The Eighth Day of What? – 5782 Shemini Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.

Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.

It’s time to explore Torah Portion Shemini, aliyah by aliyah.

Shemini Leviticus 9:1-11:47

Aliyah 1 – Leviticus 9:1-16

Leviticus 9:1 On the eighth day, Moshe called Aharon, his sons and the leaders of Isra’el

LEV 9:1

What eighth day? The eight day of what? This is the eight day after the seven days of consecration of the Mishkan and Aharon and his sons. The one-week period was to set them, the people and the articles, apart so that they could make a dwelling place for HaShem amongst the People of Israel. It is odd because it is said repeatedly that the period of consecration is to be 7 days, but then the presentation of this additional day feels as if it is part of the previous 7. Why not say “on the next day,” or “after the 7 days had been completed,” or something that clearly marks one time as over and another beginning.

Could this be some sort of allusion to the work of Creation? I mentioned previously that the 7 days of consecration felt like they alluded to the Creation of the Universe.

Leviticus 9:2 and said to Aharon, “Take a male calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without defect, and offer them before HaShem.

LEV 9:2

Aharon is the one who “engraved” the golden calf before Moshe came down from Sinai. The Torah doesn’t place blame on Aharon for his part. Aharon is to offer up a male calf as a sin offering after the he, his sons and the Tabernacle have been consecrated to serve HaShem.

Leviticus 9:3 Then tell the people of Isra’el, ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering and a calf and a lamb, both a year old and without defect, for a burnt offering,

LEV 9:3

Aharon offered 2 animals, 1 sin-offering calf, 1 burnt offering ram. The people are instructed to bring 3 offerings, 1 sin-offering goat and 2 burnt offerings, 1 calf and 1 lamb. There is a bit of a reversal from Aharon. I find that curious.

Leviticus 9:4 and an ox and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before HaShem; also a grain offering mixed with olive oil — because today HaShem is going to appear to you.’”

LEV 9:4

The last verse had the people offer 2 burnt offerings aside from 1 sin-offering. This verse has 2 peace offerings and a grin offering. I think that means that the full suite of offering types was brought on this eighth day

After the golden calf was destroyed, HaShem instructed Israel to build the Mishkan to make a dwelling for Him amongst them. The people wanted the golden calf because they didn’t know what had happened to Moshe. It as said that the golden calf was HaShem who had brought them out of Egypt. Clearly that was wrong. I would argue that the wrong things were done for good reasons if not the right reasons in that situation. I would argue that the distinction matters little to HaShem and it is clear that He demands to be regarded in a particular way. B”H, for us frail as we are, He makes a path for us to walk and a way for us to be forgiven and redeemed to Him. The Mishkan, in it’s context, may be just that.

Leviticus 9:5 they brought what Moshe had ordered before the tent of meeting, and the whole community approached and stood before HaShem.

LEV 9:5

This is called, by chazal, a “miracle of space” where 600,000 fighting-age men, or approximately 3 million people are all said to have fit in a tiny area.

Leviticus 9:6 Moshe said, “This is what HaShem has ordered you to do, so that the glory of HaShem will appear to you.”

LEV 9:6

It really sounds like this was all done to correct the error of the sin of the golden calf. Something about that feels off to me as it clashes with my perception of the Mishkan and Tabernacle as a representation of Eden, which was lost to Man by sin. Here we have a sin arguably much worse than that in Eden and instead of pushing Israel away, He pulls them closer, or enables them to draw closer to Him.

Leviticus 9:7-16

7 Moshe told Aharon, “Approach the altar, offer your sin offering and burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and the people. Then present the offering of the people and make atonement for them, as HaShem ordered.” 8 So Aharon approached the altar and slaughtered the calf of the sin offering which was for himself. 9 The sons of Aharon presented the blood to him; and he dipped his finger in the blood and put it on the horns of the altar; then he poured out the blood at the base of the altar. 10 But the fat, the kidneys and the covering of the liver of the sin offering he made go up in smoke on the altar, as HaShem had ordered Moshe. 11 The meat and the skin were burned up completely outside the camp.

12 Next he slaughtered the burnt offering; Aharon’s sons brought him the blood, and he splashed it against all sides of the altar. 13 They brought him the burnt offering, piece by piece, and the head; and he made them go up in smoke on the altar. 14 He washed the inner organs and the lower parts of the legs and made them go up in smoke on top of the burnt offering on the altar.

