We read this week that it is the end of the seven days of inauguration of the Mishkan (portable tabernacle/sanctuary). Aaron, the High Priest, brings sacrifices for himself and the entire nation. Nadav and Avihu, sons of Aaron, bring an incense offering on their own initiative, and are consumed by a heavenly fire (perhaps the only time when someone did something wrong and was immediately hit by "lightning").
Also in this Torah portion we learn that the Cohanim (priests) are commanded not to serve while intoxicated. (Good idea...) The inaugural service is completed.
Then we talk about food! It is in this section of the Torah where G-d t specifies the species which are kosher to eat: mammals (those that have cloven hoofs and chew their cud), fish (those with fins and scales), birds (certain non-predators), and certain species of locusts. So often people wonder, "So where is it that says you can't eat pork?" Here you go...
The portion concludes with the laws of spiritual defilement from contact with the carcasses of certain animals.
So what else can we learn from this Torah portion that can impact our lives today? How about this: Moses thought his brother Aaron the High Priest had made a mistake regarding an offering and he censured him. Aaron explained why his action was, in fact, proper. The Torah then reports this: "And Moshe heard and it was good in his eyes" (Lev. 10:20)
What lesson for our lives can we learn from the reaction of Moses?
Many people, when they find out they are wrong, become defensive. They might be embarrassed by their mistake and then try to defend themselves or even go so far as to attack the other person rather than deal with the facts. If we are aware of this we can check the urge in ourselves and respond more appropriately. The goal of discussions, like those we have during our monthly Midrash, should be clarity and truth...not defending egos.
It's nearly Shabbat and our hope is that you have a wonderful day full of family and friends and learning.