Torah: Shemini, Lev 9:1-11:47
Haftorah: II Sam 6:1-7:17
B'yom hashemini "In the eighth day." Aaron and his sons sanctified themselves and offered sacrifices for cleansing. During the process, Aaron burnt the sin sacrifice which was supposed to be eaten. Moses was angry with him for doing so. Aaron had done something which would have disqualified him from eating the sin sacrifice, so he burnt the offering (Lev 10:19). His response satisfied Moshe.
In chapter 11 instructions are given with regard to clean and unclean foods. Kosher (kasher) is a difficult subject for people to grasp. Simply put, something non-kosher is out of its place. For example, kosher cake is not unclean at all. However, if the cake drops on your pants or dress, your pants or dress become unclean and you would then need to remove the cake, through cleaning. Dirt from the garden is kosher as long as it remains in the garden. If however it gets tracked onto your nice new carpet, the carpet would then be unclean. In this last example, dirt in the garden is clean but out of its proper environment is dirty. This is kosher.
G-d commanded the Jewish people to eat only certain kinds of animals and other foods. As long is these types of foods are entering the mouth of a Jewish person, it is kosher. For the non-Jews there are not so many requirements for eating. Gen 9:3 is speaking to Noach (Noah) and his sons, and it says, "Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." The Jewish people descended from Noach and so this would apply to them as well, except the commands of G-d to Moshe for his people gave more details of what was expected of them. These commands were not given to the nations of the world, but were given to Israel.
If I expect my son to make his bed in a certain way, this does not mean that children everywhere have to do the same. Some homes do not require children to make their beds at all. For my son not to make the bed in the prescribed manner would be an act of disobedience toward me. But the children in other homes not making their bed in the prescribed manner do not necessarily indicate disobedience. If they asked to become part of my household, then they would have to abide by my rules otherwise, I could care less whether they make their beds or not.
The same is true of kosher. What is kosher for a non-Jew is not necessarily kosher for a Jew. Jews are to be very careful not to break Torah kosher law. Therefore rabbis have designed "oral law" to protect the Jewish people from infractions of Torah kosher. Among the oral laws is the law not to mix meat and milk at our meals. Oral law tells how much time should be allowed between eating milk and meat. The time is different for eating milk first vs. eating meat first, because the digestive tract holds meat in the body longer than milk.
Halacic law (oral law or rabbinic law) was given to do the job of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). The Holy Spirit tells us when we are about to "mess up". This creates more liberality for those who have received the Messiah and the Holy Spirit. Most of us today do not comprehend what Rabbi Shaul (the Apostle Paul) meant when he said, Gal 2:4 "And that because of false brothers… who came in secretly to spy out our liberty which we have in Messiah Yeshua…" He was really talking about those who would attempt to bring liberated individuals (from oral law) back under halacic tradition and customs. Never did he say that we (Jews) should break Torah. The real point of contention was oral law. Since Torah for non-Jews says that they can eat anything they wish except the blood, Paul never approached this subject with the gentile believers in Yeshua except to say avoid eating blood. Have you ever heard a teaching on avoiding the eating blood from traditional churches?
The rest of this Torah portion is devoted to what animals are clean or not clean for Jewish people.
Animals have to have a split hoof and chew the cud. Horses chew the cud but do not have a split hoof. Rabbits chew the cud but do not have a hoof. Pigs have a split hoof but do not chew the cud. These animals are all unclean. Here are most of the (Torah) clean animals from Leviticus 11: sheep, goats, cows, dear, oxen, buffalo and moose all have split hooves and chew the cud. Here are some unclean animals: dog, cat, possum, squirrel, rat, ferret, monkey, kangaroo, elephant, rhinoceros and all reptiles.
Fish have to have both scales and fins to be clean. It would be easier to list a few of the common unclean fishes than all the clean. Among the unclean are: catfish, squid, octopus, shellfish, dolphin, whale, jellyfish, crab, shrimp, eel, muscle, abalone, clam, etc.
In Zion we try to keep Torah kosher, but not rabbinic kosher. We encourage those of you who wish to keep rabbinic kosher to do so. To keep truly rabbinic kosher requires meat and dairy products to be totally separated. Separate refrigerators, cookware, plates and utensils. If a pan has ever cooked meat in it, it must be koshered to be used for dairy. If a pan has ever cooked dairy in it, it must be koshered to be used for meat.
Observe in movies and television programs how many homes you see people having two refrigerators. These are kosher Jewish homes. You will be surprised how often homes have two refrigerators.
Even though G-d did not give these laws to us to keep us healthy, there are health benefits from eating and keeping Torah kosher.
Return to Davarim Index