Shabbos Parashas Shemini

This week’s parashah recounts the inauguration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Moshe tells the Jewish People (Vayikra 9:6): “This is the thing that Hashem has commanded you to do, so that Hashem’s glory will appear among you.” The Midrash elaborates (Yalkut Shimoni, Torah 521):
Said Moshe to the People of Israel: “Remove this evil inclination from your hearts, and let all of you have a single-minded fear of God and a unified agenda to serve before the All-Present One. Just as He is the sole power in the world, so, too, let your efforts be directly solely toward Him. … If you do so, Hashem’s glory will appear among you.
Previously we have presented two selections from the Maggid’s commentary on this Midrash [1] [2]. Here we present another selection.
The Midrash says (Bereishis Rabbah 67:8): “With the wicked, their hearts rule over them [examples: Eisav, Yeravam, Haman]; with the righteous, they rule over their hearts [examples: Chanah, David, Daniel].” Those who serve Hashem do not allow themselves to be led astray by passions of the heart such as desire or anger. Rather, from youth to old age, their conduct is driven solely by the intellect, and their intellect is guided by the laws of the Torah. They follow a single path their entire lives.
In Shir HaShirim 6:9 it is written: “My dove, My perfect one, is but one – she is but one unto her mother, she is the choice one of the one that bore her.” Hashem is speaking of the Jewish People. The statement “she is but one” refers to their inborn inclination, while the statement “she is the choice one of the one who bore her” refers to the pattern of conduct inculcated into them by their families. The righteous among the Jewish People all conduct themselves according to the will of Hashem as expressed in His precious Torah. Just as the individual person’s thought and conduct is directed by a single code, so, too, it is with the group as a whole. Although they vary in their physical characteristics, they are unified and bound to each other in their noble goal. And not only are the righteous Jews of a given generation bound to each other, but rather all righteous Jews of all generations are bound to each other. The wisdom and teachings of past generations, as recorded in our holy books, continue today to enlighten our eyes.
With the wicked, however, there is no such consistency. A wicked man’s conduct fluctuates from one day to the next. Yesterday we saw him happy and smiling, today he is upset and enraged, with his tongue lashing out like fire to those around him. One day he gorges himself, another day he gets drunk, and still another day he forsakes his family in the pursuit of honor. All the more so are two wicked people uncoordinated in their behavior, and even more so with a group of wicked people. On top of that, they have no memory of the acts of those of past generations; all is forgotten, like a lump of lead that has sunk in a raging sea. Today the righteous speak of “the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak, and the God of Yaakov,” but no one speaks of the God of Nimrod.
Hashem’s glory is shown by the righteous among the Jewish People because of their noble conduct. Just as Hashem is one, so, too, they are one, for they follow the path of Torah and service to Hashem. But no Divine glory is reflected from those who are ruled over by their passions.
Everything we have said is encompassed in Moshe’s statement: “This is the thing that Hashem has commanded you to do, so that Hashem’s glory will appear among you.” Moshe is saying that the way the Jewish People will show Hashem’s glory is through the uprightness they will exhibit constantly in their conduct – in the way they all will subordinate themselves to Hashem’s will. If we follow Hashem’s command, we will be united – although there are many types of people among us, we will all be in harmony with each other, and it will be as if we all are one being.
As the Gemara teaches (Berachos 6a): “The Holy One Blessed Be, said to the People of Yisrael: ‘You have made me a single entity in the world, and I will make you a single entity in the world.’” The Midrash we began with tells us how we can achieve this state – by removing the evil inclination from our hearts.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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