Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Summary - Shmini

Parshat Hashavua - Shmini

This portion begins on the eighth day of preparing the Tabernacle. Aharon offers a Chatat (sin offering) and an Olah (burnt offering) and the Israelites offer a Chatat , an Olah and a Shelamim (peace offering). These are prepared by Aharon, together with a Mincha (grain offering), after which he blesses the people. Moshe and Aharon go into the Communion Tent and come out and again bless the people.
The Children of Israel are then shown G-d's glory. Fire descends from heaven and consumes all of the sacrifices on the altar. Aharon's sons, Nadav and Avihu, bring an unauthorised sacrifice, and a fire descends from G-d and kills them. Aaron and his sons, Elazar and Ithamar, are instructed not to mourn because they are Cohanim (Priests). Instead, the whole congregation mourns for Aharon's sons. The Cohanim are instructed never to enter the Ohel Moed (Tent of Meeting) intoxicated. Then they complete the inauguration service.
The portion continues with the kashrut (dietary) laws. Only animals that have split hooves and chew their cud may be eaten. Four animals are listed that only have one of these signs, the camel, the hyrax, the hare and the pig. Of the creatures that live in water, only those with fins and scales may be eaten. Birds that may not be eaten are listed; all other fowl may be eaten. Flying insects that walk on four legs may not be eaten, unless they have knees which extend above their feet that are used for hopping. Certain types of locust which fall into this category are listed.
Contact with the carcass of a non-Kosher animal renders a person tamei (ritually impure). Carrying the carcass also renders one's clothing tamei. There are eight small creeping animals (sheratzim) which make anyone who comes into contact with their carcasses tamei. The Torah gives some of the laws of tumah for utensils and foods which come into contact with a tamei object. Contact with the carcass of a kosher animal makes a person tamei. Eating from its carcass or carrying it also contaminates one's clothing. Any creature which crawls close to the ground, whether on its belly, four legs or many legs, may not be eaten.

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