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Parashah 26 Shemini

Leviticus 9:1 – 11:47

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted 

Torah Readings:

  1. 9:1-16
  2. 9:17-23
  3. 9:24 – 10:11
  4. 10:12-15
  5. 10:16-20
  6. 11:1-32
  7. 11:33-47
  8. Maftir: 11:45-47


Haftarah: 2 Samuel 6:1 – 7:17 (A); 6:1-19 (S)


means “eighth”


The First Aliyah, 9:1-16

9:1    It happened on the eighth day, that Moshe called Aharon and his sons, and the elders of Yisra'el”(HNV) – According to Rashi and Midrash literature, this eighth day coincided with the first day of the first month of the second year, the first of Nissan, see Exodus 40:2, 17.

The eighth day, the day following a period of seven days, is something special in the Scriptures.

  • It is the day when male infants are circumcised.

  • It is the eighth day after the Feast of Succot that is called Shemini Atseret.

  • It is the day Yeshua was raised from the dead.

  • Since one day represents a thousand years, the eighth day symbolizes the eighth millennia after the creation of man. Then the new heavens and the new earth will be revealed and the Messiah will turn the kingdom over to the Father.                    

9:2    “and he said to Aharon, ‘Take a calf from the herd for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before HaShem.’”(HNV revised) – Now it was Aharon’s turn to offer a sacrifice for the first time in his life. The first thing he was to offer was a bull calf as a sin offering. Normally, priests would offer a bull as a sin offering, see Leviticus 4:3, but here Aharon is commanded to offer a bull calf. According to a Midrash[1] and Rashi, this was in order to atone for Aharon’s sin with the golden calf. Sifrah claims, however, that this sin was already forgiven through Moshe’s intercession.

9:6    “Moshe said, ‘This is the thing which HaShem commanded that you should do: and the glory of HaShem shall appear to you.”(HNV revised) – These are the steps that must be taken in order to experience the glory of HaShem:

·         “This is the thing which HaShem commanded” – Torah studies.

·         “that you should do” – obedience to the Torah with a correct motivation.

·         “the glory of HaShem shall appear to you” – the result of the first two.

9:7    “Moshe said to Aharon, ‘Draw near to the altar, and offer your sin offering, and your ascension offering, and make atonement for yourself, and for the people; and offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them; as HaShem commanded.’”(HNV revised) – Moshe tells Aharon a second time to present his offering. This could easily make us think that Aharon was doubtful and did not dare present his offering. Moshe encourages him again to take his place as the high priest and perform his work. This Scripture passage teaches us that we should not be overly ashamed of sins that have already been forgiven. We know that HaShem has provided a complete sacrifice for us so that we can carry out a consecrated service before Him. HaShem had forgiven Aharon. It is possible, however, that his conscience was still troubling him and that he was ashamed of his great sin.

This text reveals to us HaShem’s great compassion as he allows a great sinner to be placed in the highest position in the nation. Aharon is a wonderful example of the forgiveness of HaShem.

Dear Reader. If you have repented of all your sins, even if some of them were serious sins before the Eternal, if you have confessed your sins, asked for forgiveness, and placed your trust in HaShem’s mercy, then you can be certain that he has forgiven you, as it is written in 1 John 1:9,

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(HNV)

It is also written in Jeremiah 31:34b,

“for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.”(HNV)

This text teaches us that when HaShem forgives, he also makes sure to forget our sins. Even so, the more we grow spiritually, the more we will realize the gravity of our past sins, as it is written in Psalm 25:7,

“Don’t remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions. Remember me according to your loving kindness, for your goodness’ sake, HaShem.”(HNV revised)

The Spirit of HaShem, who teaches us everything, also reminds us of the sins of our youth. When we, as beginners in the faith, repent of our sins, we are not fully aware of how serious our sins really are. Therefore, the more mature in our faith we become, the greater sinners we consider ourselves to have been as we look back and are ashamed for what we have done. This is the work of the Spirit.

 But, doesn’t the Scripture say, according to the renewed covenant, that HaShem never again remembers our sins?

Yes, that is correct. He forgets about them in the sense that he never reminds us of them, in order to humiliate us or make us feel guilty. That is what the accuser, satan, does. When HaShem forgives us our sins, he does it fully, and he looks upon us as if we had never committed those sins.

In spite of this, there is a maturing process within the repentant sinner’s awareness of the seriousness of what he has done. It is not for the purpose of condemning or shaming him, but to show him HaShem’s amazing compassion and the powerful result of the Messiah’s redemption. HaShem’s Spirit also reminds us of the evil that we have done so that we do not become prideful, but remain humble. Never forget from where HaShem has brought you!

In shaliach Shaul’s life we can see this process of his awareness growing, concerning the gravity of the sins he had committed in his youth, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 15:9,

“For I am the least of the emissaries, who is not worthy to be called an emissary, because I persecuted the assembly of God.”(HNV revised)

This is one of the apostle’s first letters. Later on we see how the awareness of the gravity of his sin had increased. Now he no longer speaks of himself as the least only of the emissaries, but as the least of the sanctified ones, as it is written in Ephesians 3:8,

“To me, the very least of all the sanctified ones, was this grace given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Messiah”(HNV revised)

At the end of his life, he speaks of himself as the greatest of all sinners, not because of things he was doing then as a mature believer, but because of the things he had done in his youth, as it is written in 1 Timothy 1:15-16,

“The saying is faithful and worthy of all acceptance, that Messiah Yeshua came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. However, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Yeshua the Messiah might display all his patience, for an example of those who were going to believe in him for eternal life.”(HNV)

It is completely true that our sins have been erased and that we have forgiveness for them through the death of the Messiah, which is represented by the sin offerings. However, the more we grow spiritually, the more we understand the seriousness of what we have done. Then an immense gratefulness will grow in us, which produces eternal praise to HaShem for the Messiah’s work of salvation that has reached us.

