Parshas Shmini – Overwhelming Love?

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

The Mishkan (the Portable Sanctuary which accompanied the Jews in their sojourn through the desert), is dedicated, two of Aaron’s sons expire from great devotion on that day, the aftermath, and then a discussion of different members of the animal kingdom – including, also, insects, lizards and rodents – which we may not eat.


How is the beginning of this week’s section of the Torah, the discussion of lofty levels of Divine worship and revelation, connected to its ending with such a low standard as that which need be stopped from eating insects and rodents??


This juxtaposition of Torah themes is to teach us an important lesson: Even when dealing with the highest levels of Divine worship, one must retain the element of subservience to and obedience before G-d Almighty. Without this crucial ingredient, one might fall from a state of holiness to a state of base and reckless self-indulgence.


Descends from the nation of Amalek. Spiritually, “Amalek” represents coldness towards Holiness, Torah and Mitzvos, etc. This coldness could also lead to the same base, reckless self-indulgence. In order to avoid this obstacle, one must “Remember Amalek” – i.e. realize how low “Amalek” has cast oneself. This remorse is able to propel one to warmth in Torah and Mitzvah observance. In a case where this alone is stunted by an unfeeling heart, one must study the Torah. The Torah, like water, can even break through rock, i.e. a heart of stone.


Will usher in the time when Amalek will be no more. May he come at this very moment!

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 1, Shemini; Chassidic Discourse Zachor—5718)


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