Torah Portion: Sh’mini (Eighth) Vayikra (Leviticus) 9:1-11:47
HafTorah: II Samuel 6:1-7:17
New Testament: Mark 7:1-23, Acts 5:1-11; 10:1-35; II Corinthians 6:14-7:1;
Galatians 2:11-16; I Peter 1:14-16
Tonight marks the end of Passover. Passover is actually two holidays that over time have become a single unit. The first day being Passover and the remaining seven days being the Feast of Unleavened Bread. These eight days make up the holiday we now celebrate. So G-d’s spiritual calendar begins with an 8 day time and ends with Succoth in the fall which is also an eight day holiday. Tell me, what is the significance of eight in the spiritual realm? Why is this important in G-d’s calendar?
Eight is the number in scripture that represents a step outside of the cycle of time. Eight is the number that represents eternity. Since eight days start and end G-d’s calendar we can see through these the fullness and eternal significance of G-d’s plan. As it starts with eternal redemption it ends with an eternity being with G-d in the heavenly Succah. In this section of scripture we see in Vayikra 9:1 this same word, Sh’mini (eighth), used. Here Moses calls Aaron and his sons to begin the services in the newly erected Mishkan. In all of recorded history this is the first time G-d shows up at man’s invitation. Before this, G-d appeared to man for purpose and calling – such as Moses and the burning bush. Here heaven and earth merged as man set up and prepared G-d’s dwelling place among men. I want us to look at an unusual conversation that Moses had with Aaron. In Vayikra 9:6-7 we read Moses speaking to Aaron and telling him he has come to the time of G-d’s purpose in his life. In verse 7 Moses tells him, “Go to the altar and offer your sin offering.” Why would Moses have to tell him what to do step by step? Remember Aaron and his son’s had spent seven days getting ready, going over and over what they most do. Here on the eighth day G-d would appear and dwell among them. This was the big moment. So why did Moses have to say, “approach the altar.” Surely Aaron knew he would have to take this step. He had practiced for seven days. So why did Moses have to talk to him like this was the first time he had been through it?
Maybe Aaron was thinking about his life. Was he worthy? The golden calf episode had occurred just days before. Aaron understood the impact of what he was bout to do. G-d’s presence would show up. Maybe Moses sensed his struggle and said approach the altar. Maybe Moses, in doing that, was saying, “Shift your focus, you didn’t choose this, G-d chose you.” Maybe satan was messing with Aaron’s mind at this very time when he was about to usher in G-d’s presence and change things forever. He knew who he was and in his mind he was not worthy. So, Moses reminds him that it is not about him but rather about G-d. The Father knew who he was and had chosen him for this place and time. So after Moses’ urging Aaron approached the altar and made the sacrifice and saw the glory of G-d.
Maybe in our own way many of us have faced those times of doubt in our lives. Aaron reminds us that it is not about us but about Him who chose us. If G-d calls you, you are well equipped. It’s not about you. It is about something much grander than you. You are here to serve G-d even if you don’t believe you are good enough. G-d does and that is what counts. “Approach the altar, “ everyday.
This also may help us understand the incident with Nadav and Avihu in chapter 10:1-2. Maybe they forgot for a moment what was going on and were caught up in their own desires. Even though well intentioned, it became about them and what they wanted and not about G-d and His framework. It cost them their life. We must always be able to keep the proper perspective – G-d’s perspective.
Maybe the words of Yeshua in Luke 9:23 echo this from Leviticus. Yeshua calls us to take up our cross. Our cross is to surrender our lives to that which G-d has called us. It’s not about us but about Him.