The Second Aliyah, 9:17-23

9:22 “Aharon lifted up his hands toward the people, and blessed them; and he came down from offering the sin offering, and the ascension offering, and the peace offerings.”(HNV revised) – Here we see how Aharon blessed the people. According to Rashi, he gave them the priestly blessing, in Hebrew birkat kohanim, which is found in Numbers 6:24-26, where it is written,

“HaShem bless you, and keep you. HaShem make his face to shine on you, and be gracious to you. HaShem lift up his face toward you, and give you shalom.”(HNV revised)

Nachmanides says, however, that this was not the same blessing.

9:23 “Moshe and Aharon went into the Tent of Meeting, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of HaShem appeared to all the people.”(HNV revised) – HaShem had promised to reveal his glory that day, but in spite of the fact that Aharon had done everything he was responsible to do and then blessed the people, the glory of HaShem did not come. There was a great risk at that time for Aharon to begin to doubt HaShem’s forgiveness, or to doubt that he really had fulfilled everything that each offering required. He could have doubted whether he was truly qualified for the position of being the great priest of the people of Israel. Why was the glory not revealed when Aharon had completed everything, but only once Moshe, together with Aharon, blessed the people? Rashi gives two explanations as to why Moshe entered the consecrated area together with Aharon:

  • They entered the tabernacle so that Moshe could show Aharon how to light the incense.

  • They entered the tabernacle in order to ask HaShem together, to send his shechinah, his manifested presence.

HaShem’s glory did not come until both brothers were in unity and blessed the people together. First they studied the Torah. Then they obeyed the Torah and offered the sacrifices as instructed, but HaShem’s glory was still not revealed. This teaches us that what finally brings HaShem’s glory over us is unity among brothers. In Psalm 133, we can see the connection between the unity and the priestly anointing, as it is written,

“Hine ma tov…”

See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, that ran down on the beard, even Aharon’s beard; that came down on the edge of his robes; Like the dew of Hermon, that comes down on the hills of Tziyon: for there HaShem gives the blessing, even life forevermore.”(HNV revised)

There are several examples in the Scriptures of brothers in the flesh who served HaShem together in a powerful way: Moshe and Aharon, Efrayim and Menasheh, Peter and Andrew, Ya’akov and Yochanan, Ya’akov and Yehudah (two of Yeshua’s half brothers).

If Moshe and Aharon had not had such unity between them, HaShem’s shechinah would not have been revealed that day. This teaches us that if we do not live in unity, the shechinah will not come over us.

In James 4:1, it is written,

Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don’t they come from your desires that war in your members?”(HNV revised)

 This text gives us the key to understanding the source of war and fighting among brothers and sister: desires. Egotistic desires are what cause strife among brothers and sisters.

In 1 Corinthians 3:3, it is written,

“for you are still fleshly. For insofar as there is jealousy, strife, and factions among you, aren’t you fleshly, and don’t you walk in the ways of men?”(HNV)

We see that jealousy and strife are products of the flesh, the yetser ha-rah. The remedy for these types of conflicts is to walk in the spirit, to nourish the spirit so that the fruit of the spirit can dominate over the evil desires of the flesh.

1 Corinthians 13 speaks about the Messiah’s character in us. Here we can see that love is the solution for conflicts, as it is written in verses 4-7,

“Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”(HNV)

The Third Aliyah, 9:24 – 10:11

9:24 “There came forth fire from before HaShem, and consumed the ascension offering and the fat upon the altar: and when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”(HNV revised) – HaShem’s glory was revealed as a consuming fire. Through this he demonstrated that he was very pleased with Aharon’s offering. This teaches us that Aharon’s heart was dedicated to HaShem. HaShem does not receive the offerings of the wicked, as it is written in Proverbs 15:8,

“The sacrifice made by the wicked is an abomination to HaShem, but the prayer of the upright is his delight.”(HNV revised)

In Proverbs 21:27, it is written,

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination: how much more, when he brings it with a wicked mind!”(HNV)

In Ecclesiastes 5:1, it is written,

“Guard your steps when you go to God’s house; for to draw near to listen is better than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they don’t know that they do evil.”(HNV revised)

HaShem’s fire falls on sacrifices that are offered with hearts that are completely dedicated to Him, as it is written in 1 Kings 18:38,

“Then the fire of HaShem fell, and consumed the ascension offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.”(HNV revised)

In 1 Chronicles 21:26, it is written,

“David built there an altar to HaShem, and offered ascension offerings and peace-offerings, and called on HaShem; and he answered him from the sky by fire on the altar of ascension offering.”(HNV revised)

In 2 Chronicles 7:1, it is written,

“Now when Shelomo had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the ascension offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of HaShem filled the house.”(HNV revised)

In Acts 2:3, it is written,

“Tongues like fire appeared and were distributed to them, and one sat on each of them.”(HNV)

If we want to experience the glory of HaShem’s fire in our lives, we must give ourselves as ascension offerings with hearts completely dedicated to Him. The heavenly fire will be missing whenever complete dedication is missing.

“when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” – The Hebrew word that is translated “shouted” is ranan.[2] According to Onkelos’ Targum, quoted by Rashi, it means that the people sang praise songs. Ibn Ezra, however, understands this word as meaning “they raised their voices”.

Here it says that they fell on their faces. This teaches us that when the shechinah comes in power, man falls to the ground, see Daniel 10:8-9; John 18:6; Acts 26:14. In some cases one can become blind, as in the case with Shaliach Shaul on the way to Damesek, see Acts 9.

10:1 “Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, each took his censer, and put fire in it, and laid incense on it, and offered strange fire before HaShem, which he had not commanded them.”(HNV revised) – Aharon received the judgment of being destroyed because of his sin with the golden calf. It is written that HaShem wanted to “destroy” him, see Deuteronomy 9:20, which meant that his seed would be annihilated. When he was forgiven, his son’s lives were also spared. Two of them died here anyway, as they ministered in rebellion. They ministered in a way that HaShem had not commanded.

Here it talks about strange fire. This expression, “strange fire”, could mean that the fire was taken from a strange source. However, it could also mean that the fire was offered incorrectly, i.e. without obedience to authority. They ministered without having received orders to do it, even though what they did was correct. The problem was not with what they were offering, but with the attitude they had and in whose authority they acted. They had not received permission to offer, and therefore they died. If we do things our own way, HaShem will not be pleased with us.

The thing that was “strange” about this fire was that HaShem had not ordered it. Rashi quotes the opinion of Midrash literature,[3] which claims that they stated a halachah in the presence of their teacher, Moshe. It was permissible for the priests to offer up fire on the altar and therefore they had come to a correct conclusion. Their fault consisted in the fact that they did not ask their spiritual authority for permission. This rebellious attitude brought very serious consequences.

Rabbi Ishmael says that they were intoxicated with wine when they entered the sanctuary. That is why the command is given later, that priests are not allowed to drink wine while they are in a time of ministry, see Leviticus 10:9.

There is yet another interpretation which states that they tried to go into the most consecrated area, since this event is mentioned in Leviticus 16, where it talks about the day when the high priest was allowed to enter the most consecrated area, see 16:1-2.

10:3 “Then Moshe said to Aharon, ‘This is what HaShem spoke of, saying, “I will show myself sacred to those who come near me, and before all the people I will be glorified.”’ Aharon held his peace.”(HNV revised) – The closer we are to HaShem, the more consecration is required. If one of the people had made a similar mistake, it is possible that he would not have died for it. However, when those who stand near HaShem sin, they will suffer serious consequences for their sin. A leader has more rights, but at the same time, more is required of him. Rights and responsibility always go hand in hand. In order to have rights in the Kingdom, one must have a higher level of discipline and make more personal sacrifices.

“This is what HaShem spoke of” – When did HaShem speak this? It seems as though Moshe is paraphrasing Exodus 29:43-44, where it is written,

“There I will meet with the children of Yisra'el; and the place shall be sanctified by my glory. I will sanctify the tent of meeting and the altar: Aharon also and his sons I will sanctify, to minister to me in the priest’s office.”(HNV revised)

Without consecration, there is no glory. Glory without consecration is deadly. The same fire that is mentioned in 9:24 is at work in 10:2. The leaders who stand as mediators for the people so that they can receive the Heavenly presence, the shechinah, must carry out their ministry with great care.

Someone might think, “What demands HaShem puts for his temple ministry! If one little mistake is made, one dies! HaShem is so cruel!”

Why shouldn’t HaShem be demanding concerning the ministry unto Him? Do not the passengers of an airplane expect the pilot not to make any mistakes that could risk the lives of those in his care? Do not the patients of a surgeon demand that he be very careful as he operates on a brain or an eye? If we demand perfection from the people in who hold our lives in the balance, should we not demand perfection from those who draw near to HaShem on account of the people? The life and death of the people are in the hands of the priests. If they do not minister perfectly, HaShem cannot forgive the people their sins.

And besides, if HaShem really is first and foremost in our lives, how can we help but bring Him offerings that have been prepared with greatest of care and zeal? Half-heartedness or carelessness in HaShem’s kingdom is not good when it comes to preparations. Love for HaShem will be expressed in our prudence to do things in the very best way for Him. Those who do not take these things seriously are revealing that HaShem does not mean much to them.

Are there things in our lives or congregations that are considered strange fire? Fire represents inspiration. Could the inspiration behind what is being offered to HaShem be coming from an unclean source? Where is the inspiration for the things we do unto HaShem coming from? What is the source behind what we offer?

There is a double source for inspiration needed in order to sing to HaShem in the Messiah, as it is written in Ephesians 5:18-20:

Don’t be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing, and singing praises in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, to God, even the Father”(HNV revised)

And in Colossians 3:16, it is written,

Let the word of Messiah dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord.”(HNV)

These two texts show us that the double source, which makes up the inspiration for our offerings of worship before the Father, consists of the Messiah’s Spirit and Word.

