FOLLOWING the longest possible break for yomtov, we return to “business as usual”.
The sedra, Shemini, picks up the story of the dedication of the Sanctuary and the priests, which commenced at the end of the previous sedra, read a fortnight ago.
The seven days of the initiation of the priests is over and on the eighth day (Shemini), which corresponded with the first of Nissan, the consecration of the actual Sanctuary began. For 12 days, sacrifices were to be brought by Aaron and his sons, on behalf of the 12 tribes.
However, on the very first day tragedy struck. Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s sons performed an unauthorised service in the Sanctuary and were immediately “struck down dead”!
Aaron, however, did not question the will of the Almighty and accepted what had happened with great faith.
The second part of the sedra deals with the concept of “clean” and “unclean” animals, i.e. what we colloquially term kosher and non-kosher animals.
Any animal that has cloven (split) hooves and chews the cud is kosher. Fish that have fins and scales may be eaten. Only certain birds may be eaten, but birds of prey are invariably not kosher.
The sedra ends with certain laws appertaining to ritual uncleanliness such as that which emanates from a carcass of an animal not slaughtered by shechita.
This week is Shabbat Mevorchim. Rosh Chodesh Iyar is on Sunday and Monday. We read the haftorah “Machar Chodesh”.
Wednesday is Yom Hazikaron, when we honour the victims of war and acts of terror.
The following day is Yom Ha’atzmaut, when we celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday.