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Parashat Shemini

Kohanim Begin Their Ministry

Now it happened on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron, his sons, and the elders of Israel. Then he said to Aaron, “Take a calf from the herd for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, both without blemish, and offer them before Adonai. You are to speak to Bnei-Yisrael, saying: Take a male goat for a sin offering, along with a calf and a lamb, both yearlings without blemish, for a burnt offering, plus a bull and a ram for fellowship offerings, to sacrifice before Adonai, along with a grain offering mixed with oil. For today Adonai appears to you.”

So they brought what Moses commanded before the Tent of Meeting, and the entire congregation drew near and stood before Adonai. Moses said, “This is what Adonai commanded that you shall do, so that the glory of Adonai may appear to you.” Moses said to Aaron, “Draw near to the altar, and bring your sin offering, and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people.[a] Then present the offering for the people, and make atonement for them, as Adonai commanded.”

So Aaron drew near to the altar, and slaughtered the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself. The sons of Aaron presented the blood to him. Then he dipped his finger in the blood, dabbed it onto the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar. 10 But the fat, the kidneys and the cover from the liver of the sin offering he burned up as smoke on the altar, as Adonai had commanded Moses. 11 The flesh and the hide he burned in a fire outside the camp. 12 Aaron slaughtered the burnt offering, then his sons presented the blood to him and he splashed it around on the altar. 13 They handed the burnt offering to him piece by piece, along with the head, and he burned them up as smoke on the altar. 14 He washed the innards and the legs and he offered them in smoke upon the burnt offering on the altar. 15 Then he presented the people’s gift, took the goat of the sin offering which was for the people, slaughtered it, and offered it for sin, just like the first one. 16 He presented the burnt offering and offered it according to the decree.

17 Then Aaron presented the grain offering, filling his hand with some of it and burning it up as smoke on the altar, alongside the burnt offering of the morning. 18 He also slaughtered the bull and the ram as the sacrifice of fellowship offerings for the people. Then his sons brought him the blood, which he splashed around on the altar, 19 as well as the fat from the bull and the ram, the fat tail, and the layer over the innards along with the kidneys and the covering of the liver. 20 They put the fat upon the breasts, and he burned it on the altar. 21 But the breasts and the right thigh Aaron waved for a wave offering before Adonai, as Moses had commanded. 22 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them.[b] Then he stepped down from presenting the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.

23 Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came back out and blessed the people, the glory of Adonai appeared to all the people. 24 Fire came out from the presence of Adonai, and devoured the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

Holy Fire Consumes Unauthorized Fire

10 Now Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own censer, put fire in it, laid incense over it, and offered unauthorized fire before Adonai—which He had not commanded them. So fire came out from the presence of Adonai and consumed them. So they died before Adonai. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what Adonai spoke of, saying:

To those who are near Me

I will show myself holy.

Upon the faces of all the people

I will be glorified.”

Then Aaron kept silent.

Then Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come near, carry your relatives away from the front of the Sanctuary to outside of the camp.” So they drew near and carried them, still in their tunics, outside of the camp, as Moses had said.

Then Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons: “Do not uncover your heads or tear your clothes, so you may not die and He will not be angry with the entire congregation. But let your kinsmen—the whole house of Israel—mourn over the burning that Adonai has kindled. You must not go out from the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, or you will die, for the anointing oil of Adonai is on you.” So they acted according to the word of Moses.

Adonai spoke to Aaron saying: “Do not drink wine or fermented drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, so that you do not die. This is to be a statute forever throughout your generations. 10 You are to make a distinction between the holy and the common and between the unclean and the clean. 11 And you are to teach Bnei-Yisrael all the statutes which Adonai has spoken to them through Moses.”

12 Moses spoke to Aaron and to Eleazar and Itamar his surviving sons: “Take the grain offering left over from Adonai’s offerings by fire, and eat it without hametz beside the altar, for it is most holy. 13 You are to eat it in a holy place, because it is your portion and your sons’ portion of the offerings of Adonai made by fire. For so I have been commanded. 14 You are to eat the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented in a clean place—you, your sons and your daughters with you—for they are given as your portion, and your children’s portion, out of the sacrifices of the fellowship offerings of Bnei-Yisrael. 15 They are to bring the thigh that is presented and the breast that is waved with fat portions scorched by fire, to wave it as a wave offering before Adonai. So it will be yours and your sons’ with you, a share forever, as Adonai has commanded.”

16 Then Moses searched carefully for the goat of the sin offering and noticed it had been burned up. So he snapped at Eleazar and Itamar, the surviving sons of Aaron, saying: 17 “Why have you not eaten the sin offering in the place of the Sanctuary, since it is most holy, and He gave it to you in order to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before Adonai? 18 Look, its blood was not brought into the inner part of the sanctuary. You certainly should have eaten it in the Sanctuary, as I commanded.”

