In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Shmini, we pick up our story after the seven days of inauguration of Aharon and his sons as they became Kohanim (priests). On the eighth day they begin their official duties, Aharon blesses the Jewish People with the Priestly Blessing, a fire comes from Hashem to consume the offerings on the altar and the Shechina (Divine Presence) rests in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). On this day, two of Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, offer a “strange fire before G-d” and a fire comes from Hashem and consumes them. Aharon is silent in face of his tragedy. Moshe instructs Aharon and his other two sons to continue in their service in the Mishkan, rather than formally mourn their sons/brothers. The Kohanim are then given the commandment not to drink wine before completing their duties in the Mishkan.

The laws of kosher animals are given in this week’s parsha. We learn that animals must chew their cud and have split hooves. Examples are given of animals who have one but not both of these characteristics (such as pigs) and are therefore not kosher. Fish must have fins and scales in order to be kosher. A list of non-kosher birds and kosher locusts is given as well. We are also told that we may not eat insects or reptiles.The parsha concludes with the laws of ritual purity. We learn that we can become impure by coming in contact with the carcasses of non-kosher animals or kosher animals that were not properly slaughtered. We can also become impure by coming in contact with certain species of amphibians and rodents. The Jewish People are instructed to “differentiate between the impure and the pure” and are taught about the purifying powers of the waters of a mikvah (ritual bath).

There are many symbols in this week’s parsha! Red Twizzlers, Atomic Fireballs or Red Hots can symbolize the fire that came down from Hashem to consume the sacrifices on the altar as well as the strange fire that Nadav and Avihu brought which results in their deaths. Marshmallows can represent the Shechina, divine presence, that rested on the Mishkan. Candy bottles can symbolize the commandment given to the Kohanim not to drink wine before working in the Mishkan. Candy lips or gummy teeth could symbolize Aharon’s silence when two of his sons die as well as the commandment to only eat animals that chew their cud. Animal crackers and candy or gummy fish can represent the laws of kosher animals given in this week’s parsha. Gummy snakes and worms and gummy bones can represent the animals we cannot eat as well as the laws about becoming ritually impure if we come in contact with them. Finally, blue jelly beans or rock candy can symbolize the purifying waters of the mikvah. What other ideas do you have for Parsha Sweets and Treats? Please share them in the comments section below!

Shabbat Shalom,
Shayna Levine-Hefetz

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