Meta Parshiyot R David Wolfe-Blank, Living Torah R Aryeh Kaplan, commentary from Rashi, Ohr HaHaiim, S’forno, Baal Turim
HIGHLIGHTS OF SH’MINI – Eighth (day)
Sh’mini, translates as “eighth” and points to the eighth day of ritual initiating the Mishkon and installing the priests that began in last week, in T’zav. This is the eighth day and final day of the initiation. The animals are slaughtered and sacrifices are ready to go upon the alter. Next, Aharon blesses the community.
And nothing happened.
Next, Aharon and Moshe enter the Ohel Moed (Tent of Testimony). They emerge and together, they bless the people.
This time, Havyah‘s fire lept forward consuming the burnt offering and the choice parts on the alter. It is beyond amazing. K’vod Havayah (God’s Potent Glory) is revealed to the entire community.
What could that be like? I don’t know, yet it is fun and expansive to imagine Presence experienced, and the ease that accompanies it. The people’s faces were glowing with health, balance, and new awareness. This was what they were waiting for. The people praised Havayah and fell upon their faces.
The Hebrew people were accompanied by Sh’khinah on their journey through the wilderness.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
What happened in the Tent when Moshe and Aharon entered?
Can you imagine what it was like, to be in Sh’khinah‘s Presence in the newly initiated Mishkon? What was it like for the people? What was it like for Moshe and Aharon?
Why did the people fall on their faces? When do Jews fall on their faces today?
Consider your peak spiritual moments have you experienced? What were you doing when they happened?
When in the Jewish calendar are eight day celebration? How are they similar or different to the initiation of the Mishkon?
It is a very big moment. Next, Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu become intoxicated with the excitement if ignition. They rush into the holy space seeming to forget protocol, ritual, or sequencing. They each take their fire pan, put fire in it, and then incense on top it to burn. This was not a prescribed ritual, yet, they offer this up. Next, fire came out from within Havayah and consumed both Nadav and Avihu on the spot, as it had consumed the earlier sacrifice.
After all that happened,
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֗ן הוּא֩ אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֨ר יְהֹוָ֤ה ׀ לֵאמֹר֙ בִּקְרֹבַ֣י אֶקָּדֵ֔שׁ וְעַל־פְּנֵ֥י כׇל־הָעָ֖ם אֶכָּבֵ֑ד וַיִּדֹּ֖ם אַהֲרֹֽן׃
[And] Moshe told Aharon what Havayah had said to him,
“Through My intimate ones I bring holiness, and all the faces of all the nation will be glorified. Aharon stayed silent.Leviticus 10:3
This story and Torah verse brings up a lot questions. Commentators have interpreted this challenging event for millennia. Here are some thoughts on this incident:
Havayah deals more seriously (with more judgement) with those who are closer, that is, engaged in holy work.
Moshe knew someone was going to die. Consequently, after Nadav and AVihu died Moshe told Aharon that he thought either he (Moshe) or Aharon were going to be taken. Moshe says that now he sees that Nadav and Avihu were at a higher level than Moshe and Aharon, and so were taken.
The Matok Medvash draws from Holy Zohar (Shm’ini 38:2) to show that Nadav and Avihu were punished for tearing apart The Divine Lovers – Ze’er Anpin and Nukvah (the equivalent of Kodesh Barukh Hu ooSh’khintay, The Holy One of Blessing and Sh’khinah). The Holy One of Blessing represents the upper nine S’firot in the Tree of Life (in expanded consciousness and in small consciousness the six Hesed, G’vurah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod.) This corresponds to the Kavvanah many are familiar with “L’shem Yikhud Kudshah Brikh h u ooSh’khintay, For Name of unifying The Holy One of Blessing with Sh’khinah” .
We know it took time and intention to prepare and initiate and receive Presence fully. The eight-day ritual, was designed for this with great love, yearning and attention to detail. These eight days were the “fore-pray” preceding Divine Union. Finally, The Holy One of Blessing and Sh’khinah are led to each other and once again are united. There is a big release as The Divine Lovers fall and remain in each other’s arms. This union causes blessings to abound. It is the highest high vibration. Then unexpectedly in walk Nadav and Avihu. They burn incense and divert the attention of the Divine Couple in Union, causing the blessing to pause.
- Nadav and Avihu were were the lucky ones who got to ascend. It was not a punishment at all, rather an elevation like the “Divine Kiss” given to Hanokh and others.
- Nadav and Avihu got very close to the Divine in offering Strange Fire, they seemed to offer themselves as an elevation. Was this intentional?
- Perhaps death of Nadav and Avihu was needed in order to create a sustaining connection and bring Sh’khinah’s presence among the people.
- Consider that the Mishkon marked a transition away from human sacrifice towards animal sacrifice. Does that impact this event ? How ?
- The event concerning Nadav, Avihu, and the strange fire was part blessing and part not blessing, like most matters in life.
- A combination of these.
- What Else?
The Torah about Nadav and Avihu reminds me of a Sufi story about a great king. His beloved son and only heir was very sick and it looked like he would die. The King went to a holy person and asked for her help. The holy person agreed to help and in a short time the great king’s son got all better.
There was a price for this. A life for a life. Sadly, the holy person had made a difficult decision. She knew the only way to save the kings son was if she agreed to give up the life of her only son in exchange. A short later her son fell ill and died.
Balance exists in the universe. For every pull there is a corresponding push.
The sin of Golden Calf was a huge one. It left a huge imbalance, a dissonant field of energy causing separation from the Holy One. Havayah was ready to destroy all the people as a result. This “debt” needed to be balance. Were the death of Nadav an Avihu payment to balance this Divine Ledger ?
SITTING WITH THE QUESTION
This event with Nadav and Avihu is shrouded in mystery. The truth is not clear. It may be only when Moshiah consciousness comes, our eyes will open to it. May it be here soon. Right now is fine.
SH’MINI IS NETZAH IN NETZAH
Tiferet has completed in our annual cycle and we are presently moving through realm Neztah. Basic operating principles are well established. Netzah (as victory or endurance, or perseverance) carries out actions that have been previously set into place. Netzah serves to manifest commands of earlier S’firot. This means that Netzah is more skilled at marketing than development.
This Torah portion also contains the center letter of the Torah. Counting all the letters in Torah is a Netzahy thing to do.
The name of this Parashah is Sh’mini, eighth. It suggest going beyond the common system of seven and entering a new sphere. Sh’mini shares a root with the word Shemen, which means fat, like “fat of the land”. These resonates similarly to the way Netzah of Netzah suggests reaching the ultimate top of a mountain. Then, Netzah continues, as is its nature, and begins the descent back.