19 But Aaron said to Moses, “Behold, today they presented their sin offering and their burnt offering before Adonai. When things like these have happened to me, would it have been good in the eyes of Adonai if I had eaten the sin offering today?” 20 When Moses heard this, it was good in his eyes.

Kashrut for Holiness

11 Adonai spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to Bnei-Yisrael, saying: These are the living things which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth. Whatever has a split, divided hoof and chews cud among the animals—that you may eat.

“Nevertheless, you should not eat of those that only chew cud, or have a split hoof. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof, is unclean to you. The coney, though it chews the cud yet does not have a divided hoof, so it is unclean to you. The hare, though it chews the cud, does not split the hoof, so it is unclean to you. The pig, though it has a split, divided hoof, does not chew cud, so it is unclean to you. You are not to eat meat from them, nor are you to touch their carcasses. They are unclean to you.

“From all that are in the waters, you may eat whatever has fins and scales, within the waters, in the seas and in the rivers. Those you may eat. 10 But any that do not have fins and scales in the seas or the rivers, among those that swarm on the waters, or among any of the living creatures that are in the waters, they are loathsome to you. 11 They are to be detestable to you. You shall not eat meat from them and you should detest their carcasses. 12 Whatever has neither fins nor scales in the waters, that is a detestable thing to you.

13 “Among the birds you should detest the following—they are not to be eaten—they are loathsome: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite, 15 any kind of raven, 16 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, 19 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe, and the bat.

20 “All flying insects that walk on all fours are detestable to you. 21 Yet you may eat from all winged creeping things that go on all fours, which have legs above their feet, with which to hop on the earth. 22 You may eat from any kind of locust, any kind of katydid, any kind of cricket and any kind of grasshopper. 23 But all winged creeping things that have four feet are loathsome to you.

24 “Moreover, by these also you will become unclean: whoever touches their carcasses shall be unclean until the evening. 25 Whoever carries any part of their carcass is to wash his clothes, and will be unclean until the evening. 26 “Every animal with a separating hoof but not split, or does not chew cud, is unclean to you. Everyone who touches them will become unclean. 27 So whatever moves on its paws, among all animals that go on all fours, is unclean to you. Whoever touches their carcasses will be unclean until the evening. 28 Whoever carries their carcasses, is to wash his clothes and will be unclean until the evening. They are unclean to you.

29 “Among the creeping things that creep on the earth, the following are unclean to you: the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard, 30 the gecko, the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink and the chameleon. 31 Among all that creep these are the ones that are unclean to you. Whoever touches them when they are dead, will be unclean until the evening. 32 Whatever falls on them when they are dead will become unclean, whether it is any vessel of wood, or clothing, or skin, or sackcloth. Whatever vessel it is, with which any work is done, it must be put into water, and it will be unclean until the evening, then it will be clean.

33 “Now if any of them falls into a clay pot, everything that is in it will become unclean, and you are to break it. 34 Any food that may be eaten but has water on it from such a pot will become unclean. Also any drink that may be drunk in any such pot will become unclean. 35 Everything on which part of their carcass falls will become unclean. An oven or stove for pots is to be broken in pieces. They are unclean and will be unclean to you. 36 Nevertheless, a spring or a cistern for collecting water will be clean, though anyone who touches their carcass will become unclean. 37 If part of a carcass falls on any seed for sowing that has yet to be sown, it is clean. 38 But if water is put on the seed, and part of a carcass falls on it, it is unclean to you. 39 “If any animal that you may eat dies, the one who touches its carcass will become unclean until the evening. 40 He who eats of its carcass is to wash his clothes, and be unclean until the evening. Also, the one who carries its carcass is to wash his clothes, and be unclean until the evening.

41 “Every creeping thing that crawls on the earth is detestable—it should not be eaten. 42 Whatever moves on its belly or crawls on all fours or has many feet among all the creeping things that crawl on the earth, these you are not to eat, for they are detestable. 43 You are not to contaminate yourselves with any creeping thing that crawls nor make yourselves unclean with them or defiled by them.

44 “For I am Adonai your God. Therefore, sanctify yourselves, and be holy, for I am holy. You are not to defile yourselves with any kind of creeping thing that moves on the earth. 45 For I am Adonai who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God.[c] Therefore, you shall be holy, for I am holy.

46 “This is the Torah of the animal, the bird, every living creature that moves in the waters, and every creature that creeps on the earth, 47 to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the living thing that may be eaten and the living thing that may not be eaten.”