This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs every Monday at 7pm PST on my live cam and on YouTube.

Monday night I discuss the parasha at The House of Rabbs.

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This week’s we will study Parashat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47).

* Discuss my Purim. Got a hard time on my Los Angeles shul reviews. Hit the sack early Saturday night despite my honorable intention to hear the Megillah read. Listened to the Megillah Sunday morning while reading up on the book of Esther on Wikipedia and reading the New York Times Sunday magazine. Was I yotzi the mitzvah?

* What did God create on the Second Day? Separation. Separation is essential to the Torah. Separation between humans and God, man and woman, adults and children, Jews and Gentiles. God wants an ordered universe. Birds that don’t fly and fish that walk are not kosher.

* “Unblemished” is a big deal with sacrifices. No cripples serving as priest. Don’t give God your second best.

* Since the destruction of the temples, the aesthetic has lost out in Judaism. Musical instruments and art used to be important in the worship of God. You couldn’t have a crippled priest officiate in the sanctuary. Now the aesthetic in Jewish life is almost solely secular.

* If you don’t have beauty serving God, it will serve secularism. We are hard-wired to be attracted to beauty. If more beautiful unmarried women would go to shul, more men would go to shul. My primary determinant for where I pray is — are there hot single chicks around? This kept me going to yoga for years.

* What does it mean where it says God will show you His glory? (Lev. 9:6)

* I often encounter people who have no interest in God and religion. One think I notice is that they rarely if ever place themselves in a place to feel God and the profoundity of religion. If you hang out in churches or shuls or mosques, you’ll be more likely to feel the divine. If you hang out in bars, you’ll be less likely. If most of your friends are religious, you’ll likely be affected by that, and if most of your friends are secular, you’ll most likely be affected by that. I am often moved when I simply step inside a religious home and I am often moved in the opposite direction when I step inside a resolutely secular home.

* Aaron has an up and down day. He’s consecrated as high priest and two of his sons are killed by God for offering strange fire.

* When I was practicing yoga (almost daily), I often felt like I was playing with strange fire.

* What did Nadav and Avihu do wrong?

* God tells Aaron, the only time in Leviticus He speaks to him directly, do not go into the sanctuary drunk. That was probably what his sons did wrong.

* When Moses and Aaron bless the people, what does it mean and what use is it?

* Whether or not you like an airline depends largely upon your interactions with the people who work for the airline. So too most people’s opinions about God (or Jews) are most influenced by their interactions with people who claim to represent God. (Lev. 10:3) God is made holy by those who act in His name.

* Eating shellfish is detestable for a Jew, according to the Torah, but it is not the same Hebrew word for “abomination” that is given to the male homosexual act, and that “abomination” is for humanity, not just Jews.

* The sacrificial system forms the basis for Christianity yet this system is given solely to Jews. Why do Christians take this seriously but ignore the Jewish dietary laws, which are similarly given just to Jews to observe?

* “Don’t take things too seriously” is the opposite of the Torah view. Judaism takes everything seriously, from killing of animals to eating fruit to doing business to getting started in the morning to the way you tie your shoes.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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