Thursday, April 16, 2015


Erev Shabbos Kodesh – Parshas Shemini
Mevorchim Chodesh Iyar
28 Nissan 5775/ April 17, 2015
13th day of the Omer - Pirkei Avos – Chapter 1

Who knows 8?
I know 8! I definitely 8 too much over Yom Tov!
Ask any nutritionist and they will tell you that they are booked solid during these weeks after Pesach. It seems that the matzah which infuses us with spiritual faith simultaneously infuses us with physical calories. If only we could figure out how to hold onto the faith while relinquishing the calories!
But this year there is another 8. Being that Pesach began and ended on Shabbos, in the cycle of weekly torah readings we have been stalled at parshas Shemini for three weeks. (This is not true in Eretz Yisroel where Pesach ended on Friday. There parshas Shemini was read last shabbos.) Therefore during the Shabbos Mincha Torah reading as well as the Monday and Thursday Torah readings the week before Pesach and the week after Pesach we have been reading parshas Shemini. By the time we are ready to move on next week, we will have read the first section of parshas Shemini (which literally means "parshas eighth") eight times.
It's definitely a cute occurrence, but is there perhaps a practical lesson to be derived from our repeated readings of the first section of the parsha?
The beginning of parshas Shemini relates the events that occurred on the first day of Nissan 2449, the day when the service of the Mishkan officially began (the eighth day from when the service "unofficial" began). The gemara (Megillah 10b) relates that that day was as joyous before G-d as the day of creation of heaven and earth. The first section of the parsha details the special offerings and service performed on that incredible day. Yet a mere ten verses into the second aliyah the torah relates the shocking tragedy that transpired when Nadav and Avihu, the two righteous sons of Aharon and future leaders of the nation, died in the sanctuary. The nation which had been enjoying blissful celebration was immediately plunged into pained mourning.
As we read the opening verses of the parsha repeatedly we are aware of the tragedy that lurks just beyond. In the world of literature this is called dramatic irony. However, despite the fact that we know what is about to occur, as we read the previous verses, there is only mention of the joyous service being performed.
Perhaps that is the message we are to extrapolate: Live in the moment! Celebrate the moment and thank G-d for the blessings of the present.
No one knows what tomorrow will bring and we all live with fear of the unknown future. But faith entails that we trust in G-d and live each day with a sense of security.
The tragic death of the sons of Aharon will occur when the time comes. But until then there should be only celebration and elation.
In our world we too live with a sense of fear for we know not what tomorrow will bring. The lesson of Pesach and the matzah is that we can only feel secure when we have faith in the only real truth and power that exists.
Even as we look to drop the calories we need to hold on to the message and symbolism that the matzah infuses within us.
The matzah reminds us that one is Hashem - one and only!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum       

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