One can discuss what kind of songs ought to be used for worship of HaShem in the assembly. Is it permitted to take songs from the world and offer them to the Father? Is he at peace with that type of instrument use and singing? In order to find answers, we must ask the question, “Where is the inspiration coming from? From the spirit of the world or from heaven? From unclean people or from the Messiah’s Spirit and Word? Is there a desire for fame? Does it produce sexual desires? Is there anger, rebellion, or screaming behind it? In that case it is reprehensible. If it produces harmony, love, respect, and admiration of beauty etc., it can be something good. The source behind a great part of the worldly popular music is evil.

“I will show myself consecrated to those who come near me” – Being consecrated has to do with nearness. The higher we come in our consecration, the closer we can come to HaShem. The road of consecration is on the heights. No wild animals can come there, as it is written in Isaiah 35:8-9,

“A highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of sanctity. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for him who walks in the Way. Wicked fools will not go there. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous animal go up thereon; they shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there”(HNV revised)

Demons cannot touch a consecrated person. On the contrary, they flee from such a person. They cannot stand him, as it is written in Luke 4:34,

“saying, ‘Ah! what have we to do with you, Yeshua of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the consecrated One of God!’”(HNV)

The demon was afraid of Yeshua’s level of consecration. He does not mention Yeshua’s power, but his consecration. Consecration is what disturbs evil spirits more than anything. They offer power without consecration, but this power is self-destructive, as it is written in Ezekiel 28:18,

By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your traffic, you have profaned your sanctuaries; therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of you; it has devoured you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all those who see you”(HNV)

There is a kind of supernatural power that operates without consecration, but there is no consecration without supernatural power. Power without consecration burns and destroys man, but the power of consecration destroys the power of evil, both within us and through us. Let us seek to be consecrated first and foremost. Then we will be capable of using HaShem’s power properly.

VaYikra is a book about sanctity and consecration. A servant of HaShem that has been placed in the position of leadership, must have a higher level of consecration than the rest of the people.

Aharon held his peace” – When one presents an offering, one may not be sad or depressed. If this is the case, the offerings won’t be pleasing. By his silence, Aharon revealed that he loved HaShem more than his own sons. The family cannot be a hindrance for serving HaShem, as it is written in Matthew 10:37,

He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn’t worthy of me.”(HNV)

10:4 “Moshe called Misha'el and Eltzafan, the sons of `Uzzi'el the uncle of Aharon, and said to them, ‘Draw near, carry your brothers from before the sanctuary out of the camp.’”(HNV) – A priest is allowed to become ritually unclean by close relatives in one of the seven following positions: father, mother, wife, brothers, sisters, sons, or daughters. In this case, however, they were in the process of being dedicated as priests, and they were not allowed to touch a dead body. If they did, their ministry would have been disqualified. That is why the cousins were called upon to help.

10:6 “Moshe said to Aharon, and to El`azar and to Itamar, his sons, ‘Don’t let the hair of your heads go loose, neither tear your clothes; that you don’t die, and that he not be angry with all the congregation: but let your brothers, the whole house of Yisra'el, bewail the burning which HaSehm has kindled.’”(HNV revised) – The Hebrew word that is translated “loose” is tifra’u, which comes from the root parah,[4] which means “expose”, “uncover”, see Numbers 5:18, as well as “disturb”, “distract”, see Exodus 5:4. In this case, however, this word is understood as not allowing the hair to grow, as in Leviticus 13:45. The word pera[5] is found in Numbers 6:5 and Ezekiel 44:20, and comes from the same root and means “hair” or “lock”. This is one of the 613 commandments. Priests are not allowed to let their hair grow for more than thirty days because this is a sign of mourning. Having your hair cut is a sign of joy. A priest may not look as though he is in mourning. According to Talmud,[6] it is forbidden to cut one’s hair or beard while in mourning.

 On the other hand, it is forbidden to shave one’s hair and beard. The Torah teaches us to live a discreet lifestyle, and then it is not good to be extreme in one way or another.

10:7 “‘You shall not go out from the door of the Tent of Meeting, lest you die; for the anointing oil of HaShem is on you.’ They did according to the word of Moshe.”(HNV revised) – This teaches us that the anointing oil was only given for the purpose of serving HaShem. If it was used for anything else, the punishment would be death. Satan tried to persuade Yeshua to use his anointing for personal gain, but he was immediately denied by our Rabbi, see Matthew 4:3-10.

10:9-11 “Drink no wine nor strong drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, that you don’t die: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations: and that you are to make a distinction between the consecrated and the common, and between the unclean and the clean; and that you are to teach the children of Yisra'el all the statutes which HaShem has spoken to them by Moshe.”(HNV revised) – The use of alcohol is forbidden within the priestly ministry. Being intoxicated will have three primary effects (in its immediate implications): dizziness, excessive self-confidence, and reduction in the brain’s activity. The reason that alcohol is forbidden is that it reduces the intellectual capacity of discerning one thing from another. One who drinks alcohol does not have a clear mind for teaching Torah to the people. This lines up with what is written in Ephesians 5:18,

“Don’t be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit”(HNV)

Being intoxicated with alcohol gives the opposite effect of being full of the Spirit. Instead of reducing the mind’s capacity, the Spirit increases it drastically.

