Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Shemini

Where Heaven Meets Earth

Purim is an intensely spiritual twenty-four hours, occupying a higher spiritual realm than even Yom Kippur The elevated frame of mind that is meant to accompany this holy day is unparalleled in the Jewish calendar.

The challenge of embracing the spiritual while satisfying the physical is a reflection of the delicate tightrope we are expected to walk throughout our lives-finding a harmonious balance between body and soul.

This is one of the major themes of this week's Torah portion.

The first half of the Parsha describes the inauguration of the mishkan in which Nadav and Avihu, the two sons of Aharon, meet an untimely, tragic end. In their great zeal to serve their Creator, they rushed into the Temple with an offering which they were not commanded to bring-an act that invoked immediate Divine retribution.

The second major theme of this week's portion revolves around the various foods that are prohibited. The Torah calls the ingestion of crawling, creeping insects an abomination that defiles the body and forms a barrier between the soul and its heavenly source.

The juxtaposition of these two themes tells us much about our mission in life. We are not to live an ascetic life, denying basic human needs to enable the soul to transcend the body. Nor are we to indulge the body in its every physical whim. Instead, we are taught to achieve a singular marriage of body and soul that has the power to forge a wholesome relationship with our Divine Source.

All of this is summed up in the last verse of the Torah portion in which Hashem instructs us to create a havdala, separation, between the pure and the impure, between what we are permitted to eat and what we are not.

The great Torah sage, Rabbi Meir Shapiro, was once asked his impression of American Jewry after his visit to the United States. In his incisive style he responded, "Here, they know how to make kiddush but they do not know how to make havdala."

Yes, we are quick to embrace that which is sanctified, yet we are not as ready to abstain from that which is profane. To make the division between right and wrong, pure and impure, is indeed one of the greatest challenges of our time.

The current worship of "moral equivalence" and humanistic values that try to erase the distinctions between moral and immoral, holy and profane, clears the way for all kinds of degenerate behavior. These hollow rationalizations cannot stand the test of time.

The litmus of one's true humanity is the ability to create the wholesome marriage of body and soul where one first makes "havdala," differentiating between that which is illusory and transitory and that which is real, solid and eternal. Only then, will we be capable of making Kiddush and becoming a truly holy people.

Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos

Sincerely

Rabbi Naftali Reich


Text Copyright 2014 by Rabbi Naftali Reich and Torah.org.

Rabbi Reich is on the faculty of the Ohr Somayach Tanenbaum Education Center.


 






ARTICLES ON NETZAVIM AND VAYEILECH:

View Complete List

The Gift of Scholarship
Shlomo Katz - 5760

Going Beyond Realization
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Jewish Reactions
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Facing the Covenant
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5764

Shofar: The Court Summons
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Plenty of Redeeming Values
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Looking for a Chavrusah?

So It Is Written
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

It's Never Too Late
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5765

Taking Stock Of The Nation When The Time Comes For Transfer Of Power
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

ArtScroll

Don't Use Rav Alleh's Hechsher - It's a Kuntz!
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Our Doting Father
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5766

The Doors to Teshuva Never Fully Close
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766

> Speaking Of Redemption
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

The Good, The Bad, and The Ready
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

"The Man Who Blesses Himself In His Heart Saying..." Wasn't Totally Wrong
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Hide & Go Seek
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information