Torah:Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47)Haftarah: (II Samuel 6:1-7:17)
Shabbat Parah is the Torah portion explaining the “Red Heifer” usually the week before Passover.
The Torah portion is about Moses instructing Aaron and his sons Nadav and Avihu concerning offerings for atonement of sins. Nadav and Avihu bring unauthorized fire offerings of their own, and G-d punishes them with death. G-d tells Moses and Aaron which foods are permitted and forbidden to be eaten.
The Torah parsha of the punishment of Nadav and Avihu appears to be severe, however they were told all requirements of offerings to G-d that are permitted. They were overstepping their father, Aaron the Kohen Gadol (High Priest). Aaron’s sons showed disrespect not only to their father but to G-d.
The key concepts and values found in this Sabbath’s Torah parshiot are the attainment of holiness. The rules of conduct of the priests were designed to keep foremost in their minds the task of distinguishing between good and evil. In addition, one of the purposes of the Jewish dietary laws is to help the individual strive after holiness.
The Laws of Kashrut: Keeping Kosher is the fundamental dietary laws of Judaism. The rabbinic sages taught that keeping Kosher is conducive to holiness. As the popular saying goes, “we are what we eat.” The observation of the dietary laws has, in large measure, enabled the Jewish people to survive through the ages in the midst of a hostile world.
This Torah portion carefully enumerates the animals that are permissible to be eaten and those forbidden to be eaten. Fish must have fins and scales, animals must have split hooves and chew their cuds.
Many reasons for the use of kashrut have been offered by commentators over the ages. The physician and scholar commentator Moses Maimonides believed that the foods forbidden by the laws of Torah are unfit for human consumption. Others, such as Abarbanel, wrote that the laws of kashrut protect the Jew’s spiritual health. Still others
explain that the dietary laws teach human beings to control their bodily appetites, Since eating is a continuing activity, values, traditions, and special obligations of Jewish living.
This Passover many Jews around the world may have challenges to maintain Kosher L’Pesach because of the kosher for Passover items availability. If packages are not opened like sugar, matzah meal, soda, butter, and other daily items they are allowed. Nothing with Leaven (beer, liquor and wines, pasta, bread and items that have been allowed to rise with yeast or ferments) are allowed on Passover. Pots, pans, silverware that are used year round are not permitted. Glassware can be cleaned and used. Most Jewish people have special items for Passover and they are stored in a special place. That doesn’t mean you throw the items out. One finds a place to store them until after Passover. The observant Jews sign a contract with their rabbi that they will adhere to the kashrut for Passover. The money collected usually is given by the rabbi for a non-Jew to hold these non kosher for Passover items, and the rest is used to help those that can not afford items for Kosher l’Pesach. The Ultimate Spring Cleaning for your home!
As Passover approaches more information will be added to each Torah Drash.
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder