This Is!

In our portion the Torah provides us with identifiable Kashruth signs for animals we are permitted to eat. Animals must have both true cloven hooves and ruminate their food. Fish must have both fins and scales. The Torah names each of the 28 species of fowl that are not kosher.

When our leader Moshe was delivering these laws to the nation, the Torah states, “Zos Hachaya – these are the creatures.” The Medrash relates that this means Moshe actually showed the people the species that he was talking about. G-d miraculously provided Moshe with every animal, fowl, fish, grasshopper, and creeping crawler that existed in order that the Jews should see how each species actually looked.

Additionally, Rashi tells us that when the Torah introduced the laws of Kashruth to the nation, it begins with, Zos Hachaya, which can also be understood to mean, “This is your life.” Since the Jews are deeply connected to G-d and are worthy of being spiritually alive, G-d commanded them to distance themselves from that which is impure. He therefore gave them Mitzvos to connect with Him, and provided the Jews with a diet that is conducive to spiritual growth.

This Shabbos, an additional Torah scroll is removed from the ark and a special portion is read for the Maftir Aliyah. The Portion is read from the book of Exodus. Prior to the Exodus, Moshe and his brother Aaron are instructed concerning the sanctification of the new month – which was Nisan. Nisan is the first month of our year since it is the month that the Jews were freed from Egypt. This special portion is read on the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh Nisan, which is on Tuesday.

Here too, the Torah specifies, Hachodesh Hazeh – this is the Chodesh. Rashi teaches us that Moshe found it difficult to comprehend the exact moment of the rebirth of the moon and G-d showed it to Moshe. While pointing to the moon, G-d said, Hazeh – this is the precise moment.

Similarly, when G-d instructed Moshe to create the vessels of the Temple, the most intricate one was the 5-foot golden Menorah. The Menorah with its branches and detail had to be formed and created out of a single piece of gold. Rashi quotes the Talmud which tells us that Moshe had difficulty perceiving what the Menorah looked like. Here too, G-d said, Ureai V’Asai – See and make it; G-d showed Moshe a fiery vision of what the Menorah looks like.

The Torah commanded the taking of a census of the Jews through half-Shekel silver coins. Every adult male was to contribute a half-Shekel silver coin to the Temple. The coins were then counted to determine the total, rather than counting the people themselves. They were then used for the silver foundation of the Temple.

G-d tells Moshe, Zeh Yitnu – this shall they give. Rashi quotes the Medrash that G-d showed Moshe a fiery form and weight of a half Shekel and told him, this is what they are to give.

Moshe, who was entrusted by G-d as our leader and teacher, was not ashamed to ask G-d if he did not understand or visualize what he was instructed to teach and share with the Jews. His mission was to give clarity of the Torah to the Jews, and when Moshe was stuck concerning details he asked G-d and He clarified it.

Our Parsha describes the consecration of the Temple by Aaron and his four sons which took place on the Rosh Chodesh Nisan following the exodus of the Jews.

Sadly, during the service, two of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, died through a heavenly fire.

During the period of mourning, a Kohain is forbidden to perform the service in the Temple, however, a Kohain Godol – high priest ― is allowed to perform the service. Here, Aaron and his remaining children were commanded to proceed with the inauguration of the Temple which entailed sacrifices and eating consecrated offerings, despite their loss.

There was an additional Rosh Chodesh offering that was performed on that day. Aaron understood that he and his children should not eat the meat from this sacrifice and it was burned.

When Moshe inquired about what was done with the Rosh Chodesh sacrifice and was told it was burned, he became upset, thinking that it should have been eaten. Aaron explained to Moshe the Halachic reason it was burned.

Moshe could have very easily gotten out of his blunder by saying he was unaware of the law. Yet, Moshe the man of truth and its preserver, turned to Aaron and said, ‘Yes, I had learned about that law, I just forgot it.”

The Medrash points out that the Torah tells us that Moshe became upset when he heard about the burning of the sacrifice. Had Moshe not become upset, he would have remembered the law on his own. The Torah is teaching us that even the greatest of our leaders can err due to anger. From this we see the benefits of maintaining control of our reactions when we are faced with challenging and trying situations!