The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary

By Steven; Sarah Levy | Go to book overview

SHEMINI

❖ Drinking Responsibly
Parashat Shemini (literally, “Eighth”) takes its name from the opening verse, which recounts the events of the eighth and final day of the Tabernacle’s inauguration. On what should have been a wholly glorious day, Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s four sons, brought an offering that God had not commanded, and perished as a result. Immediately following this tragedy, God delivered instructions to Aaron, the High Priest:

Drink no wine or other intoxicant, you or your sons, when
you enter the Tent of Meeting, that you may not die. This is
a law for all time throughout the ages. (Lev. 10:9)

Rashi comments on why the verse refers to two beverages ():

wine or other intoxicant: Wine in a manner that intoxicates.
(Rashi, Lev. 10:9)

Rashi explains that this verse prohibits the priests from entering the Tent of Meeting while inebriated. In his commentary on verse 2, Rashi cites the placement of this prohibition immediately after the deaths of Nadab and Abihu as proof that their deaths resulted from their entering the Tabernacle while intoxicated.While some religions, such as Islam and Mormonism, prohibit consuming alcohol, Judaism condones drinking alcoholic beverages—and, even more so, requires drinking wine on certain occasions. For example, Sabbath is marked by reciting a blessing over wine at both its entry (Kiddush) and its departure (Havdalah); and Passover, the holiday when Jews transmit the fundamentals of our history and faith to the next generation, involves drinking four cups of wine, corresponding to the four different verbs used in Exodus 6:6-8 to express God’s promise to redeem the Jews from Egypt. Judaism recognizes that alcohol has the ability to enhance life when used within prescribed guidelines and the potential to destroy life when it is not, as illustrated by the incident of Nadab and Abihu.
Questions for Discussion
1. When do you tend to consume alcohol today? Do you agree that it has the ability to both enhance and destroy life?
2. Although there are expressions of asceticism in Judaism (e.g., “Such is the way of Torah: You shall eat bread with salt, you shall drink water in small measure, and you shall sleep on the ground; live a life of deprivation and toil in Torah” [Pirkei Avot 6:4]), they are the exception rather than the rule. How do you feel about Judaism’s teaching that (moderated) physical pleasure can enhance spiritual life? Do you find this to be true in your life as well?
3. The government tries to curtail alcohol use by prohibiting driving while intoxicated, banning the consumption of alcohol in many outdoor spaces, and outlawing purchases

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The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction - Introducing Rashi xv
  • Genesis 1
  • Bere’shit 3
  • NoaḤ 6
  • Lekh Lekha 9
  • Va-Yera’ 12
  • Hayyei Sarah 15
  • Toledot 18
  • Va-Yetse’ 21
  • Va-YishlaḤ 24
  • Va-Yeshev 27
  • Mikkets 30
  • Va-Yiggash 33
  • Va-YeḤi 36
  • Exodus 39
  • Shemot 41
  • Val-‘Era’ 44
  • Bo’ 47
  • Be-ShallaḤ 50
  • Yitro 53
  • Mishpatim 56
  • Terumah 59
  • Tetsavveh 62
  • Ki Tissa’ 65
  • Va-Yak’Hel 68
  • Pekudei 71
  • Leviticus 75
  • Va-Yikra’ 77
  • Tsav 80
  • Shemini 83
  • Tazria’ 86
  • Metsora’ 90
  • ’AḤarei Mot 93
  • Kedoshim 97
  • ‘Emor 100
  • Be-Har 103
  • Be-Ḥukkotai 106
  • Numbers 111
  • Be-Midbar 113
  • Naso’ 116
  • Be-Ha’Alotekha 120
  • ShelaḤ-Lekha 123
  • KoraḤ 127
  • Ḥukkat 130
  • Balak 134
  • PinḤas 138
  • Mattot 141
  • Mase’Ei 144
  • Deuteronomy 147
  • Devarim 149
  • Va-EtḤannan 152
  • ‘Ekev 156
  • Re’Eh 160
  • Shofetim 163
  • Ki Tetse’ 167
  • Ki Tavo’ 171
  • Nits Avim/Va-Yelekh 174
  • Ha’Azinu 177
  • Ve-Zo’t Ha-Berakhah 181
  • Subject Index 185
  • Index of Sources 189
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