Parshat Shmini -
The Mishkan's Two-Part Dedication Ceremony

(To prepare for this shiur,
see the questions for self study.)

During the dedication of the Mishkan, we find two distinct ceremonies:

(See Board #1.) Why was there a need for both? By examining the details of these two ceremonies, this week's shiur will attempt to explain their significance in Sefer Vayikra.

In contrast to the second half of Sefer Shmot, which focused on the construction of the Mishkan, Sefer Vayikra opens with the set of laws that govern its daily function. For example, Parshat Vayikra discusses which korbanot an individual can or must bring (the "korban yachid"), while Parshat Tzav explains how the kohanim are to offer those korbanot.

At the end of Parshat Tzav, in a very abrupt fashion, Sefer Vayikra returns to the description of the Mishkan's construction, by recording the details of the 'seven day miluim' dedication ceremony (8:1-36). This narrative seems to be out of place, for its details should have been included in Parshat Pekudei together with the other details of the assembly of the Mishkan (see Shmot 40:1-16, especially 40:12-15!). [Note also that the mitzvah of the 'seven day miluim' is the only commandment recorded in Terumah/Tezaveh whose performance is not recorded in Vayakhel/Pekudei (see Shmot 29:1-37).]

This narrative at the end of Parshat Tzav continues into Parshat Shmini with the details of the inaugural ceremony that took place on Yom HaShmini - the 'Eight Day' (see 9:1-24) - and ends with the story of the tragic death of Nadav and Avihu on that day (see 10:1-20).

At this point, Sefer Vayikra returns to its presentation of the laws concerning the Mishkan, primarily the laws that govern who can or cannot enter the Mikdash.

[This unit begins with the laws of "tum'at ochlin" (11:1-47) and continues with the laws of "tum'at yoledet, metzora, v'zav" etc. Note that one who becomes "tamey" is not permitted entry into the Mishkan until he performs the necessary procedure of "tahara." This discussion continues through the remainder of Shmini, Tazria, Metzora and the first part of Acharei Mot and will be discussed, im yirtzeh Hashem, in next week's shiur.]

As we explained in our introductory shiur to Sefer Vayikra, this narrative, describing the seven day miluim and the Yom HaShmini (chapters 8-10) seems to belong in Shmot. To understand why this narrative is included instead in Sefer Vayikra, we must examine what takes place during these two ceremonies.

The 'Seven Day Miluim' Ceremony
To dedicate the Mishkan, God had commanded Moshe Rabbeinu (see Shmot chapter 29) to perform a special procedure for seven consecutive days which would 'prepare' the kohanim and mizbayach. Parshat Tzav described how Moshe fulfilled this command.

Let's review the two primary elements of this procedure:

(See Board #2.) Although the "shemen hamishcha" (A) is sufficient to sanctify the Mishkan and its keilim, the mizbayach and the kohanim require an additional procedure (B). Furthermore, unlike the other keilim, the mizbayach must be anointed seven times with the shemen ha'mishcha (see 8:11).

To understand why this extra procedure (B) is necessary, we must note the use of the word "l'kadesh" in this parsha (and its parallel in Parshat Tezaveh - 29:1-37) which shows that the purpose of the seven day miluim ceremony is to sanctify - "l'kadesh" - the Mishkan. [Note "l'kadesh" in Vayikra 8:10-12, 8:15, 8:30 as well as Shmot 29:1,34-37!]

The hebrew word "l'kadesh" means 'to set aside' or 'to designate.' For example, God is "kadosh," as He is set aside, divine, above all. An object can become "kadosh" by being sanctified by a certain procedure, which 'sets it aside,' or 'designates' it, for a Divine purpose. An act of "hakdasha" infuses an object with "kedusha," and hence the purpose of this process of "l'kadesh" is to infuse the two focal points of the Mishkan with "kedusha."

Recall that the Mishkan contains two focal points:

[See shiur on Parshat Tezaveh where we explained these two focal points and the function of the Mishkan as a vehicle to facilitate this encounter between Man and God.]