The halachah says that a kohen, priest, may not drink more than a revi’it of wine before performing his avodah, his ministry. If he does, heaven will assure that he dies. A revi’it is approximately 86 milliliters (3 oz.).[7]

The Fourth Aliyah, 10:12-15

10:14 “The waved breast and the heaved thigh you shall eat in a clean place, you, and your sons, and your daughters with you: for they are given as your portion, and your sons’ portion, out of the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the children of Yisra'el.”(HNV revised) – The daughters of the priests could eat certain offerings in a “clean place”. This means that the offerings did not have to be eaten in the outer court only, but they could be eaten outside it as well. According to Rashi, this “clean place” consisted of the entire camp of the Israelites, since a person with tzara’at (which is translated “leprosy”) could not enter it. Then the camp would have become unclean. At the time of the temples, the area within the walls of Yerushalayim was considered a clean place. This teaches us that the offerings that were on a lower level of consecration, in Hebrew kodashim kalim, could be eaten outside the temple, within the wall of Yerushalayim.

The Fifth Aliyah, 10:16-20

10:16 “Moshe diligently inquired about the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burned: and he was angry with El`azar and with Itamar, the sons of Aharon who were left, saying…”(HNV) – Moshe was very intent on making sure that the heavenly commandments were followed to the last detail. It was on account of this attitude that he was called a faithful servant, as it is written in Numbers 12:7,

“My servant Moshe is not so; he is faithful in all my house”(HNV)

 According to Rashi, they had offered three goats of the sin offering that day: the goat of the sin offering for the priests’ dedication, see Leviticus 9:3; the goat of the sin offering that was presented by Nachshon, the chief of the tribe of Yehudah, see Numbers 7:16; the goat of the sin offering for the Rosh Chodesh offering, the offering of the new moon, see Numbers 28:15. This was therefore a question of the goat of the sin offering for the first day of the month of Nissan. For some reason the priests had not eaten it. The sages give different suggestions for why this happened. The first interpretation says that the offering had become unclean through contact with a source of uncleanness. In that case it was not to be eaten. The second interpretation says that it was burned up completely because Aharon and his surviving sons were in mourning. Since this offering would be offered again on every future Rosh Chodesh, it did not have the same priority as the offerings of the priests’ dedication. Therefore they made the decision not to eat it. The offerings that do not concern the priestly dedication are not eaten by a priest in mourning on the first day of the period of mourning.

10:19 “Aharon spoke to Moshe, ‘Behold, this day they have offered their sin offering and their ascension offering before HaShem; and such things as these have happened to me: and if I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been pleasing in the sight of HaShem?’”(HNV revised) – Only a Kohen HaGadol, a great priest, a high priest, had the right to eat of the meat of an offering while in mourning without the offerings being disqualified. (One who is in mourning is called onen in Hebrew.) Here we see that Aharon still did not want to eat of the meat of the sin offering because he did not consider it pleasing to HaShem.

The Sixth Aliyah, 11:1-32

11:2 “Speak to the children of Yisra'el, saying, ‘These are the living things which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth.’”(HNV) – This chapter defines which animals are edible and which are prohibited for the children of Israel. The children of Israel have been set apart from the other nations in order to be different. Therefore these laws are an obligation for all the Jews, but not for the gentiles. However, if those who have been chosen in the Messiah among the nations consider these rules they will do well, because they are ways to be elevated in sanctity.

The food that they eat is one of the most important things that mark the difference between the children of Israel and other people. This chapter teaches us that what man eats is very important to HaShem. From the beginning He has been very interested in man’s diet. The first commandment given to man had to do with food. Sin came into the world through forbidden food. So, if what man eats is so important to HaShem, it ought to be important to man as well. HaShem is the one who determines what is of greater or lesser importance to man. The Scriptures teach us that what we eat is very important. Food has a lot to do with consecration and sin.

The commandments that deal with which animals are edible and which are not, are considered chukim. This means that they do not have a logical explanation.

A meal or an object that is considered suitable for Jewish or Israelite consumption is called kasher,[8] which means “correct”, “right”, “acceptable”, “suitable”. This word is found three times in the Scriptures, see Ecclesiastes 10:10; 11:6; Esther 8:5.

People have made several attempts to explain why certain animals are considered clean and others unclean. In the end, however, man must admit that he cannot understand fully why HaShem gave these instructions. It is very probable that we will never receive a satisfactory explanation as to why HaShem considers some animals unclean. The reason we should consider them unclean is that the Torah says they are unclean, and that is all there is to it. If we try to dig deeper than the written word into these matters, we will run the risk of making mistakes in our evaluations.

 It is a basic principle that our obedience to these commands does not mainly have to do with hygiene, respect for nature, identification with certain animals, the risk of being poisoned, or other side effects in the human body. It has to do with our relationship to HaShem. We obey him simply because he has said these things. It is certainly true that when we obey the commandments we will enjoy a long life and health to our bodies. It is also true that the meat of several of these unclean animals is harmful and may contain things that are dangerous for man to eat. It is also true that the nature of the animals is in the blood, and if one eats of their blood, which is unavoidable when eating meat, it is possible that the nature of the animals affect the character of the person who eats it. These things are secondary, however, and the Torah does not focus on them. The Torah says that one who avoids eating certain animals that have been classified by heaven as unclean, will be consecrated. These rules have to do mainly with consecration, and consecration has a lot to do with food. Obedience to these commands will also bring healing. A bi-product of this obedience is health and prosperity in all things, but the primary purpose for these commandments is, as mentioned, not man’s health, but his consecration.

