Weekly Torah Portion: Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47)


God commands Aaron and his sons to make the burnt and sin offerings at the Tabernacle. When God accepts the offerings, the people shout with joy. God describes to Moses the laws of kashrut, making distinctions between land animals, birds, and animals in the water. Read an extensive summery on My Jewish Learning

Related D’var Torah

“…the question isn’t “do you believe in God” as if God was a static concept– but rather “God” is a descriptive term– for that entity or being or force that will give you strength and comfort at your lowest moments, magnify your highest moments, and encourage you to be your best.” – Rabbi Heather Miller in 2015. Read the full drash

“When we join a community we become connected through common values and experiences” – Jeff Bernhardt in 2005. Read the full drash

“Keep reading, keep listening, keep wailing, don’t turn away, act in whatever way you can to try to help…” – Rabbi Lisa Edwards in 1999. Read the full drash

Torah Verse of the Week*

“For you must distinguish between the sacred and the secular, and between the impure and the pure” (Parashat Shemini; Leviticus 10:10)
(source of the havdalah blessing)

A hoopoe. Who knew?!

Other Suggested Readings

What are the things that silence us in our lives? When are we too embarrassed to show our emotions? When do we feel too ashamed to speak? When do we quiet our own voices because we have devalued the worth of what we have to say? And, when do we silence others by redirecting the conversation? By attacking their ideas? Experiencing Torah by Leah Zimmerman

MyJewishLearning.com commentator Beth Freishtat explores these themes in her short article ‘Death, Grief, And Consolation: Reacting to Moses and Aaron’s responses to the deaths of Nadav and Avihu provides us with an opportunity to examine our own responses to tragedy’ – read more on the Telephone Torah Study archives

In her URJ commentary on Pinchas entitled ‘Evolving Justice,’ Rabbi Lisa Edwards discusses the shifting understanding of justice among God and the Israelites. Read more

“A punishment from God, or a random accident?” – Blu Greenberg is the founding president of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, tries to understand how a joyful scene turns into heartbreak as party of our suggested reading for this portion in 2013


*Torah Verse of the Week is chosen by the Torah class during Tuesdays’ studies with Rabbi Lisa Edwards. Check out when our next Torah Study takes place

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