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This week's 10-Minute Torah (March 26, 2022): "Parashat Shemini" 5782



Parashat Shmini 5782 / פָּרָשַׁת שְּׁמִינִי

26 March 2022 / 23 Adar II 5782

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

Torah Portion:

Shemini (“Eighth”) opens with the consecration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Two of Aaron’s sons are consumed by a fire sent from God when they attempt to offer a “strange fire.” God describes the animals, birds, and fish that are permissible and prohibited for consumption, as well as some laws of ritual purity.

Triennial year 3

1: 11:1-8 · 8 p’sukim ·

2: 11:9-12 · 4 p’sukim ·

3: 11:13-19 · 7 p’sukim ·

4: 11:20-28 · 9 p’sukim ·

5: 11:29-32 · 4 p’sukim ·

6: 11:33-38 · 6 p’sukim ·

7: 11:39-47 · 9 p’sukim ·

maf*: Numbers 19:1-22 · 22 p’sukim · *Shabbat Parah

Haftarah for Ashkenazim*: Ezekiel 36:16-38 · 23 p’sukim *Shabbat Parah


Commentary and Divrei Torah:


As we have been earlier introduced to the primary law of Kashrut, to not “cook a kid in their mother’s milk”, we are now introduced to the full cavalcade of allowed and forbidden foods of living species. The portion for our third Triennial reading gives the extensive list, enumerated based on groups of species (i.e., animal, fowl, insect, amphibian).


The laws of Kashrut are considered a hukat, that is, a decree. These are laws for which no reason is specifically given or that is obtuse. Sages, nevertheless, have offered some guidance as to why certain species are allowed as food while others are not. Some have considered that the main determining factor is whether the species is one of prey or of being preyed on.


We have all heard the term, “you are what you eat”. Food is incorporated into the body and becomes, in a very literal sense, of part of what we are. By eating docile creatures, then, we are not ingesting “aggression”, but rather peace. It has also been suggested that the animal is performing a mitzvah and a type of evolution by becoming part of the most evolved form of life on this parent. Also inherent in these laws is the idea that ritual slaughter, sh’hittah, should be performed in the most humane method for the animal.


Finally, this is an interesting concept in Judaism. While Kashrut is enumerated only twice in Torah, along with Shabbat it is one of the most widely known commandments. Consider this in concert with the negative commandment of gossip, one of the most cited commandments in Torah in one form or another. This makes the mouth a very critical organ. We need to be careful about what goes in as much as what comes out.



Shabbat Parah 2022 / שַׁבָּת פּרה 5782

Shabbat of the Red Heifer 🕍

Shabbat Parah for Hebrew Year 5782 begins at sundown on Friday, 25 March 2022 and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 26 March 2022. This corresponds to Parashat Shmini.

Shabbat Parah ("Sabbath [of the] red heifer" שבת פרה) takes place on the Shabbat before Shabbat HaChodesh, in preparation for Passover. Numbers 19:1-22 describes the parah adumah ("red heifer") in the Jewish temple as part of the manner in which the kohanim and the Jewish people purified themselves so that they would be ready ("pure") to sacrifice the korban Pesach.

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