Parshat Shemini Shabbat HaChodesh 5757

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“It was on the eighth day that Moses summoned Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel.” (Vayikra 9,1).

“It was on the eighth day…”

Eighth day of what?

Rashi explained it “the eighth day after the seven days of inauguration (Miluim) which preceded it, and it is the first of Nisan in the second year of the exodus of B’nei Yisrael from Egypt.” This day, according to Chazal, was rewarded with ten crowns – that is, this same day served as the beginning of ten major events in the history of our people of which the greatest of all was the dwelling of the Shechina in Israel (Seder Olam, Chapter 7); and as an expression of this, a heavenly fire descended on this very same day to “eat” the organs from the sacrifices which had been placed on the Mizbeach (Altar).

In the light of these things it is puzzling why our Parsha opens with the words “Vayehi” (it was), since according to Chazal , the explanation which has been handed down since the days of the Great Assembly (HaKnesset HaGedolah) is that in every place (in the Bible) which has Vayehi, it is to be interpreted as an expression of sorrow”?! (Gemara Megillah, Daf Yud, page B). Very simply one can explain that the expression of sorrow is justified because following the above mentioned ceremony on this same day, the two sons of Aaron who were among the Gedolim and righteous of this generation, found their death.

Without rejecting this explanation, we will propose another idea on this issue. If it weren’t for the Sin of the Golden Calf, Bnei Yisrael would already have been settled in their land, the land of the Shechina and of Prophecy, centered by the Beit HaMikdash, with its potential for revealing miracles which would testify to the fact that the Shechina is found there within. This is to say, the erection of the Mishkan in the Sinai Desert and the revelation of Hashem with the descent of the fire from Heaven were not part of the original divine plan revealed to Moshe at the beginning of his vision – in the language “And I will take you out… and I will save you… and I will redeem you… and I will take you… and I will bring you into the land.” Only among his many favors Hashem agreed to forgive B’nei Yisrael for the Sin of the Golden Calf, and as a sign of this allowed the temporary establishment of the Mishkan and to reveal within it the fire from heaven. And if you should ask – what does it matter if the Shechina appears to B’nei Yisrael in the desert or in Eretz Yisrael – the main thing is that it is revealed?!

The difference is great – for it is possible that its appearance in the desert, and the falling of the man (Manna), and also all of the rest of the unnatural phenomena for which B’nei Yisrael were rewarded with at this same hour, caused them to form the opinion that it is better to stay in the desert forever and to elevate themselves all of the time spiritually, without working the land and dealing with the materialistic-natural life – as reality requires in Eretz Yisrael.

According to some commentators this was the thought of the spies who spoke libelously about the land and caused many various troubles to come about whose influences have not yet passed from our People even to this day (Sefat Emet, BaMidbar, page 49; “Chevesh Pe’er LaRav Kook ZT”L, Lecture 1). Thus this thought, despite its good intentions, is unfit, and a great sin for it is against the will of Hashem.

Shlomo Hamelech has already captured the essence of our above mentioned idea by stating: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that shall stand.” (Proverbs [Mishlei] 19, 21)

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Shalom Horowitz

Rabbi Horowitz is a Rav Mechanech at the Ulpana Girls Academy – Kiryat Arba
Please address your questions or comments to the Ulpana Girls Academy – Kiryat Arba