Parashah Shemini 2022 (Eighth) Leviticus 9 – 11

In these chapters we read about how on the 8th day, Moses called Aaron and his sons to make sacrifice for themselves, then (having been cleansed by means of their sacrifice) to make sacrifice for the people. Moses explains that when doing things in this manner the Lord will then appear to them.

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Aaron did as Moses commanded, which was in accordance with the instructions God gave to Moses, and after the sacrifices had been performed and the meat and fat laid upon the altar, God sent fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice in the presence of all the people. When the people saw this, they shouted and fell on their faces.

Now we come to a sad event, caused by what the rabbis assume was jealousy fueled by drink: Aaron’s two eldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, put fire and incense in their censors (fire which was not from the altar) and made offering to the Lord. This was not only wrong, but sinful because they were not doing the right thing the right way, and so God punished them by sending his fire to destroy them. As sad as this was, Moses told Aaron that God said through those who are nigh unto him he will be sanctified, and in front of the people he will be glorified, meaning that those who serve God must maintain a higher level of obedience, and through their proper service they will glorify God before all the people.

As such, when Nadab and Abihu offered strange (unjustified and improper) fire before God, they neither sanctified nor glorified God, as their (assumed) purpose was to glorify themselves in showing that they also could do what their father was doing.

The last chapter in this parashah is the law of Kashrut, the kosher laws. In this chapter God tells us, very simply, what we may eat and what we may not eat. Consequently, you could say this chapter identifies what is “food” and what isn’t.

My message for this parashah is pretty much the same one I always give when we are covering the Kosher laws, or for that matter, any commandment, ordinance, regulation, or law that God gives that doesn’t have a simple, easy-to-understand explanation.

And that message is this:

If you don’t understand why God commands you to do something, you aren’t supposed to.

God doesn’t have to explain himself to you, or to me, or to anyone. The hard truth of the matter is that it comes down to that little, five-letter word that Jews and Christians throw around so much, without really understanding what it means: F-A-I-T-H.

It is really so simple. There is no need to complicate things, although complicating things is what humans love to do. We can’t just obey, we have to know why we should obey.

OK, here’s the best reason you can have to obey: God promises you will be blessed when you obey him. You can find a very detailed listing of all the blessings you receive when you obey God in Deuteronomy 28.

True faith is not just accepting, or even believing, but acting upon that acceptance and belief throughout your life. Just as Yaakov says in his letter to the Believers, faith without works is dead (James 2:14). That means no matter how faithful you think you are, if you aren’t doing things in your everyday life that demonstrate that faith, you are lying.

And the way to demonstrate faith is to do as God said you should do, faithfully believing that whatever God says to do is because he only wants the best for you.

This is the ultimate proof of one’s faith- obeying without question.

I don’t need to know why I can have a lamb sandwich anytime I want to, but if I want pork rinds while watching TV that is forbidden.

I don’t need to understand why God says some animals are clean and all others are unclean.

I don’t need to understand why some fish are good to eat and others aren’t.

What I DO need to know is what God tells me to do. I don’t need to know why.

So, either you trust God to have your best interests at heart, or you don’t.

Either you believe that God knows what he is doing, or you don’t.

Either you want to earn blessings, or you don’t.

Either you follow God’s rules or you follow human rules.

The bottom line is this: you aren’t supposed to understand why God tells you what to do, but you are supposed to obey him.

Thank you for being here, and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and my YouTube channel, buy my books and share them with others, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (please make sure you read and agree to the rules).

And remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!