There is an expression that says, “Tell me who you fellowship with and I will tell you who you are”. At this point we could say, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are”.

 In this chapter we will see how the animals have been divided into four main groups, see Leviticus 11:46:

·         Animals that walk on the ground, 11:2-8.

·         Animals that are in the water, 11:9-12.

·         Birds and other animals that fly, 11:13-23.

·         Animals that move on the ground, 11:29-43.

11:3 “Whatever parts the hoof, and is cloven-footed, and chews the cud among the animals, that you may eat.”(HNV) – These two characteristics are given by the Torah in order that we may know the difference between the four-footed animals that are kasher and those that are not. Then the Torah goes on to describe four animals that have certain characteristics of clean animals, but are not. If either of these two characteristics is missing in an animal, it is not suitable to be eaten by a consecrated person.

The animals that are kasher must be prepared properly in order to still be suitable for consumption after they have been butchered. Oral tradition has established strict norms for the Jews so that the commandments of the Torah concerning kashrut will not be broken. An animal may not be butchered violently if it is to be kasher. One must kill it in a way that causes as much of the blood as possible to flow out. A sick animal is not suitable for eating. Before eating a clean animal, three things must be removed: the sciatic nerve, the fat of the intestines, and the blood, including certain blood vessels. The blood is removed by salt. First the meat is rinsed in water. Thereafter it sits in cold water for half an hour. Then coarse salt is sprinkled on both sides of the meat and they are placed on a grill so that the blood can drip out. This should not be done in the kitchen, but somewhere else. After about an hour, the meat is rinsed in a bowl of water. The water should be changed three times. The meat can also be rinsed under a faucet, but in for the salt to be removed, it needs to sit in water for a while. After this, the meat is ready to be cooked any way you want it. If the meat is grilled over fire, the kasher process with the salt is not needed. The fire has the same effect on the meat as the salt and it removes the rest of the blood from the meat. The liver cannot be salted, it must be grilled in order to be considered kasher.

There are many other details concerning kashrut, but we will not go into them here.

11:4 “Nevertheless these you shall not eat of those that chew the cud, or of those who part the hoof: the camel, because he chews the cud but doesn’t have a parted hoof, he is unclean to you.”(HNV) – The camel does not have hooves that are completely parted. Therefore it is not kasher. The Jews may neither eat of its meat nor drink of its milk. The word that is translated as “unclean” is tameh,[9] which means “unclean”, “spotted”, “profane”. The opposite of tameh is tahor,[10] which means “clean”, “honest”, see 11:47. It is important for us to understand that there are three kinds of uncleanness in the Scriptures:

·         Hygienic uncleanness

·         Ritual uncleanness

·         Moral uncleanness

If we do not differentiate between these three, we cannot understand what the Scriptures are saying at each occasion. In this case the classification of these animals as tameh or tahor does not have anything to do with hygiene. It is not the hygiene of the unclean animals that separates them from the clean animals. Neither does it have anything to do with moral uncleanness. Some of the animals suitable for eating do not have very high morals. This is a question of ritual uncleanness.

A Jew who eats of an unclean animal will become ritually unclean and would not be able to enter the court of the temple or eat of the offerings. In other words, being ritually unclean means not being able to come too near HaShem. HaShem does not allow a person who is tameh to be very close to his presence. Being tameh forces man to keep his distance from HaShem. Consecration has to do with nearness. In order to be consecrated, one must remove all ritual uncleanness. That is the reason these kashrut rules have been given to the people of Israel as the Eternal’s priests for the benefit of the nations.

11:5 “The coney, because he chews the cud but doesn’t have a parted hoof, he is unclean to you.”(HNV) – The Hebrew word that is translated “chews the cud” is ma’alat, which comes from the root alah,[11] “going up”. Ma’alat literally means “that lifts (the food)”. These animals regurgitate the food from the stomach and chew it thoroughly. Animals that chew the cud have three or four stomachs. When they eat, they swallow the food into the first stomach. Then the food moves to the second stomach. From there the food is “lifted” again to the mouth. After this, they swallow it down into the third stomach. That is what chewing the cud means.

11:6 “The hare, because she chews the cud but doesn’t part the hoof, she is unclean to you.”(HNV) – The Hebrew word that is translated “hare” is arnevet. Sometimes it is translated as rabbit. Rabbits reingest their own droppings.

11:7 “The pig, because he has a split hoof, and is cloven-footed, but doesn’t chew the cud, he is unclean to you.”(HNV) – The pig is unclean to the children of Israel. It is obviously also unclean to Pagans. However, since Pagans are far away from the God of Israel, this is not an important issue to them. But those of the Gentiles who have received the salvation that is in the Messiah Yeshua don’t ought to eat these unclean animals in order to be able to come up to a higher level of consecration and thus be able to come nearer to HaShem. The God of Israel has said that these animals are tameh. They are not fit to be eaten by a people who are near him. As long as heaven and earth remain, He will not change His norms, see Matthew 5:18. The pig did not become a clean animal when the Messiah died. HaShem does not change His norms. What was white yesterday continues to be white today. If He has said that the pig is an unclean animal and that the children of Israel do not have the right to eat pig, then that is the way it is.

