Shmini (Leviticus 9-11 )
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GOOD MORNING! A couple weeks before Pesach I began to present the Prophecy category of evidence that demonstrates that there is a God and that He gave the Torah. I presented four prophecies:
- that the Jewish people will be eternal, though
- we will be few in number, and
- scattered to the four corners of the earth, and that
- the host nations were ultimately inhospitable to us.
This week, 2 more prophecies!
One would think, if the Jewish people were so reviled that we would be persecuted and killed, we would have little impact upon those nations persecuting and killing us. Yet, the Torah prophesies that we will be:
5. A LIGHT UNTO THE NATIONS
"I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. You shall become a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. Through you all the communities of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:2-3)
The prophet Isaiah (42:6) states:
"I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand and keep you. And I will establish you as a covenant of the people, for a light unto the nations."
Despite our small numbers, the Jewish People seem to occupy a disproportionate place as a focus of world attention. As Mark Twain wrote of the Jew:
"He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning, are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers."
Despite being the most hated people, few in number and dispersed across the globe, Jews are the most influential people the world has known. Jews are responsible for the idea of ethical monotheism and the absolute moral standard that comes from a belief in one God.
Before the Jews, the ancient world thought that infanticide was morally correct (even Aristotle wrote in favor of it.) Before the Jews came along, the world thought that "might was right."
It was the Jewish people that gave the world the ideas of respect for life, peace, equality, justice, love of neighbor, social responsibility, and holiness of human purpose.
Today, on the wall outside the United Nations, the hope of the world is
emblazoned, using the words of the Jewish prophet Isaiah:
"And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nations shall not lift up sword against nations. Neither shall they learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
6. INTERDEPENDENCE OF THE NATION AND THE LAND
It has been prophesied in the Torah that the land of Israel was rich and
fertile while the Jews were living there:
"I have come down to rescue them from Egypt's power. I will bring them out of that land, to a good, spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey..." (Exodus 3:8)
And when they were exiled, it would become barren and desolate:
"So devastated will I leave the land that your enemies who live there will be astonished... Your land will remain desolate, and your cities in ruins." (Leviticus 26:32-33)
During the two thousand years of Israel's exile from its Land, numerous empires have conquered the Land and countless wars were fought for its possession. And yet, astonishingly, no conqueror ever succeeded in permanently settling the Land or causing the deserts to blossom.
Mark Twain, who visited Israel in 1867, describes the Land of Israel:
"We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given wholly to weeds - A silent, mournful expanse... A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. The further we went the hotter the sun got and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became." ("The Innocents Abroad" Vol. II)
The "land of milk and honey" turning into a desert, is a phenomenon unique in the annals of history. Now that the Jews are returning to the Land, it once again has begun to bloom!
For more on "The Seven Wonders of Jewish History" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
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.
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?
In Torat Kohanim, (in the Torah portion of Acharai Mot) it 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:
- 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.
- 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.
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 21:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:51 Hong Kong 6:27 Honolulu 6:32
J'Burg 5:28 London 7:48 Los Angeles 7:11
Melbourne 5:28 Mexico City 6:37 Miami 7:29
New York 7:23 Singapore 6:50 Toronto 7:49
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
In life, your chances of
being run over are doubled
if you stay in the middle of the road.
In Loving Memory of