15 Then the people’s offering was presented. He took the goat of the sin offering which was for the people, slaughtered it and offered it for sin, like the earlier sin offering. 16 The burnt offering was presented, and he offered it in the prescribed manner.

LEV 9:7-16

Aharon is ordered to do things in a particular way and he does them. What is this “prescribed manner” in LEV 9:16? Does that have to do with the earlier details of the burnt offering from LEV 1:3-17? It has been said that such statements are an allusion to the Oral Torah found in the Written Torah

Aliyah 2 – Leviticus 9:17-23

Leviticus 9:22 Aharon raised his hands toward the people, blessed them and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering and the peace offerings.

LEV 9:22

With what blessing did he bless the people? Was this commanded by HaShem? Some might say it is the “Aaronic Benediction,” and that may be, but I think it only ever appears in NUM 26 and it is in no way connected to this. The passage it is in has to do with the Nazarite vow. There is no strict chronological order in the Torah, so I wonder if it was in fact the Aaronic Benediction or if it was something else.

Aliyah 3 – Leviticus 9:24-10:11

Leviticus 9:24 Fire came forth from the presence of HaShem, consuming the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

LEV 9:24

This makes me wonder again if HaShem’s presence had been hidden from the People of Israel for a time. Surely they had seen amazing sights throughout their time in the Wilderness, but only 40 days after the Sinai revelation they had erred in a tremendous way. Did they doubt HaShem would remain with them? Was this reaction relief and ecstasy at the revelation that HaShem would still be their G-d?

Aliyah 4 – Leviticus 10:12-15

Leviticus 10:14 The breast that was waved and the thigh that was raised you are to eat in a clean place — you, your sons and your daughters with you; for these are given as your and your children’s share of the sacrifices of the peace offerings presented by the people of Isra’el.

LEV 10:14

This is a blessing to Aharon and his descendants to be sure, but in the context of the death of his sons, it feels heavy and melancholic. Is the specific mention of daughters made, less to instruct and to comfort Aharon that he will have descendants who won’t be imperiled by the weighty responsibility of the Tabernacle service?

Aliyah 5 – Leviticus 10:16-20

Leviticus 10:19 Aharon answered Moshe, “Even though they offered their sin offering and burnt offering today, things like these have happened to me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have pleased HaShem?”

LEV 10:19

Who became angry with Aharon in this situation HaShem or Moshe? Moshe. Why? On behalf of HaShem. Why did Nadav and Avihu die? Because they of their unauthorized incense. Aharon had a point, it seems he decided not to eat the meat of the sacrifice because it wouldn’t please HaShem at that time, in his state.

It seems to me that HaShem will deal with people as he sees fit and there is no need for us to become angry on His behalf and start conflict with fellow believers. We should be careful to keep this in mind.

Aliyah 6 – Leviticus 11:1-32

Leviticus 11:2 Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘These are the living creatures which you may eat among all the land animals:

LEV 11:2

Why would HaShem prohibit Israel from eating certain foods? The reason isn’t clear in this aliyah. It seems to have to do with restraint and self-control. There is a power in saying “no” and in denying one’s self. That is likely an aspect of what is going on here. Unmarried people are supposed to remain virgins, theft isn’t right because you want something, murder isn’t right just because you are angry. There is a time and place for everything and certain things are off limits. HaShem sets those limits and standards.

Aliyah 7 – Leviticus 11:33-47

Leviticus 11:44 For I am HaShem your G-d; therefore, consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am holy; and do not defile yourselves with any kind of swarming creature that moves along the ground.

LEV 11:44

I reject the assertion that the dietary laws have anything to do with health. HaShem states here that they are for Israel to consecrate themselves and be holy or set apart because He is their G-d, they belong to Him, they are His people. Enough said.

Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

  1. The eight day of what?
  2. Did HaShem need the Mishkan before the golden calf incident?
  3. Are HaShem’s Glory and Presence different?

That concludes my journey through Shemini for the year 5782.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.

Published by MJ Muñoz

Husband. Father. Believer. Writer. Publishing weekly toku analysis while working on a series of children's books inspired by tokusatsu.

2 thoughts on “The Eighth Day of What? – 5782 Shemini Aliyah by Aliyah

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