11:8 “Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean to you.”(HNV) – Jews are permitted to touch animals that are tameh as long as they are alive, for example dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and donkeys. They are even permitted to touch their dead bodies under several conditions. The dead body of an unclean animal does not have the same level of uncleanness as a human corpse. A dead human body is the greatest source of ritual uncleanness.

We should understand this text to mean that it is forbidden to touch the dead bodies of these animals before going to the temple or eating of the offerings. Rashi says that the commandment about not touching the dead bodies of these unclean animals is limited to the times of the feasts. During the feasts all the men are to come before HaShem in Yerushalayim and then they cannot be ritually unclean.

11:9 “These you may eat of all that are in the waters: whatever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, that you may eat.”(HNV) – There are two signs that show whether or not a fish is kasher. As long as it is in the water it must have fins and scales. Some fish lose their scales when they come out of the water, for example mackerel. These fish are still kasher. Eating the entire kasher fish is permitted, even the blood. Fish is the cleanest animal there is. It does not need to be prepared in order to be fit to eat. Eating raw fish is permitted, just not fish that is alive.

11:10-12 “All that don’t have fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of all the living creatures that are in the waters, they are an abomination to you, and you detest them. You shall not eat of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses. Whatever has no fins nor scales in the waters, that is detestable to you.”(HNV revised) – The word “detest” is a very strong word. This is the attitude that a Jew ought to have concerning shellfish and other water animals that do not have fins and scales. The word “detest” is repeated three times. This teaches us that it is important. For a consecrated people lobster, shrimp, sharks and dolphins are detestable as food. This is the way Yeshua thinks.

11:13 “These you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the gier-eagle, and the ospray”(HNV revised) – There are twenty-four unclean species among the birds. The rest are clean. There is a general rule that we have learned from experience: a completely round bird egg comes from a bird that is tameh and an oval egg comes from a bird that is tahor. By following this rule, we can know which birds are unclean and are mentioned in the Torah and which are clean, suitable for HaShems people to eat.

11:14 “and the red kite, any kind of black kite”(HNV) – According to Rashi, there are several kinds of each of the species of birds that are mentioned in the list. These kinds are not similar to each other in looks or in their names even though they belong to the same species.

11:22 “Even of these you may eat: any kind of arbeh, any kind of katydid, any kind of cricket, and any kind of grasshopper.”(HNV) – These four are the only kinds of grasshoppers that the Torah allows for eating, see Matthew 3:4.

11:24 “By these you will become unclean: whoever touches the carcass of them shall be unclean until the evening.”(HNV) – The dead body of an unclean animal transmits uncleanness. The human state of being unclean, tameh, lasts until sunset. When the sun has gone down, one is clean again, on the condition that the entire body has been dipped in a mikveh, a collection of purification water, see verse 32.

11:25 “Whoever carries any part of their carcass shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the evening.”(HNV) – Whoever touches the dead body of one of these animals must only dip himself in a mikveh and wait until the sun goes down in order to be ritually clean again, but whoever carries away any part of such a dead body must also wash his clothes.

11:26 “Every animal which parts the hoof, and is not cloven-footed, nor chews the cud, is unclean to you. Everyone who touches them shall be unclean.”(HNV) – These bodies only transmit uncleanness when they are dead, see verse 31.

The Seventh Aliyah, 11:33-47

11:36 “Only a spring and a cistern in which water is gathered shall be clean: but that which touches their carcass shall be unclean.”(HNV revised) – This verse contains the foundation for understanding the system of the mikveh. This text says that a system with a spring and a cistern where water gathers is the only thing that remains clean, no matter what comes into it. The result of that is therefore, that whatever comes into it is cleansed. If the mikveh has enough water, then each body that comes into it is considered done away with. This means that if an unclean body comes into a mikveh with the right conditions, that body is symbolically done away with together with the uncleanness. Then, when the body comes up out of the water, it is as if it was born again; it is clean.

In order to enter the temple in Yerushalayim, everyone had to go through a mikveh, a pool of cleansing water.

11:42a “Whatever goes on its belly…”(HNV) – According to Rashi, this is referring to the snake. The Hebrew word that is translated “belly” is gachon. The letter vav, which is the middle letter of the chumash, the five books of Moshe, is in this word. The meaning of the letter vav is “nail” or “sign”. The whole Torah, therefore, revolves around this letter vav. Vav is the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The number six represents man and his free choice, see Revelation 13:18. These things bring us to something very important: The entire Torah revolves around a man who was nailed as a sign. Who could this be?

In the chapter that deals with what animals are forbidden and permitted for eating, it speaks of one animal that goes on its belly. In this belly is the sign. That reminds us of the old serpent that was cursed and forced to walk on its belly. It was he who caused sin to enter the world. It was through forbidden food that sin entered into man’s belly and spread through his entire being. The salvation from this condition is that a man, around whom the whole universe revolves, would be filled with sin, cursed, and nailed to a tree. This is the sign, the core message of the Torah, that everyone who decides out of his own free will to believe and trust him, would not perish, but have everlasting life. Baruch HaShem!

11:43 “You shall not make your souls abominable with any creeping thing that creeps, neither shall you make yourselves unclean with them, that you should be defiled thereby.”(HNV revised) – The soul of any Jew who eats of any of these abominable things will be abominable before HaShem.

