Parashat Shemini (Eighth) Leviticus 9:1-11:47
Maftir: Numbers 19:1-22
Haftarah: Ezekiel 36:16-38
Once again, this week there is a special Shabbat— Shabbat Parah (Cow). This is of course in regard to the Red Heifer, which was used for the purpose of purification. There is also a connection between this week’s Torah reading and the concept of purification or the forgiveness of sins. The name of the Parashah is Shemini or eighth. It refers to the day after the Kohanim (Priests) would finish their service in the Temple (or the Tabernacle). It was on the eighth day that they would exit. In regard to our Torah reading, it was only the High Priest, Aaron, who served, while Moses was instructing him. This first time was an example to the other priests who would serve in the future. Please note that some authorities teach that it was Moses who alone did the work while Aaron and his sons simply watched and then began serving from the eighth day.
It is significant that the eighth day is emphasized. This number relates to something “new”. It can also be connected to the concepts of “redemption” and the “Kingdom”. Therefore, it is not surprising that one reads,
“And Aaron lifted up his hands to the people and blessed them, and he went down and made the sin, burnt, and peace offerings. And he and Moses came to the Tent of Meeting and went out and then blessed the people and the glory of the L-rd appeared to all the people.” Leviticus 9:22-23
One learns from these two verses that the primary work of the Kohanim is to bless the people. The important factor is that the people cannot be blessed without the sacrifices being offered first, which atones for sin. What is the real blessing? One reads that “the glory of HaShem appeared to all the people“. In other words, although the atonement is necessary, it is not the main objective. It is rather the necessary means for what HaShem truly wants— namely that there be fellowship between Himself and the people. When the text states that “the glory of HaShem appeared…” it relates to His presence being manifested.
Now that Yeshua has paid the price to atone for sin, we (believers) have the privilege of sharing in a new type of priesthood, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) and bring others into His wondrous light (glory).
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