Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Short D’var for Parshat Shemini

Parshat Shemini
26 Nisan 5773 / April 5 – 6, 2013
Vayikra 9:1 – 11:40

A Short D’var for Parshat Shemini
by Zvi Bellin, MHHQ

This is the portion of 8. 8 is a mystical number that represents the realm beyond the natural order. 7 days in the weeks, culminating in Shabbat, and then 8 – there is always more than meets the eye.
This portion has a disturbing tale. The sons of Aaron are newly consecrated Priests. They make an offering to God and are killed for it. The basic understanding of this is that they worshipped in their way, not in the way God wanted from the nation. That is a big no-no.

This reminds me of a story about a couple that took a vow of silence within a spiritual community. For some reason, they were ousted from the community. They were in the middle of the desert, with no resources. Instead of breaking their vow and heading back home, they remained in the desert until one of them died. 

Spiritual practice can be dangerous. And as we see from Aaron’s sons, this is true for Judaism too. I appreciate the two Jewish values that seem to protect us from harm:

1.       Above all things – do not put your life in danger.
2.       Stay connected to community.

In this week of post-Pesach liberation, we can weigh these two values seriously as our first steps to building a safe and supportive environment for all.


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