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A Dvar Torah for Parshah Shemini

Our Dvar Torah: Emet!

A Dvar Torah for Shemini: Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47
and Likutey Moharan Book 1 lesson 2:1-3
By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman ben Ya'akov © March 10, 2021 (updated 3/23/22)

We begin by turning to Rebbe Nachman's Likutey Moharan Book 1 lesson 2:1-3 (Read)

These words are “emet,” true.

In Parshah Shemini, at 10:1-3, we read what to some may seem like a harsh judgment against Nadav and Avihu. There, HaShem strikes them dead for the crime of Avodah Zarah. or foriegn worship. The text seems clear enough; they offered a “zarah” or alien fire to HaShem.

Gur Aryeh argues for the literal interpretation of their crime, while conceding Rashi's point, based on that of Rabbi Eliezer, that they also made an improper halachic ruling in the presence of Moshe Rabbeinu. This point should serve as a warning to those who usurp Jewish Tradition. HaShem will not accept “strange” or “alien” offerings.

The bulk of the parsha goes on to describe the various laws of Kashrut, animal slaughter, and so on.

How is this applicable to us today? We want Messiah! Mashiach ben David. We yearn to see the Light of G-d shining brightly bright throughout Israel and the world. Yes! AND we don't have to wait any longer! We can utilize the Power Mashiach will one day wield roght now! What is that power? Our beloved Rebbe revealed it in today's reading: “ The main weapon of HaMashiach is prayer.”

Is the power of prayer something that only he will yield? No! This awesome power, the Rebbe teaches us, comes from the “ 'Nostrils' of HaShem,” from the life-giving Breath of G-d. What is this Breath? It is the Ruach HaKodesh, the “Wind” or Holy Spirit emanating from HaShem's Word and Will! Much could be added on this point, but I'll refrain!

When Elohim spoke material existence into being He did so by uttering the Asarah Ma'amorot, the Ten Utterances. The Utterances are contemplated through the nightly Omer Count when considering the Ten Divine Emanations or Sephirot, which will begin soon. Accompanying these Ten Words of Power and the Ten Sephirot is the Life-Giving Force of the Divine Breath. By receiving G-d's Word, His Torah, and His Ruach into our consciousness, we are imbued with the same Light of Creation, which has its Source in the Ohr Kodesh, the Divine Creative Light, which is itself the “ Breath of His Nostrils!

Through the Ana B'Ko'ach prayer, which we do twice each Shabbat, we are permitted to imbibe directly from the creative wellspring of all life and well-being. We receive the Holy Spirit within our consciousness and expel all foreign winds, all forms of avodah zarah. We choose to follow His Way as revealed in Torah and through hitbodedut, personal prayer, and meditation.

This Power is greater than any sword, any gun, any bomb, any virus – any globalist edict. As Rashi says at Genesis 48:22, "[My sword and my bow are] my prayer and my supplication," and as the verse says, "I do not trust in my bow, nor does my sword save me. You [Adonai] have saved us from our oppressors, and You have shamed those who hate us" – Psalm 44:7.

Nonetheless, even though we have strong emunah or powerful motivating faith, still, the Rebbe explains, emunah is NOT what some term “Blind faith,” G-d forbid. Blind faith is foolishness! Superstition is baseless. Rather, Rebbe Nachman advises us that our emunah must be like that of Joseph's. It must combine Justice and Judgment leading to Self Discipline. Like a master swordsman, our emunah-filled prayers must be girded to our sides and wielded with expertise.

Consider, if one wishes to be a mechanic, a doctor, a lawyer, a burger flipper, or anything else in this life, one must learn what is required for success and perfect that skill set. Why would emunah and prayer be any different? Motivating faith (or emunah) must be intentionally developed through accurate knowledge, personal experience, and intention (kavanah). Such emunah enlightens and empowers our prayers. A person who properly understands the Torah (the Jewish Scriptures and revelations) and invests time in Hitbodedut (personal payer) will develop deep emunah and prayer. Through emunah, one merits a powerful prayer life and experiences great unshakable joy and contentment.

As Rav Kook tells us:

The purest Tzadikim do not complain about evil,
    rather they increase justice.
They do not complain about Godlessness,
    but increase their emunah
They do not complain about ignorance,

This is what HaShem wants. Prayer with emunah. Meditation with emunah. So set your kavanah (intention) to know and observe His directions. Then you will know Shalom and spread the Light of Shalom everywhere you go. This draws Mashiach ever closer. May he come soon and rescue us!

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