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This week's 10-Minute Torah (April 10, 2021): "Parashat Shemini" 5781

Parashat Shmini / פרשת שְּׁמִינִי

Read on 10 April 2021 (28 Nisan 5781).

Parashat Shmini is the 26th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.

Torah Portion: Leviticus 9:1-11:47

In the eighth day after the consecration of the priests, Aaron is told to take a bull-calf (2 yr old) for a sin-offering as a sin-offering for the priests. He is also to take a he-goat for a sin-offering for the people and a goat and lamb for a burnt-offering.

Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s oldest sons and next in line for the spiritual leadership, took their incense pans and offered the wrong mixture (not sanctioned) to Hashem. They died by the hand of Hashem for their insolence. Moses told Aaron not to mourn. The rabbis suggest that they were drunk since after this incident priests were warned not to officiate in the Mishkan under the influence of alcohol.

The portion then discusses the laws of Koshrut and which animals the Children of Israel are allowed to consume. Kosher animals are those with wholly cloven huffs and chew their cud. Fish which have both fins and scales are kosher. A list of edible birds are given but the general interpretation is that birds of prey are not kosher.

Only insects that have wings, go upon all fours and have jointed legs above their feet are kosher. Since their specific identification has been lost throughout the ages, all insects are generally forbidden. Also completely forbidden as food are amphibians like frogs and snakes.

While these are general guidelines, there is a list as well. Some of the animals mentioned are guesses since their interpretation has been lost in antiquity.

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