Sh’mini (Eighth Day)

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)

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

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

4 Also a bullock and a ram for peace offerings to sacrifice before יהוה; and a grain offering mixed with oil. To day יהוה will appear to you. C-MATS

Question: How would יהוה appear to the people?  The degree of Shechinah [Divine Presence] that their offerings would bring about was manifested by the descent of a Heavenly fire which represented יהוה‘s appearance among the people. (Chumash)

5 And they brought that את which Moses commanded at the Tabernacle of the Congregation: and all the congregation came and stood before יהוה. 6 And Moses said, This is what יהוה commanded you to do and the glory of יהוה will appear to you. C-MATS

Question: What must happen first before יהוה would appear to them? Moses told the people that after they carried out יהוה‘s command of presenting the offerings, His glory would appear to them. This concept is fundamental to our faith, that first a Believer must dedicate himself to obeying the will of Elohim, and untold beneficial results will flow from it. Once a Believer displays his trust in Elohim, Elohim will reciprocate with every manner of blessing. (Chumash)

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)