To sanctify the Mishkan and its vessels (1), the sprinkling of the "shemen ha'mishcha" (A) suffices (see Breishit 28:18-22!). However, for the mizbayach and the kohanim (2), an extra procedure (B) is required, for man must be reminded that by his very nature he is not worthy of this encounter. God is Divine; man is mundane. To raise man and the mizbayach upon which he will offer his korbanot to the necessary level, a more complex ceremony is required (which includes the sprinkling of blood upon the mizbayach and upon the ears, hands and feet of the kohanim). Not only the blood ["ki ha'dam hu ha'nefesh" - Devarim 12:23] but also man's ears, hands and feet serve as powerful symbols of the Divine purpose of man's creation and his potential service of God. (See Board #3.)

[Note that immediately after Matan Torah, the mizbayach is referred to as a "mizbach adamah" (see Shmot 20:20). This obviously relates to man's name - "adam" and his creation in Gan Eden "afar min ha'adamah." That "afar," according to the Midrash, was taken from Har HaMoriah, the site of the Akeydah, and later the Temple.]

Why Seven?
Why must this "hakdasha" be repeated over the course of seven days?

Whenever we find the number 'seven' in Chumash, it invariably relates to perek aleph in Breishit, i.e. the story of God's creation of nature over the course of seven days.

God's very first act of "kedusha" was to 'set aside' the seventh day, to mark His completion of the Creation process (see Breishit 2:1-4). By 'resting' on this day, man is constantly reminded of the divine purpose of His creation. The story of creation in seven days can be seen as the paradigm of this concept of "kedusha" - the divine purpose of creation.

Any procedure that includes the number seven (be it seven items, seven times, seven days, seven weeks, seven years etc.) emphasizes man's requirement to recognize the purpose of his creation. By repeating this procedure of "kedushat ha'mizbayach v'hakohanim" over the course of seven days, the purpose of the mizbayach to become a vehicle through which man can come closer to God is emphasized.

[Once again, we find a connection between the function of the Mishkan and the purpose of the creation. This was discussed in the shiur on Parshat Vayakhel. It is supported by numerous Midrashim which view the construction of the Mishkan as the completion of Creation. Compare carefully Shmot 39:32 to Breishit 2:1, and Shmot 39:43 to Breishit 1:31 and 2:3!]

Thus, the seven day miluim ceremony serves a double purpose:

Therefore, this narrative that describes the offering of the korbanot during this ceremony is included in Sefer Vayikra and juxtaposed to the laws of Korbanot (Parshiot Vayikra/Tzav).

[Note now 7:37 and the inclusion of "torat ha'miluim" in the summary pasuk of Parshat Tzav!]

Now we must explain the special ceremony that takes place on the following day.

Yom HaShmini
On Yom HaShmini, the day following the completion of the seven day 'miluim,' the Mishkan becomes fully functional, and thus, a special inaugural ceremony is necessary. However, this ceremony (see 9:1-24) is quite different than the seven day 'miluim.'

To understand why, we must examine the special korbanot brought on this day. Once again (as we should expect), we find that the purpose of the "korbanot Yom HaShmini" is stated explicitly:

"This is what Hashem has commanded you to do in order that the presence of God ('kvod Hashem') may appear to you." (9:6; see also 9:5)
Recall that due to the sins of Chet Ha'Egel, God had taken His Sh'china (which the people had witnessed at Ma'amad Har Sinai) away from the camp of Bnei Yisrael.
"Moshe took the tent and pitched it outside the camp, far away from the camp and called it the Ohel Mo'ed. Anyone who sought God would have to go the Ohel Mo'ed located outside the camp." (See Shmot 33:7 and context)
When Moshe ascended Har Sinai to receive the second luchot, God promised him that His Sh'china would indeed return to the camp (34:8-10); however it was necessary to first build the Mishkan to facilitate its return. [Note Shmot 25:8 - "v'asu li mikdash v'shachanti B'tocham" - in contrast to 33:7.]

Now that the construction of the Mishkan had been completed, the korbanot of Yom HaShmini mark its climax - the return of the Sh'china:

"For today God's glory (kvod Hashem) will appear to you." (9:6; see also 9:23-24, and compare with Shmot 24:16-18)
Therefore, the special korbanot offered during this ceremony serve a double purpose, reflecting this background: (See Board #4.) This is precisely what we find: (See Board #5.)

