Shemini (Eighth)

Priestly Blessing

Leviticus 9:1 It came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. C-MATS

Question: The Hebrew word (It came) always indicates that trouble or grief is associated with the narrative. What sadness could there have been on that joyous first day of Nissan? Until the sin of the Golden Calf, there was no need for a center of sanctity; every Hebrew was worthy of the Divine Presence. After that calamitous national downfall, it became necessary to build a Tabernacle as a resting place for the Shechinah. If so, it was truly sad that the Tabernacle was dedicated, because the joy was mixed with the realization that the people had forfeited their opportunity for even greater holiness. Chumash

Leviticus 9:2 And he said to Aaron, Take you a young calf לְחַטָּאת for sin [offering] and a ram for a burnt offering without blemish and offer אֹותָם them before יהוה. 3 And to the Children of Israel you will say, take a kid from the goats לְחַטָּאת for sin [offering] and a calf and a lamb, of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering. C-MATS

Question: Why was Aaron asked to bring a calf for his sin offering and the people were asked to bring a ram for their sin offering? Aaron’s offering atoned for the sin of the Golden Calf, while that of the people atoned for the sale of Joseph. Those sins stemmed from different root causes, and the different animals required by the Torah were reflective of the character flaws that caused the sins and needed atonement. When the people demanded that Aaron build them a “god” to take the place of Moses, they suffered from excessive dependence on him. They thought that they could not endure without Moses or something to take his place; therefore, Aaron brought a calf, which always follows its mother submissively. When the brothers sold Joseph, however, they signified a rebellious instinct, for they refused to accept Jacob’s choice of Joseph as the leader of the family. They behaved like a brazen goat, so that was the animal that atoned for their sin. Chumash