11:44 “For I am HaShem your God. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be sacred; for I am sacred: neither shall you defile yourselves with any kind of creeping thing that moves on the earth.”(HNV revised) – This is the first time that this phrase is found in the Scriptures, “be sacred, for I am sacred”, and it is written in relation to food. This teaches us that consecration depends largely on which food we eat.

11:45 “For I am HaShem who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be sacred, for I am sacred.”(HNV revised) – The Hebrew text says that HaShem brings the children of Israel out of Egypt. It is not something that only belongs in the past, but it is also for the present. By obeying the commandments, the people of Israel stop living as they did in Egypt where they ate all kinds of things that caused their souls to be abominable.

Thanks to the Torah and the Spirit of the Messiah as our motivation, also the chosen among the nations can leave the slavery in the present world system and embrace these rules of kashrut, which make them into a consecrated people, completely dedicated to HaShem.

This Parashah contains commandments number 149-165 of the 613 commandments.

  1. The prohibition of priests entering the temple with long hair, Leviticus 10:6.

  2. The prohibition of priests entering the temple with torn clothes, Leviticus 10:6.

  3. The prohibition of priests leaving the tent of meeting during the offering ministry, Leviticus 10:7.

  4. The prohibition of priests entering the temple while intoxicated, and the prohibition for anyone to pass a judgment under the same influence, Leviticus 10:9.

  5. The command to examine the animals to make sure that they have characteristics making them kasher, Leviticus 11:2-3.

  6. The prohibition of eating an animal that is not kasher, Leviticus 11:4-7.

  7. The command to examine fish to see if they have characteristics that make them kasher, Leviticus 11:9.

  8. The prohibition of eating fish that are not kasher, Leviticus 11:11.

  9. The prohibition of eating birds that are not kasher, Leviticus 11:13.

  10. The command to examine grasshoppers to see if they have characteristics making them kasher, Leviticus 11:21.

  11. The command about the uncleanness (tumah) of the eight animals which move (sheretz) on the ground and which are described in the Torah, Leviticus 11:29.

  12. The command to keep away from beverages and meals that are unclean (tameh), Leviticus 11:34.

  13. The command about an animal whose neck was not cut (nevelah), Leviticus 11:39.

  14. The prohibition of eating an animal that moves (sheretz) on the ground, Leviticus 11:41.

  15. The prohibition of eating small insects in seeds and fruit, Leviticus 11:42.

  16. The prohibition of eating unclean animals that move in the sea, Leviticus 11:43.

  17. The prohibition of eating insects that have surfaced when food or any other thing has decomposed or rotted, Leviticus 11:44.

[1]       Tanchumah 10.

[2]       Strong H7442 rânan, raw-nan', A primitive root; properly to creak (or emit a stridulous sound), that is, to shout (usually for joy): - aloud for joy, cry out, be joyful, (greatly, make to) rejoice, (cause to) shout (for joy), (cause to) sing (aloud, for joy, out), triumph.

[3]       Torat Kohanim 10:24.

[4]       Strong H6544 pâra‛, paw-rah', A primitive root; to loosen; by implication to expose, dismiss; figuratively absolve, begin: - avenge, avoid, bare, go back, let, (make) naked, set at nought, perish, refuse, uncover.

[5]       Strong H6545 pera‛, peh'-rah, From H6544; the hair (as dishevelled): - locks.

[6]       Moed Katán 14b.

[7]       According to Rav Chayim Na’eh.

[8]       Strong H3787 kâshêr, kaw-share', A primitive root properly to be straight or right; by implication to be acceptable; also to succeed or proser: - direct, be right, prosper.

[9]       Strong H2931 tòâmê', taw-may', From H2930; foul in a religious sense: - defiled, + infamous, polluted (-tion), unclean.

Strong 2930 tòâmê', taw-may', A primitive root; to be foul, especially in a ceremonial or moral sense (contaminated): - defile (self), pollute (self), be (make, make self, pronounce) unclean, X utterly.

[10]     Strong H2889 tòâhôr, tòâhôr, haw-hore', taw-hore', From H2891; pure (in a physical, chemical, ceremonial or moral sense): - clean, fair, pure (-ness).

Strong H2891 tòâhêr, taw-hare, A primitive root; properly to be bright; that is, (by implication) to be pure (physically sound, clear, unadulterated; Levitically uncontaminated; morally innocent or holy): - be (make, make self, pronounce) clean, cleanse (self), purge, purify (-ier, self).

[11]     Strong 5927 ‛âlâh, aw-law', A primitive root; to ascend, intransitively (be high) or active (mount); used in a great variety of senses, primary and secondary, literally and figuratively: - arise (up). (cause to) ascend up, at once, break [the day] (up), bring (up), (cause to) burn, carry up, cast up, + shew, climb (up), (cause to, make to) come (up), cut off, dawn, depart, exalt, excel, fall, fetch up, get up, (make to) go (away, up), grow (over), increase, lay, leap, levy, lift (self) up, light, [make] up, X mention, mount up, offer, make to pay, + perfect, prefer, put (on), raise, recover, restore, (make to) rise (up), scale, set (up), shoot forth (up), (begin to) spring (up), stir up, take away (up), work.