Yom HaShmini / Yom Kippur and Shavuot
Although the special korbanot of Yom HaShmini are a one-time event, we find very similar korbanot that are offered every year and reflect this very same purpose.

1) Yom Kippur
A special chatat and olah, one offered by the Kohen Gadol and the other offered by Bnei Yisrael, are brought once every year on Yom Kippur, on the very same day that Bnei Yisrael received atonement for Chet Ha'Egel!

Board #6 highlights this parallel:

[The basic structure of korbanot is the same. The minute differences can be explained due to the special nature of Yom HaShmini. See Further Iyun Section.]

Yom Kippur can be seen as an annual re-dedication of the Mishkan, especially from the perspective of its purpose as a site where Bnei Yisrael can receive atonement for their sins.

2) Shavuot
The only instance when Bnei Yisrael offer a 'collective' Korban Shlamim is on Chag HaShavuot:

"And with the 'shtei ha'lechem' you shall offer an olah... a chatat... and two lambs for a zevach shlamim" (Vayikra 23:19)
The first time Bnei Yisrael offered a shlamim was at Ma'amad Har Sinai (see Shmot 24:5). As the Mishkan was to perpetuate that experience, we find a korban Shlamim offered at the inaugural ceremony of the Mishkan on Yom HaShmini (9:4). To remember that event, we offer a special korban Shlamim (shel tzibbur) every year on Shavuot, commemorating Ma'amad Har Sinai. It is not by chance that this korban, like the korbanot of Yom HaShmini, is offered at the completion of seven cycles of seven days. (See Board #7.)

Nadav and Avihu
At the conclusion of this ceremony, Nadav and Avihu are punished by death for offering "aish zara" which God had not commanded (10:1-2). Again we find a parallel to Har Sinai and Chet Ha'Egel. At Har Sinai, Bnei Yisrael and the kohanim were forewarned:

"And God told Moshe: Go down and warn the people that they must not break through [the barrier surrounding] Har Sinai, lest they gaze at Hashem and perish. The kohanim also, who come near Hashem, must sanctify themselves ('yitkadashu'; compare to 'bikrovai akadesh' - 10:3), lest God punish them." (Shmot 19:21)
As this inaugural ceremony parallels the events of Har Sinai, the warning concerning approaching Har Sinai also applies to the Mishkan. Extra caution was necessary.

Similarly, just as Aharon, despite his good intentions, had sinned at Chet Ha'Egel, in suggesting an action that God had not commanded, so did his children Nadav and Avihu. Despite their good intention when offering this "aish zarah," God did not command them to do so! [Recall the repetition of "ka'asher tzivah Hashem et Moshe" in Parshiot Vayakhel/Pekudei.] (See Board #8.)

Because of these events, i.e. the improper entry of Nadav and Avihu into the Mishkan, Sefer Vayikra continues at this point with a discussion of the laws of "tum'ah v'tahara," which regulate who is permitted and who is forbidden to enter the Mishkan (chapters 11-16).

Why in Vayikra?
We have shown how the consideration of the events that took place at Har Sinai (as described in Sefer Shmot) helps us better understand the special korbanot that are offered during the dedication of the Mishkan. Now we must explain why this lone lengthy narrative of Sefer Vayikra is recorded in this sefer instead of in Sefer Shmot. [Recall our explanation that chapter 40 of Sefer Shmot describes the dedication of the Mishkan, and hence, chapters 8-10 in Vayikra should have been recorded together with that narrative at the conclusion of Sefer Shmot.]

One could suggest that this narrative, even though it may technically 'belong' in Sefer Shmot, is recorded specifically in Sefer Vayikra because of the special connection between this narrative and the laws of korbanot in Sefer Vayikra.

The special "ayil" offered during the 'seven day miluim' ceremony, we explained, serves as the 'prototype' for the korban shlamim for it included the separation of the "chazeh v'shok" for the kohen offering the korban. Therefore, this narrative is recorded immediately after the laws of the korban shlamim in Parshat Tzav (see 7:35-37 and last week's shiur).

Similarly, the special korbanot offered on Yom HaShmini can be understood as the 'prototype' for the korbanot offered yearly on Yom Kippur as explained later in chapter 16, and the special korban shlamim offered on Shavuot as explained later in chapter 23.

