Shmini 5774

March 12, 2014

7 min read


Shmini (Leviticus 9-11 )

GOOD MORNING!   Pesach is coming! Monday night, April 14th is the first Seder. What kind of Seder will you have for your family and friends? Will it be "Let's hurry up and get to the food" -- or something more meaningful, uplifting, impactful? There are 3 types of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen ... and those who ask, "What happened?" The kind of Seder you have is up to you and depends on what you do starting NOW! Make it more than -- "They wanted to kill us. We won. Let's eat."

The Seder should help your children to feel positively about being Jewish. You cannot transfer feelings, but you can create the atmosphere and the experience which will engender positive feelings. Many people who love being Jewish, fondly reminisced about their Zaideh (grandfather) presiding over the Shabbat table and the Seder or their Bubbie (grandmother) lighting Shabbat candles ... and their Seder! You are a link in that chain!


Remember that the Seder is for the kids, to transmit our history and understanding of life. You've got to make it interesting and intrigue them to ask questions. If a person asks a question, he'll be inclined to hear the answer! The only way to transmit your love and feeling for Judaism is through shared, positive experiences. You need to be excited about the Seder! Some ideas from Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf:

1. Invest time before the Seder. Trade in your Maxwell House Hagaddah for one with commentary. Then read it! Visit a Jewish book store and see what intrigues you. Look at a commentary to get interesting insights to share with your family and guests. A few suggestions: Judaism in a Nutshell: Passover, Artscroll Haggadahs and Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov. Available at local Jewish bookstores or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242 ... or via Also, excellent materials including an audio guide "How to Conduct the Passover Seder" are available at !

2. Get Passover story books for the kids now! Read to them the stories before Pesach. Have them or help them make a little play to present at the Seder. Buy them Artscroll Children's Hagaddah!

3. Have quizzes and prizes. Ask questions and give 20 points for a right answer. 100 points and they get a prize! Start with the youngest and work up through the ages. If a child answers a question that's not his, he loses 20 points! Name: the plagues, the 4 sons, the number of years in slavery -- make your list of questions before the Seder. (You can even prep the kids before the Seder with the answers!)

4. Plan out the Seder with little surprises and props. During the section on the plagues throw into the air plastic animals when you get to the Wild Beasts; use ping pong balls for the plague of Hail. Be creative. Give each child a brown paper bag filled with his props. Have fun! (you can also order the "Bag of Plagues" props available at your local Jewish bookstore -- or or -- or assemble your own!)

5. Delegate. Give your kids or guests a small part of the Haggadah to prepare. They can look at a Haggadah with commentary -- or go to and search. It involves them and makes them a part of the Seder rather than being an observer.

6. Have questions for discussion at the table! Passover marks the birth of the Jewish people. It's a time to reflect on the meaning, value and implications of being Jewish. Here are some questions to discuss:

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how important is being Jewish to you? Please explain.
  2. If your son, daughter, brother, sister, or best friend told you that they planned to raise their children without any Jewish education or identity, how would you react?
  3. If you thought the existence of Israel was in danger, would you risk your life to help save it?
  4. What do you like about being Jewish? What don't you like?
  5. Is it important to you or for your children to have mostly Jewish friends? Why?

7. Spend time at and ... and for more on Pesach! And be sure to see the Aish video "The Google Exodus" -- What would the Exodus have looked like if Moses had the internet?


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Torah Portion of the week

Shemini, Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47

Concluding the 7 days of inauguration for the Mishkan (Portable Sanctuary), Aaron, the High Priest, brings sacrifices for himself and the entire nation. Nadav and Avihu, sons of Aaron, bring an incense offering on their own initiative, and are consumed by a heavenly fire (perhaps the only time when someone did something wrong and was immediately hit by "lightning").

The Cohanim are commanded not to serve while intoxicated. The inaugural service is completed. God then specifies the species which are kosher to eat: mammals (those that have cloven hoofs and chew their cud), fish (those with fins and scales), birds (certain non-predators), and certain species of locusts. The portion concludes with the laws of spiritual defilement from contact with the carcasses of certain animals.

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Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And the sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, took each of them his fire pan, and put inside incense, and offered before the Almighty strange fire, which He had not commanded them" (Leviticus 10:1).

Nadav and Avihu ultimately paid with their lives for their well-intended, but non-commanded service of the Almighty. What lessons can we learn from their mistake?

Torat Kohanim (in the Torah portion of Acharai Mot) states that Nadav and Avihu erred by not consulting Moses for advice on whether it was proper for them to bring this incense. They also erred by not asking each other for advice.

There are two lessons here: 1) Before doing something that is questionable, make certain to consult someone who is older and wiser. Though you feel you are right, you might overlook or be unaware of some factors. 2) Even if you decide to do the same action as someone else, discuss it with him. Every person has his own "take" on a situation and his own motivations. Discussing with a peer can give valuable feedback. For another person you can be objective, though not for yourself.



Hundreds of families in Israel are unable to afford groceries for Yom Tov (the holiday).

This group gives them coupons redeemable only for food. They arrange with the supermarket to get an extra 10% on every dollar you give them.

I know they are legitimate and I give them money!

Send your tax-deductible contribution to: Keren Y&Y, 805-A Roosevelt Ct., Far Rockaway, NY 11691

Fulfill the special mitzvah of Maos Chitim, helping the poor for Pesach!


Candle Lighting Times

March 21
(or go to

Jerusalem 5:16
Guatemala 5:55 - Hong Kong 6:16 - Honolulu 6:24
J'Burg 6:00 - London 5:57 - Los Angeles 6:48
Melbourne 7:24 - Mexico City 6:29 - Miami 7:15
New York 6:51- Singapore 6:57 - Toronto 7:13

Quote of the Week

There is one quality
which one must possess to win,
and that is definiteness of purpose,
the knowledge of what one wants,
and a burning desire to possess it
--  Napoleon Hill


With Special Thanks to

Jonas & Judy


Happy Anniversary

Sam & Marsha


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