Silence and Loss

Silence and Loss

Mar 18, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shemini

One of the most enigmatic and painful moments of all of Tanakh occurs in Parashat Shemini.

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Parashat Shemini’s Lessons of Leadership

Parashat Shemini’s Lessons of Leadership

Mar 26, 2011 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shemini

Parashat Shemini provides a stark example of celebration suddenly transformed into mourning. Having completed the building of the Tabernacle and set the foundation for divinely ordained sacrifices, the Israelites are ready to offer the first sacrifice celebrating the inauguration of Israel’s priesthood. The celebration, however, is tragically interrupted by the deaths of Aaron’s eldest sons, Nadav and Avihu. What makes their ending even more shocking is that their downfall comes while they are performing their priestly deeds. How are we to understand this fateful episode, and what does this tragic mishap teach us about leadership?

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Finding Atonement After Sin

Finding Atonement After Sin

Apr 3, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shemini

Parashat Shemini opens with the initiation of the Tabernacle altar.

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An Offering of Love

An Offering of Love

Apr 15, 2015 By Alisa Braun | Commentary | Shemini

What does a feminist reworking of Leviticus 10 sound like? The Indigo Girls song “Strange Fire” (1987) beautifully illustrates how biblical images and stories weave their way into our lives and the art we create. The song exemplifies their signature style: a second-wave feminist message wrapped in a spare acoustic sound, strong rhythms, and soft harmonies. The lyrics allude to the actions of Aaron’s sons as a way of critiquing those within organized religion who wield power and seek to silence voices of personal spiritual expression.

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Enthusiastic and Committed Judaism

Enthusiastic and Committed Judaism

Mar 19, 2014 By Danielle Upbin | Commentary | Shemini

When my husband and I named our first son Nadav, we knew that we would have some explaining to do.

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The Challenge of Nadab and Abihu

The Challenge of Nadab and Abihu

Apr 21, 2012 By Deborah Miller | Commentary | Shemini

The idea of distinctions persists throughout the Torah and in Jewish life. The word lehavdil (to separate/distinguish) occurs in the first act of Creation—“God separated/distinguished between light and darkness.” The theme continues into this week’s parashah, Shemini. 

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The Liberated Bird: Let’s Talk Turkey

The Liberated Bird: Let’s Talk Turkey

Apr 17, 2015 By Anne Lapidus Lerner | Commentary | Shemini

The main course at my Thanksgiving dinner—and perhaps at yours as well—is determined by a few verses in this week’s parashahShemini. After all, Leviticus 11 defines which living things are fit for kosher consumption, granting it a major impact on the Thanksgiving menu of kosher aviavores.

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When Theology Fails

When Theology Fails

Mar 17, 2009 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Shemini | Yom Hashoah

There is a fearful symmetry to the three chapters that make up this week’s parashah; symmetry made all the more fearful because the harmonies of theme and structure in Sh’mini contrast so mightily with the awful events it describes. 

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