Finally, the narrative describing Nadav and Avihu's forbidden entry in the Kodesh serves as the introduction to an entire set of laws concerning who can and who cannot enter the Mikdash, beginning in chapter 11 and continuing through chapter 16.

Accordingly, we can continue to understand Sefer Vayikra as a 'book of laws' - "torat kohanim." However, it includes the narrative describing the dedication of the Mikdash that helps us better understand the context of those laws.

In the shiurim that follow, which will discuss Parshiot Tazria and Metzora, we will continue this theme.

Virtual ClassRoom enhancements by Reuven Weiser.

For Further Iyun
A. In contrast to the korbanot of 'seven day miluim,' the commandment to offer the special korbanot of Yom HaShmini is never mentioned beforehand, not even in Terumah/Tezaveh!

B. The korbanot of the seven day miluim ceremony can be seen as the symbol of all korbanot that will be offered on the mizbayach.

The category of chatat could include the subcategory of asham ("ka'chatat ka'asham"... - 7:7). The category of olah could include all korbanot n'dava that are kodsehi kodshim, including mincha. The category of ayl ha'miluim includes all korbanot n'dava that are kodshim kalim.

C. The pattern of seven days followed by the 'eighth day' is also found in "brit milah," succot and shmini atzeret, shavuot after seven weeks, yovel after seven shmitot, korbanot machshirin of metzora and zav. [Find other examples.] Based on the above shiur, explain why.

D. To better understand the punishment of Nadav and Avihu, see Shmot 19:20-25, 24:1 and 8-9, and compare to Vayikra 10:1-3.

E. The parallel korbanot brought on Yom HaShmini and at Ma'amad Har Sinai are far from identical. Although both events include "korbanot olot and shlamim," there are several differences on Yom HaShmini. Board #9 compares the korbanot of both events and notes the differences with highlighted 'footnotes':

These differences can be understood in light of Chet Ha'Egel. We will now explain each letter. The significance of this "egel l'chatat" is accented by comparing this korban to the 'chatat and olah' of the 'miluim':
7 day miluim - "Par l'chatat... v'ayil l'olah" (8:14,18)

Yom HaShmini - "Egel l'chatat v'ayil l'olah" (9:2)

There is only one minor change - the 'egel' (calf - baby bull) replaces the 'par' (adult bull). Whenever the kohen gadol is required to bring a chatat, it is always a 'par' (see 4:3). On this special day his standard korban is changed to an 'egel,' reflecting his atonement for Chet Ha'Egel.

The nation was also commanded to bring a 'chatat.' If indeed this 'chatat' was in atonement for Chet Ha'Egel, it too should have been an 'egel.' Why was this korban a 'se'ir?'

The reason is actually quite simple. Whenever the nation brings a 'chatat,' it can only be a 'se'ir' - a goat. (See parshat ha'musafim, Bamidbar Chapters 28-29. Each korban musaf is always a "se'ir izim l'chatat.") Therefore, the Nation must bring a chatat because of Chet Ha'Egel; however the animal must be a 'seir.'

The case of Aharon is different. The standard korban chatat of the Kohen Gadol is a 'par' (Vayikra 4:3). Therefore, the change from a 'par' to an 'egel' is permitted, as an 'egel' is simply a baby 'par.'

A very similar change from 'par' to 'egel' does take place in the Nation's korban 'olah.' At Har Sinai the nation brought a 'par' as an 'olah.' Now, on Yom HaShmini they bring an 'egel' instead of the standard 'par.' Recall that an olah can also be offered in atonement for a sin when one is not obligated to bring a chatat.

The second animal of the Nation's korban 'olah' is a lamb. It is the standard 'olah' of every "korban tzibur" offered in the Mishkan.

The korban 'shlamim' is a 'shor and ayil.' At Har Sinai, the shlamim were also 'parim.' ('Par' and 'shor' are two names for the same animal - a bull). Due to the nature of the korban shlamim (a peace offering), it would not be proper to offer a 'reminder' of Chet Ha'Egel. This korban relates only to the 'hitgalut' aspect of this ceremony.

The second animal of the korban shlamim is an 'ayil' (ram). One could suggest that this korban is a reminder of 'akeidat yitchak', a cornerstone in the development of our covenantal relationship with Hashem.

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