Now Reading
Shemini, and the Impact of Every Action
Behar, and the Source of all Sustenance
Conflicted Convert
Emor, and Choosing Circumstances
Shlemazel in Love
Metzora, and the Purification Process
Eshet Chayi-less

Shemini, and the Impact of Every Action

Moshe Rabbeinu’s brother Aharon, the High Priest of the Jewish nation, brought a sacrificial offering on the eighth day of his inauguration process. Through this, the nation as a whole atoned for the sin of the Golden Calf—if one individual’s good deeds can atone for an entire generation’s negative deeds, how meaningful is every small action we do?

Forgiven for their most recent sin, everything should have gone great for the nation at this point, but circumstances soured quickly. Nadav and Avihu, two of Aharon’s sons (and therefore two of the main kohanim, priests, of their generation), brought an incense offering they hadn’t been commanded to bring. These incense offerings, called ketoret, were made of a specific mix of spices, to be brought in specific contexts. Since Nadav and Avihu initiated this decision to bring the ketoret (and may have been a DUI, decision under the influence), they were killed by the same fire that was supposed to consume the incense. Their father Aharon was quiet, and his family mourned.

Again—a small decision, technically well-intentioned, yet it had massive consequences. A well-timed korban meant forgiveness of an entire generation’s misdeeds; a badly-timed korban meant death and mourning. It’s not just what you do that matters, it’s when you do it, how you do it, what you’re thinking as you do it.

Kosher laws are taught to the Israelites. An animal must have split hooves and chew its cud to be kosher. The Torah lists four animal species that have only one or the other: the camel, the hyrax, and the hare, who chew their own cud but do not have split hooves, and the pig, which has split hooves but does not chew its cud. Learning about this years ago was one of the first times I truly and beyond doubt believed that the Torah was written by a Divine power. Would any human being, especially one living in the Middle East three thousand years ago with no internet access and no animal encyclopedias available, be so bold as to state that there were a specific and limited amount of species that fit specific criteria? Thousands of new animal species are discovered annually, and still no fifth animal, either chewing cud or having split hooves but not both, has been discovered.

Other kosher laws are discussed and taught to the Israelites: from the sea animals, those that have fins and scales are kosher. From the birds, certain ones are not kosher, an abomination to consume, and all those not listed are fine to eat. Specific kinds of locusts are permitted to eat, but no other insects are—check your lettuce, kids! Try that one viral TikTok hack where you pour salt on your strawberries to get all the bugs out!

This parshah shows me how there really is no such thing as a small action. Everything we do has its impact, often bigger than we may think. Timing and context can warp a good deed into being a negative one; single good deeds can balance out our worst societal sins; even a tiny bug in your kale salad can make the entire thing non-kosher.

Isn’t it hopeful in a way, though? Sure, our negative actions (or our neglecting to thoroughly check for bugs) can be far more dangerous sins than we anticipated, but the inverse of that is also true. One mitzvah, one good deed, is also powerful. One single mitzvah can save our entire nation.

View Comments (18)
  • Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed!

    Extremely useful information specifically the closing part :)
    I maintain such info a lot. I used to be looking for this particular info for a very lengthy time.
    Thanks and best of luck.

  • Wonderful article! That is the kind of information that
    are supposed to be shared around the web. Shame on Google for now not
    positioning this put up upper! Come on over and visit my website .

    Thanks =)

  • I was extremely pleased to discover this page. I want to to thank you for ones time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every part of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new information on your web site.

  • Thank you, I’ve recently been searching for info about this
    topic for a long time and yours is the best I
    have came upon till now. But, what about the conclusion? Are you sure
    concerning the source?

  • Good day I am so excited I found your weblog, I really found
    you by accident, while I was researching on Digg for
    something else, Anyhow I am here now and would
    just like to say thank you for a remarkable post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at
    the minute but I have book-marked it and also included your
    RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the superb
    work.

  • Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask.

    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa?
    My site covers a lot of the same topics as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you might be interested feel free to send me an e-mail.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the
    way!

  • I’ll right away clutch your rss as I can not to find your e-mail
    subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any?
    Kindly permit me understand in order that I could subscribe.

    Thanks.

  • Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo
    News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?

    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Thanks

  • Greetings from Idaho! I’m bored to death at work so I
    decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the information you provide here
    and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my phone
    .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, good blog!

  • Someone essentially assist to make significantly posts I
    might state. This is the very first time I frequented your website
    page and to this point? I surprised with the analysis you made
    to create this actual publish incredible.
    Magnificent job!

  • The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it does not fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, but I truly believed youd have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you could possibly fix if you werent too busy seeking attention.

  • I don’t even know how I finished up right here, however I
    assumed this post was good. I don’t know who you might be but definitely you are going to
    a famous blogger if you aren’t already. Cheers!

  • Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google,
    and found that it’s truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels.

    I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Lots of people will be benefited from your writing.
    Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top