The main theme of this Torah portion comes from Leviticus 11:45b” Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy. The Torah portion contains scripture from Leviticus 9:1-11:47, 2 Samuel 6:1-7:17 and from the New Testament Mark 7:1-23, 1 Peter 1:14-16. The title of the Torah portion is Sh’mini or eighth because the preceding scripture was regarding the 7 days of purification of the High Priests of Israel, Aaron and his sons. Some of the highlights from Leviticus are that ADONAI orders the Israelites to go through a series of sacrificial offerings to prepare for the LORD to come down and spend time with His children. One huge mistake is made however by the sons of Aaron the High Priest. Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron make an offering that the LORD did not authorize and they were instantly killed by fire. Aaron’s other sons had to bury them and they became priests in their place. Aaron is not allowed to leave the tabernacle or mishkan in Hebrew and Israel would mourn his loss for him. Further highlights include ADONAI telling the people all of the foods that He considered clean and unclean. This is where the Israelites are instructed what the LORD considers detestable for them to eat. These include land animals, water animals, flying creatures and creatures that swarm. The Haftorah portion from 2 Samuel tells of a time when King David attempts to move the Holy Ark back to Judah but does not follow biblical instructions. Because of this the Ark starts to slide off of the cart they were moving it on and a man named Uzzah touched the Ark to stop it and he is struck down by the LORD for this. In the B’rit Hadashah portion from the book of Mark the P’ruishim or Pharisee’s were accusing Yeshua and His talmidim or disciples because they were seen on Shabbat eating without performing n’tilat-yadayim, the hand washing ceremony prior to eating. Yeshua is quick to respond by calling them hypocrites because they do not do what is from the heart rather place more importance on the legalism of the law. Yeshua tells them that nothing outside a person makes them unclean but rather what was inside a person determines if the person is clean or not in God’s sight. In 1 Peter we read that it is obedience that is required by Yeshua, not evil desires because as stated earlier in Leviticus they are following a Holy God, therefore again their acts should be holy as well. This is the way they should lead their lives as believers.
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Now comes the Drash or the commentary that follows the weekly Torah portion. The Drash or Midrash has been delivered for centuries by Rabbi’s to help grasp the meaning of the scriptures. What is most interesting is that each of us may read the same exact scriptures and yet because we are in different places in our lives, spiritually and otherwise we may each walk away with our own individual meaning. That is why I ask you to read these scriptures and form your own “Drash” or commentary. With that said I will render my Drash for you as follows:
We see that obedience to God’s word is vitally important. Any wrongdoing or disobedience may place us in grave danger with God, even leading to death. Sin which is disobedience requires a separation from a holy God. A life of sinfulness is akin to death, separation from the LORD. Only true repentance will bring one back from this separation. That is what the sacrifices were all about. The status of a particular person means nothing to God. The High Priests sons were put to death as was the man from 2 Samuel due to disobedience. God is Holy and so He calls His people to be holy as well. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse for not obeying God’s law. As for eating clean and unclean foods we see that God tells the people exactly what is acceptable and what is detestable. Do we get a different answer from Yeshua in Mark when He is addressing the Pharasees regarding eating and His telling them that only what is inside a person would make them unclean. So was Yeshua contradicting what the Father had told the Israelites regarding certain foods. No not at all. Even though in Mark 7:19 tells us that Yeshua declared all foods ritual clean. Let me clarify this often misinterpreted scripture. What Yeshua is saying is this; all foods that have been declared clean in Leviticus are ritually clean regardless of those who follow the hand washing ritual. It is a matter of the heart that makes the food clean, but not “all” foods are considered appropriate for Jews to eat, they must still regard the Torah as the guide for what to eat and what to avoid. Yeshua was pointing out that even these foods can be unclean if a persons heart is dishonoring to God. What is on the inside is what makes one clean, a heart that belongs to Yeshua. Hand washing would not make a persons heart unclean, but what comes out of person, their words and behavior make one clean or unclean. And finally we have affirmation of all this by reading Peters comments on serving a holy God and that this should guide us to be holy as well if we have truly given our life to Yeshua, our King of King and Lord of Lords.