundations of heaven trembled.
They were shaken because he was angry.
Smoke arose in his nostrils;
and from his mouth, devouring fire,
with coals blazing from it.
He lowered heaven and came down
with thick darkness under his feet.
He rode on a keruv and flew,
he was seen on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his canopy around him,
thick clouds in the skies dense with water.
From the brightness before him,
fiery coals flamed out.
“Hashem thundered from heaven,
Ha‘Elyon sounded his voice.
He sent out arrows and scattered them;
with lightning he routed them.
The channels of the sea appeared,
the foundations of the world were exposed
at Hashem’s rebuke,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.
“He sent from on high, he took me
and pulled me out of deep water;
he rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from those who hated me, for they were stronger than I.
They came against me on my day of calamity,
but Hashem was my support.
“He brought me out to an open place;
he rescued me, because he took pleasure in me.
Hashem rewarded me for my uprightness,
he repaid me because my hands were clean.
“For I have kept the ways of Hashem,
I have not done evil by leaving my G-d;
for all his rulings were before me,
I did not depart from his regulations.
I was pure-hearted toward him
and kept myself from my sin.
“Hence Hashem repaid me for my uprightness,
according to my purity in his view.
With the merciful, you are merciful;
with the champion of purity, you are pure;
with the honest, you are honest;
but with the crooked you are cunning.
People afflicted, you save;
but when your eyes are on the haughty, you humble them.
“For you, Hashem, are my lamp;
Hashem lights up my darkness.
With you I can run through a whole troop of men,
with my G-d I can leap a wall.
“As for G-d, his way is perfect,
the word of Hashem has been tested by fire;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is G-d but Hashem,
and who is a Rock but our G-d?
“G-d is my strength and protection;
he makes my way go straight.
He makes me swift and sure-footed as a deer
and enables me to stand on my high places.
He trains my hands for war
until my arms can bend a bow of bronze;
You give me your shield, which is salvation;
your answers make me great.
You lengthen the steps I can take,
yet my ankles do not turn.
“I pursued my enemies and wiped them out,
without turning back until they were destroyed.
I destroyed them, crushed them; they can’t get up;
they have fallen under my feet.
“For you braced me with strength for the battle
and bent down my adversaries beneath me.
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
so that I could destroy those who hate me.
“They looked, but there was no one to help,
even to Hashem, but he didn’t answer.
I pulverized them like dust on the ground,
pounded and stamped on them like mud in the streets.
“You also freed me from the quarrels of my people.
You kept me to be the head of the nations;
a people I did not know now serve me.
Foreigners come cringing to me;
the moment they hear of me, they obey me.
Foreigners lose heart as they stagger from their fortresses.
“Hashem is alive! Blessed is my Rock!
Exalted be G-d, the Rock of my salvation,
the G-d who gives me vengeance
and makes peoples submit to me.
He brings me out from my enemies.
You raise me over those who rebel against me,
you rescue me from violent men.
“So I give thanks to you, Hashem, among the nations;
I sing praises to your name.
He is a tower of salvation for his king;
he displays grace to his anointed,
to David and his descendants forever.”
Then Yeshua called the people to him again and said, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand this! There is nothing outside a person which, by going into him, can make him unclean. Rather, it is the things that come out of a person which make a person unclean!”
When he had left the people and entered the house, his talmidim asked him about the parable. He replied to them, “So you too are without understanding? Don’t you see that nothing going into a person from outside can make him unclean? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and it passes out into the latrine.” (Thus he declared all foods ritually clean.) “It is what comes out of a person,” he went on, “that makes him unclean. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come forth wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, arrogance, foolishness…. All these wicked things come from within, and they make a person unclean.”
There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a Roman army officer in what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a devout man, a “G-d-fearer,” as was his whole household; he gave generously to help the Jewish poor and prayed regularly to G-d. One afternoon around three o’clock he saw clearly in a vision an angel of G-d coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at the angel, terrified. “What is it, sir?” he asked. “Your prayers,” replied the angel, “and your acts of charity have gone up into G-d’s presence, so that he has you on his mind. Now send some men to Yafo to bring back a man named Shim‘on, also called Kefa. He’s staying with Shim‘on the leather-tanner, who has a house by the sea.” As the angel that had spoken to him went away, Cornelius called two of his household slaves and one of his military aides, who was a godly man; he explained everything to them and sent them to Yafo.
The next day about noon, while they were still on their way and approaching the city, Kefa went up onto the roof of the house to pray. He began to feel hungry and wanted something to eat; but while they were preparing the meal, he fell into a trance in which he saw heaven opened, and something that looked like a large sheet being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals, crawling creatures and wild birds. Then a voice came to him, “Get up, Kefa, slaughter and eat!” But Kefa said, “No, sir! Absolutely not! I have never eaten food that was unclean or treif.” The voice spoke to him a second time: “Stop treating as unclean what G-d has made clean.” This happened three times, and then the sheet was immediately taken back up into heaven.
Kefa was still puzzling over the meaning of the vision he had seen, when the men Cornelius had sent, having inquired for Shim‘on’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask if the Shim‘on known as Kefa was staying there. While Kefa’s mind was still on the vision, the Spirit said, “Three men are looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and have no misgivings about going with them, because I myself have sent them.”
So Kefa went down and said to the men, “You were looking for me? Here I am. What brings you here?” They answered, “Cornelius. He’s a Roman army officer, an upright man and a G-d-fearer, a man highly regarded by the whole Jewish nation; and he was told by a holy angel to have you come to his house and listen to what you have to say.” So Kefa invited them to be his guests.
The next day, he got up and went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Yafo; and he arrived at Caesarea the day after that. Cornelius was expecting them — he had already called together his relatives and close friends. As Kefa entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell prostrate at his feet. But Kefa pulled him to his feet and said, “Stand up! I myself am just a man.”
As he talked with him, Kefa went inside and found many people gathered. He said to them, “You are well aware that for a man who is a Jew to have close association with someone who belongs to another people, or to come and visit him, is something that just isn’t done. But G-d has shown me not to call any person common or unclean; so when I was summoned, I came without raising any questions. Tell me, then, why did you send for me?”
Cornelius answered, “Three days ago around this time, I was at minchah prayers in my house, when suddenly a man in shining clothes stood in front of me and said, ‘G-d has heard your prayer and remembered your acts of charity. Now send to Yafo and ask for Shim‘on, known as Kefa; he is staying in the house of Shim‘on, a leather-tanner, by the sea.’ So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now all of us are here in the presence of G-d to hear everything the Lord has ordered you to say.”Then Kefa addressed them: “I now understand that G-d does not play favorites, but that whoever fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him, no matter what people he belongs to.