Parashah Shemini (Eighth Day) Leviticus 9 – 11

We pick up from the last parashah with the Priests completing the 7 days of consecration, and today they finalize the ceremony with a sin offering, a burnt offering and a peace offering. That is the proper order: first, be cleansed of sin so you can approach God; next, show total obedience and worship of God; lastly, enter into His presence in peace and thanksgiving.

Then Aaron’s two oldest sons, Abihu and Nadab, thought they could just go ahead and offer their own fire before the Lord, ignoring the rules and (according to some Rabbinic thought) coming to the Sanctuary drunk (DUI– davening under the influence.) This sin was immediately addressed by God, who sent fire to destroy them. 

The next chapter, Chapter 11, is the chapter that outlines the laws of Kashrut: the Kosher regulations. 

I do not eat pork or shellfish, or any of the other animals mentioned as unclean, yet I will have meat and dairy together (I LOVE cheeseburgers.) I don’t keep Kosher according to the rules the Rabbi’s have stipulated in the Talmud, but I do keep kosher according to the Bible’s rules.  God tells us what He wants us to do, and we should do that. As Moses says, it isn’t too hard to do, it isn’t so far we can’t reach it, but religious leaders have historically placed a heavier yoke on us.

The Rabbi’s mean well. Their basic motivation is that we don’t want to trespass (violate) God’s word, so since we are weak and foolish, let’s put a “fence” around the law so we can’t cross over it, even by accident. Of course, being Jewish, we need to point out that maybe I can fall over the fence, so let’s put another fence around the first fence, because I can’t accidentally trespass both fences. Oh, wait- maybe my car brakes fail, and I run through the second fence, then when I get out to see the damage to my fender, in shock I fall back and stumble over the first fence…it could happen. Oy- OK, so let’s put a third fence around the second fence, which protects the first fence which is there to keep us from trespassing God’s law.

Maybe I was driving a truck? If I was driving a truck, it might be going so fast, and it’s so big, that it goes through two fences, and then….get the idea? It never stops, so today we have Kashrut laws that say we need three sets of dishes, cups and silverware, a Rabbi to observe the slaughter and preparation of commercially prepared Kosher foods, and so many other rules of Halacha (the Way to Walk) in the Talmud that the yoke is overwhelming.  

I could write an entire book on the way Kashrut is misunderstood by both Jews and Gentiles, whether “Believers” or not. The B’rit Chadasha (New Covenant) writings in Acts and the Gospel of Mark have references that have historically been used as a polemic against Kosher laws, but when taken in context (both grammatically and historically) they have nothing to do, whatsoever, with kashrut ( for a detailed explanation please buy my book, Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion because there is an entire chapter devoted to this misunderstanding.)

Let me make a simple statement regarding the regulations of Kashrut stipulated in this parashah: they are still as valid today for everyone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as they were the day God first gave them to Moses. Like it or not, that is the truth. In the Torah, every law, regulation, commandment, and even the suggestions (just kidding- God never suggests, He commands) are valid for everyone in the world.

The Torah is not just for Jews: it was just given to the Jews, in order that they may live it as an example to everyone else how God wants everyone else to live.   

If we obey the Lord, we get blessed (Deuteronomy 28);  Yeshua (Jesus) did not change the law, and certainly did not give anyone permission to ignore the commandments in the Torah. If you worship God, then you are subject to Torah. If you are one of the millions upon millions over the millennia who have been taught to worship Jesus- not the real Jesus but the one Constantine created- then you are told Torah is for Jews and you are OK ’cause Jesus has got your back. Sorry to burst your bubble, but (as the song goes), it ain’t necessarily so. 

There are so many things that humans have done to make worshiping God so much more difficult than what God told us to do. Even if we give the benefit of the doubt, and assume that these regulations and rites and rituals are all designed to honor God, still and all, they just get in the way of pure worship. I find it so disheartening that the Elders in Jerusalem correctly realized that putting too much on the new converts to Judaism (colloquially called the “early church”) was not right, yet three centuries or so later, the Council of Nicene destroyed any semblance of proper worship by totally separating the (now called) Christians from their Jewish roots, and since then have created so many rituals, regulations and requirements that Christianity today isn’t even what they started with back then. What a shame. 

So, nu? What’s my point? My point is the same one I make over and over, and over- before you accept what anyone says about anything dealing with God, check it out yourself by reading the Bible and asking God to direct your understanding. Everything you do, or don’t do, is a decision that you will be held accountable for; so, whichever way you worship God, please make sure it is your choice based on your own understanding and not just what someone else told you you should do.  

Comments welcomed (just be nice)